Tag Archive | Twitter


I was reluctant to hop on to the Socrative train.  For those of you unfamiliar with Socrative it is a clicker system that can be used on any device.  I was hesitant about this tool because to say I’m not a fan of test-like items is an understatement.  But then, on Saturday I attended the New England 1:1 Summit in Burlington, MA and Dan Callahan engaged his audience (me included) with this tool.

There is a lot to like about it!

  • access on any device: iPod, iPad, PC, smartphone
  • variety of question types: multiple choice, true/false, short answer
  • students can work on their own, or teacher can lead the group
  • you can prepare ahead of time, or go on the fly
  • you can set it up to have just 1 right answer for immediate feedback
  • download reports, view live stats
  • play as a game, set up exit tickets
  • can see how many have and/or who has responded

Here are some possible ways I can see myself (an anti-tester) using it

  • a check-in
  • workshop wrap-up
  • an activity reporting tool (I used it this way today when working with Starbursts to determine area)
  • collaborative notebook ~ collect students’ thinking during an experiment or other inquiry
  • front-load
  • pre-assess

Below is the wrap-up activity the students did after using Socrative as the reporting tool.  They had to report the area in Socrative and share a picture of it on Twitter. The self-checking activity that I set up in Socrative allowed for the kiddos to independently share out their own on Twitter.

[View the story “What is Area?” on Storify]


Soaking Up November

Being a techie teacher I was quite excited when @JudyArzt invited me to her class for a Skype session with Alan November!  I use his book, Empowering Students with Technology, in two of the courses I teach and read it myself as a graduate.  @JudyArzt and I agreed that she and I would be mum during the Skype interview so that the students could ask their questions.  Can I just say how hard that was for me?  I was definitely using my wait time because when it comes to tech I can definitely monopolize the conversation, and having Alan November there to chat with I so easily could have done that!  I did get two questions in, as a follow up to his responses to others’, but focused on capturing the conversation on Twitter.  The Storify of those tweets is here, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things he said.

One of the first questions was asked by @reisc25 about parent involvement.  Alan’s point struck me, not because of the tech solutions he provided, but because of how he removed it from tech.  Here I am, this teacher that strives herself in using technology to keep parents informed (Twitter, Facebook, website, Evernote) and have used DVD in the past, but these simple tips are just that…simple!  Not to mention that they are a fab way to maintain student relationships!

Another student asked at what age to put children’s work online.  I know that not everyone will agree with him, or me, but I felt validated.  I am of the mind that we should have children online as soon as possible.  If they can click their way through their parents’ smartphones and tablets, then they are ready to click their work online.  With the advent of touch technology, doing such things makes working with tech intuitive for kiddos.  In addition to that, I firmly believe that if we get kiddos on social media in particular then digital citizenship skills will be like breathing.  I say social media because when I think of putting student work online I think of portfolios, and immediately think of social media because of the reflective piece of portfolios and the learning process.

With all of the chatter going on in education about assessment and accountability the next question was pretty timely.  This student asked about whether Alan foresaw there being an assessment for technology, and how kiddos would fare with state and national assessments going tech.  His responses are below, but the rebel in me found his comment about no standards interesting.  But it also got me thinking.  If tech standards would be obsolete, than what about other standards?  Tech makes so much possible that doesn’t it make all other content standards obsolete?  He also commented on keyboarding, and I whole-heartedly agree with ditching cursive and replacing it with keyboarding.  He suggested some alternatives for kiddos to practice that skill, and I will be posting about an idea I kidnapped from someone about ten years ago that would also be an inexpensive alternative.

Thanks to @JudyArzt for the invite!  Thanks to @globalearner for taking time out of his day to Skype in.  And thanks to EDUC584 for asking thoughtful questions!  I appreciated the learning experience!

Pin It!

Thanks to a friend, I am now a pinner.   When she first sent me the invite I was at a ‘not another social network’ stage.  But then she kept sending me links of things that she found on Pinterest.  And so I decided I should take a peek.

First, Pinterest is a site built upon collecting things that interest you and sharing that with others.  You can collect images, videos, sites, blogs, games, purchases.  Whatever you choose.  And teachers are well known for collecting. It allows me to collect sites in a visually appealing way; there has to be an image associated with what you pin.  And because I work with younger children I know the importance of meeting the needs of a variety of learners, the combination of visuals and text are helpful!  Of course the educator in me couldn’t help but start thinking about all of the educational things I could do with it!

Professionally, I’ve begun boards related to digital citizenship and kind-heartedness.  Pinterest is a perfect site to collect articles, websites, and what-not around topics that are important to you.  For me it is digital citizenship and anything that inspires kiddos to be kind to each other.  But I’ve also been able to collect curriculum related resources.  I love how this allows me to connect to fellow educators in another way (in addition to Twitter).  I’ve followed a few more education blogs since I’ve started pinning, too!

Now…in the classroom…I see a great deal of potential for it.  I am an avid of Symbaloo.  I have a great deal of Symbaloo webmixes on my classroom website.  I like that I can create visual buttons for all of the users to access.  But here is the problem, oftentimes I like to pull out a few of those resources for my kiddos to access.  For example, when we are learning multiplication facts I like to pull out specific games that will let my kiddos practice them in a fun way.   I often use Tumblr to aggregate those resources, but I really would prefer to provide them with a visual.  Pinterest would allow me to do that!  I can pull together specific games related to time out of all of the time games I have and post little notes on them so that they can determine which would be best for them!

Those are all great ways I can use them as an educator, but are also some stellar ways for my kiddos to use them.  Did I mention that there’s an app for that?  Whether you use Android or Apple there is.  This makes the application much easier to integrate in the classroom.  Here are a few ideas I have for how it could be used by students:

    • Student Portfolio ~ I currently use Evernote in the classroom as a student portfolio & do love the multi-modal capabilities.  But I could just as easily see this be done with Pinterest.  Students could take a snapshot of their work, upload it, and then write a reflection.  They could also video record their reflection and post it.
    •  Research ~ They could gather resources for a research project and write their notes right on the pin.
    • Share Books ~ They could post images of the book jackets, rate them, write book reviews, develop theories about characters.  Speaking of characters…
    • Character Pinterests ~ They could create boards that demonstrate their understanding of a character or historical figure.  For example (we happen to be reading Despereaux) they could locate images of light and revenge to demonstrate what is important to Roscurro the rat.
    • Timelines ~ They could develop a timeline of a typical day of a historical figure (we happen to be exploring Native Americans) and post images that demonstrate what things they would most likely do during a day: hunt, skin, tend to the corn, etc.
    • Scientific Procedures ~ Couldn’t they capture images of the process they went through during an experiment and capture their notes of it along the way?
    • Problem Solving ~ They could do the same for explaining how they solved a mathematical problem.
    • Explore Language ~ What a fun way to create pictorial representation of vocabulary and/or phonetics they are currently exploring? It could even become a visual dictionary for them!!!<span style=”color: orange;”>Student Portfolio</span>
    • Digital Story Telling ~ Pull together images and write captions to pull together a cohesive story.  They could do the same thing with non-fiction writing and create an infographic!!!

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m also thinking it would be a good way to group together student projects instead of listing them on my website.  When they all publish something, I could pull them together on a board and make it one-stop shopping!  I would love to hear some ideas of how you have used or would use Pinterest with your students!

Mobile Teachers

I can’t imagine not having my iPad and/or Droid by my side while teaching. Am I tethered to my devices? Not necessarily. But I have become accustomed to the applications available on them that assist in the daily ‘stuff’ that makes up teaching.

I can not say enough about Evernote! I use it to keep track of parent – teacher conferences and phone calls as well as notes during PPTs and student – teacher conferences. I was sold on upload with Evernote last year while conferring with one of my students. after conferring, he wanted to try what we just talked about but couldn’t remember it. I tossed him my phone and he listened to our conference to remind himself, followed by application of our chat. Because I have Evernote downloaded on both devices I could still confer with other students while he was doing this!

Twitter and HooteSuite are very helpful when we are tweeting away in the classroom. Having these applications on both devices has allowed me to walk around and chat with my students while monitoring what they are all tweeting. During a recent TwitterView my classroom desktop was not connecting to the Internet. But…hooking my iPad up to the projector I was able to display the feed in case the student devices were not loading quickly enough. But I was able to walk around chatting with my students and use my Droid to stay in contact with the folks we were interviewing. Also, it comes in handy on field trips when we want to share our experiences with other folks!

Goodreads is a fabulous social bookshelf! We can be knee deep in a read aloud turn-and-talk and I can monitor what my students are saying about the book in real time. Or I an see what books my students are uploading to their shelves to get an idea of what they are reading at home and school. I really enjoy seeing their ratings and book reviews!

These are just some of the apps that I have on both devices, but there are some specifically on my iPad that I find helpful. Stick Picks is a handy app that lets me keep track of Ana array of things. I have written about it here. another one that infrequently use is Teacher Pal. Also written about here. While some may think it is poor modeling to use our mobile devices in the classroom, I disagree. When we use our devices for things like these we are showing our students what it means to be a responsible learner and citizen. We are showing them that we can use our devices for specific tasks and walk away from them. We are showing them how to be task oriented. Purpose driven. Accountable.

Why Twitter?

So often I am asked, “Why Twitter?”

My initial thought?  Why not Twitter?

  1. One hundred forty character limit.  It demands brevity and word choice.
  2. Authenticity.  It is real writing in real time for, to, and with real people.
  3. It’s social.  The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions.
  4. It’s a network.  A space and place specifically designed for people to connect.
  5. It’s personal.  Users can choose who they interact with and when.

If these commonly known reasons aren’t enough.  Consider these:

Digital Citizenship.  When used in a safe place with the guidance of a trusted adult students, of all ages, learn positive digital citizenship skills.  They learn how to carefully choose their words; speaking to others in text only absent of facial cues and tone of voice.  They learn how to be private.  Mining what to share and keep to themselves.  They learn how to sift out fact; recognizing factual information versus opinion versus fictional.  Recognizing when people are tweeting as themselves or if someone is impersonating them.  Understanding the purpose of  marketing campaigns and that businesses are reaching out in new and inventive ways.

Purpose.  Change it.  Using social networks, like Twitter, in the classroom changes how people use (and view) it.  If we are using Twitter to share resources with students we are changing the purpose.  If we expect our students to share resources with each other we are changing the purpose.  If students are using it as a tool to answer burning and lingering questions they are changing the purpose of it.  If students are speaking to and/or following experts in the fields of science, history, language, and mathematics they are changing the purpose of it.

Why Twitter?  Because it transforms.

Participating in a Twitterview

This past week my students had the opportunity to participate in a Twitterview, a Twitter Interview.  My kiddos loved it!  (I did, too.)  The energy and excitement was quite something to see as they used Twitter, an infamous social network (one of the big three), to interview someone.  A few tips in the event you participate in a Twitterview.

Before the Twitterview:

  1. Know who you are interviewing.  If you are interviewing a famous person, network, or entity make sure that it is a verified account.  This little mark proves that the account tweeting as Barack Obama is the real Barack Obama and not some imposter.
  2. Know if your interviewee needs your questions beforehand.  This is helpful in case additional research is needed to be done.  Also, some responses may require thought on how to keep within the 140 character limit.
  3. Spend time before the Twitterview generating questions.  Whole group, small group, individually.  Students, at all ages, need guidance in generating questions and determining what is appropriate to ask.
  4. Have guidelines (netiquette, Acceptable Use Policy, etc.) created before the Twitterview.  If possible, create them with your students to ensure an inclination to follow them.
  5. Students need to know the ins and outs of tweeting.  How to mention someone so that they are speaking directly to them.  How to include hashtags (#) if they are required.  How to reply if they want to follow up with a question or comment.  How to favorite tweets in case they come across one they want to go back to in the future.
  6. Know how much time you have to participate in the Twitterview.  Thirty to sixty minutes is a good amount of time.  And it may take the first ten to fifteen minutes for the conversation to get going.
  7. Know how the questions will be asked.  Will the kiddos be taking turns?  Asking them all at once?  Staggering the questions?
  8. Make sure the students know which questions are being asked by everyone.  It may happen just because the conversation is going quickly, but you want to ensure that questions are not repeated.
  9. Review the guidelines immediately before the Twitterview, keeping expectations fresh in their minds.

During the Twitterview:

  1. Have the stream displayed.   You can use Twitter itself as long as you are following all of the people participating in the chat or you are using a hashtag.  Or you can use Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, or Hootesuite.  One reason I do this is so that I can monitor / moderate the chat; ensuring that my students are following our Twittequette.  The second reason why I do this is because the internet connection on our mobile devices is finicky and not all of the kiddos get live updates.  With streaming they can.BrainPOP! Twitterview
  2. Walk around the room to ensure that the students remain focused on the interview.  If the entire class is participating, this is necessary.  A slow internet connection can make it frustrating and kiddos can choose to do something else to fill their time.  (A reason why it is important to display the Twitterview stream.)
  3. If someone violates the guidelines, hold them accountable.   You would do this with any classroom task.  On any field trip.  This experience is no different.
  4. Keep the conversation going.  Sometimes kiddos will need encouraging to reply or ask their question.  Make sure the flow is at a good pace for both sides of the interview.  Interviewers need time to post questions and read responses.  Interviewees need time to read questions and respond.  Particularly if the entire class is participating.
  5. Reinforce the positive online behavior the kiddos are participating in.  The more it is reinforced the more they will do it until it becomes a habit!
  6. Enjoy it!  It is quite exciting to be talking to an expert or someone famous.  Imagine what that’s like for a child!

After the Twitterview:

  1. Thank the person / people on the other side of the Twitterview.  They took time out of their schedule and/or workday to chat with your students.  The students need to show their appreciation for that.
  2. Process the Twitterview.  Use an interactive teaching strategy for students to demonstrate in some way what they learned.
  3. Be transparent about how Twitter was just used to learn.  Except … have the kiddos come to that conclusion on their own.  Pose a question that will allow them to reflect on how Twitter was used.  How it is different from most people’s view of Twitter.
  4. If they aren’t already, encourage your students to follow who they just interviewed.  This will extend the learning experience and possibly create a mentor relationship.
  5. Highlight all of the positive online behavior you witnessed as the kiddos participated in during the Twitterview.  Even better … have them highlight it!  Positive peer reinforcement makes an impact and will strengthen the likelihood of positive online behavior becoming a habit.

Importance of Student Voice

When school districts and/or campuses decide to take the leap into social media they often do so after a great deal of consideration.  While I am of the ‘dive right in’ and ‘just do it’ mentality, I understand why some are more cautious.  And yet there is one thing that is consistently left out of these articles and decisions.  Students.  Being proactive and knowing what your own limitations is important and helpful.  It is even more important that students are included in the process.   They can be included in various parts of the process, from start to finish.  But the most important part of the process they need to be involved in is determining how to appropriately use it.

When it comes to deciding what can be posted on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube go to the students.  They’ll be able to tell you that.  They use social networks often enough that they can easily identify what is offensive or improper.  If you want to ensure that f-bombs won’t be thrown around online when social media is being used in (or out ) of the classroom, go to the kiddos.  They will be the first ones to state what type of language should be used online.   The same can be said about sharing content.  While students may need a bit of assistance identifying copyrighted materials and how to share them, they are fully aware of what it means to ‘rip off’ someone else’s work.

One of the biggest reasons why districts have been reluctant to embrace social media is because of cyber cruelty.  The deaths of Phoebe Prince, Tyler Clementi, and Megan Meier have shown the degrees of cruelty (intended or not) that kiddos can inflict on others.  However, kiddos of all ages do know how important it is to be kind to others.  In fact, they want to be kind to others (even though sometimes things get in the way of that).  Every year I create online guidelines with my students, they inevitably come up with something that has to do with being kind, honest, and/or respectful.  They want to do it, and they can do it.  We just have to hold them accountable.

Safety can also be a concern.  Understandably so with how we are frightened, on a daily basis, by stories of online predators.  Truth be told, over the years we have done a bang up job teaching kiddos about stranger danger.  Such a good job that they know that caution has to be extended online.  When I ask my students about how to stay safe online they always have great insight and suggestions!  They know not to talk to strangers.  They also know that they should be keeping some things private.  But what they don’t know is how to do that.

Today’s students are not only more intuitive when it comes to using technology, but they are also more aware of how to behave online.  They know that they need to be positive, honest, and kind.  They know they should be using language that is appropriate for their age and school.  They know they need to keep some things personal and private.  They know they need to think when they are online.  What these articles need  to be saying and what districts need to be outlining, is how we are going to listen to what our students already know and then build off of that.