Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating Professional Edu-Lurkers - Using Twitter Search to Introduce Twitter

Over the past two weeks I've been a part of several conversations with educators about using social media to expand learning networks. These were wonderful conversations that all lead to helping one another learn more about inspiring students. Sure enough nearly each of those conversations lead to the following question, "Why aren't more teachers using Twitter?" It was usually solicited with a look of bewilderment. As if everyone in the world was Tweeting and these "nonTweeters" were some type of unlearned individuals. "We tweet. Therefore, we are."
In my experience with introducing Twitter to the "nonTweeters" is that it can be a very scary place. What with all those @ symbols and funny looking links. And oh don't forget those number signs. Those hashags! What are they? What do they mean! There's just so many of them. #confused So, trying to convince an apprehensive "nonTweeter" to just create a Twitter account was wrong on my part. Then someone showed me Twitter Search
Oh Twitter Search, you magical thing! The best way to describe Twitter Search is to say, it's like a Google Search for Twitter. Go ahead. Try it. Search for some edu-wondernous like "digital citizenship" or "common  core".  I'll continue after the break. Click the image to get started. 

Pretty awesome isn't it. This is NOW how I introduce Twitter to the "nonTweeters". Sorry, I mean fellow educators. No account necessary. No registration. No username. No password. No commitment. Yet! Remember, baby steps. I pretty much encourage #lurking. But for an educational good cause.

How I Teach Edu-Lurking 101
Step 1
I ask them to search for edu topics using Twitter Search. Type it in the search box and hit enter! Don't let them get too broad in their search though. If I know what content area my participants teach, I will try to prepare a list of some topics to search for ahead of time. You will always have that one math teacher who searches, "5th grade adding improper fractions with and without common denominators games based on common core standards". This is usually where the 140 character limit conversation comes in.
Step 2
I tell them to find a tweet with a #, an @ and a link because we're going to "unpack" the tweet. Get it! "unpack" the tweet. Ha! That's a joke for all my "unpacking the standards" folks. Uh-hem. Ok. Moving on. 
Next, I ask them, "What do you want to know about your chosen tweet?" Common questions:
  • Does this person know I'm looking at their tweet?
  • Why are the messages so short?
  • What's the "#" symbol?
  • Can I click the "#" symbol?
  • Why is there an "@" symbol?
  • Why are there three "@" symbols?
  • What's an RT?
  • Why are there so many pictures of eggs as profile pictures?
  • Can there be public and private conversations?
I like to let them explore. They are more likely to click links and hashtags if they know they don't have an account linked. This is where "ah-ha" moments happen. Participants begin to find resources and ideas that they can use in their classroom immediately! 
Step 3
I tell them to search for people and organizations. This is the perfect opportunity to have discussion on digital citizenship and professionalism and what it can mean to have a Twitter account. We talk about the positives and the challenges of having an account. Again, I try to give them a list of edu-Tweeters and organizations to search for. 
Step 4 
I was able to meet @cybraryman this
year at METC13. 
Usually, there are one or two that are excited and are ready to set up accounts immediately. They want to know who else they should follow and how can they find more people. So for those that are ready, I provide them the Twitter Holy Grail. Jerry Blumengarten's (@cybraryman) Twitter pages.

Educational Twitter Hashtags - by Jerry Blumengarten
Educational Twitter Chats - by Jerry Blumengarten 

If you're having some of the same conversations that I had about introducing educators to Twitter, I highly recommend starting them with Twitter Search.  It's easy. It only takes 3 seconds to get them looking at Twitter, finding useful tweets and you're not forcing them to remember another username and password that they may never use. Good luck!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

See What I See

A reflective post? This never happens. 

I just wrapped up a 30 minute presentation on an upcoming Bond Measure that the community will be voting for on April 2. The purpose of my presentation was to give principals information on how we plan to use the potential funds to enhance technology in our district. 
My takeaway was at the beginning. Before my "official" presentation even started.
Prior the presentation I played the video below. 
We've all seen it. It's a great video. Inspirational. Motivational. Funny. Cute. But as I watched it, I looked at it in a new way (It wasn't an epiphany or anything, just a cool thought). My thought was, I want our students to create something inspirational like this. I want our students to express themselves with media. I'm sure many of you had the same thought. Or not. You've done enough student videos to make your head spin. My head isn't even turning. 
So after the video, I made a couple of enthusiastic comments.
"How awesome would it be if our students made a similar video!" 
"Don't you think our students would love to have their voice heard?"
"This guy must be so proud to see his work shine!" 
Blank stares. My enthusiasm was met with blank stares. Ok, maybe one or two nods of agreement. Those were by the principals who love when I come to help their teachers. And I am very appreciative of this. But I wanted new leaders to share my excitement. 
Student videos. I know this is not a new idea. But I do know that this is something that we do not do in our district. 
Why do school leaders not see what I see? Maybe it was too early in the morning. Maybe the coffee was bad. Maybe it's February and the pressure of state testing is on. Maybe I'm not selling my ideas the right way. Maybe I'm not selling my ideas the right way. Maybe I need to work on my salesmanship. 

To be continued...