What is a Tweet-Up?

I just got back from a ‘tweet-up’ tonight at the Pike Pub & Brewery. It was an interesting concept of gathering folks who use twitter to share and learn from each other. Many thanks to Greg Bamford for organizing this event tonight. I still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to twitter, but in the year that I started, I’ve met incredible people, had new opportunities, and learned a lot.


When I say that I’ve met people – I mean physically. And tonight was another opportunity to turn my virtual learning network into a more personal one. Using twitter, you often see a small thumbnail of someone’s face, but meeting them in person is so much better.

The only downside is that they live in Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, and other states.

Where is the school with educators that are this engaged in leading the change efforts? I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be great to have a school with all these educators working in the same place? I’m not ready to start my own school, but I’m ready to dream.

And if you think twitter is for the young, you are completely wrong. Twitter is for all ages and is simply a mindset. Sign up and try it for 21 days. I promise you, you will learn something.

Are You A 21st Century Teacher?

This is a good list to keep teachers moving forward. I know I’ve got a lot of ground to cover. The list comes from the blog simplek12. It’s a little old (5 months), but I’m new to twitter, and someone I follow retweeted this, and it caught my eye. Trust me, I was very skeptical of twitter, but honestly the resources I’ve found via twitter in the two months since I began trying it out, have been extremely useful. I dabbled in myspace – useless. Facebook is really a social tool. Linked in just doesn’t work that well for me, but Twitter and blogging seem to work for my own professional growth. Anyway, you can find the list below with my comments in green.

“21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Teacher

WRITTEN BY LISA 27 OCTOBER 2010 195 COMMENTS

Are you a 21st Century Teacher? Find out! PLUS if you can help me add to my list you may win a special $200 prize. Keep reading to find out how…

1. You require your students to use a variety of sources for their research projects…and they cite blogs, podcasts, and interviews they’ve conducted via Skype. Not there yet – remember I teach 2nd grade, yet this doesn’t mean this can’t be done.

2. Your students work on collaborative projects…with students in Australia. Also not there yet.

3. You give weekly class updates to parents…via your blog. Yes, and class website.

4. Your students participate in class…by tweeting their questions and comments. Again, I teach 2nd grade and am fairly new to this tool.

5. You ask your students to study and create reports on a controversial topic…and you grade their video submissions. Yes to the first statement, and I offer video submissions as an option, but haven’t received one yet. 

6. You prepare substitutes with detailed directions…via Podcasts. Cool idea, never thought of it.

7. You ask your students to do a character/historical person study…and they create mock social media profiles of their character. Not yet.

8. Your students create a study guide…working together on a group wiki. Boy am I feeling so last century.

9. You share lesson plans with your teacher friends…from around the globe. Just starting to do this. 

10. Your classroom budget is tight…but it doesn’t matter because there are so many free resources on the web you can use. Exactly.

11. You realize the importance of professional development…and you read blogs, join online communities, and tweet for self development. One of the main reasons I do it. 

12. You take your students on a field trip to the Great Wall of China…and never leave your classroom. The pyramids of Giza, King Tut’s Tomb, but Great Wall of China may come soon (one of my students chose it as part of her independent research project)

13. Your students share stories of their summer vacation…through an online photo repository. I don’t share photos of my students unless they’re behind a password protected page.

14. You visit the Louvre with your students…and don’t spend a dime. Did that with the Museé National Picasso in Paris before our visit to the Seattle Art Museum whem it’s collection was here. 

15. You teach your students not to be bullies…or cyberbullies. Definitely. One of the reasons I think kids should use tech early is so they can use it responsibly and respectfully. They need to learn how to use it as a tool, not a crutch, and they also need to learn to turn it off. 

16. You make your students turn in their cell phones before class starts…because you plan on using them in class. Not something of concern with second graders.

17. You require your students to summarize a recent chapter…and submit it to you via a text message. Pencil and paper still work for this one.

18. You showcase your students’ original work…to the world. No, but I put them on our class website.

19. You have your morning coffee…while checking your RSS feed. It’s an evening thing for me, so no coffee.

20. You are reading this. This must be a bonus.

21. You tweet this page, blog about it, “like” it, or email it to someone else…” Another bonus.

Well I’m only just over the halfway mark, but it’s already growth from last year.  There are some other experiments I’ve tried this year.

Using donated old iphones for dictionaries next to traditional ones.

Those same iphones as web browsers when the other computers are being used. And kids using them as cameras to document their work.

Some great learning apps on the ipad (attained with Scholastic points) and those donated iphones (I got 3 – most parents give their old ones to their kids when they upgrade, but why not ask).

Having kids turn in projects in as a powerpoint deck (and learning some tips about design so we don’t end up with death by powerpoint) – They taught themselves how to use ppt in one 45 minute session where they were asked to simply play, discover, click, and figure out on their own what each button did. 

Assigning Khan Academy as homework.

And finally, using social media to share, learn, and grow as a teacher. You have to start somewhere. It’s been useful for me. 



Tweachers

I am exceptionally lucky to work with very bright and capable colleagues who are willing to share what they know. Nonetheless, there is still a lot to learn elsewhere and a myriad of ways to do it. All the ed journals talk about growing your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and as a follow up to the NAIS conference, a few teachers in TX put out a webinar for free to teach teachers how to use twitter as a tool to do exactly that. It was a great workshop. I learned a whole lot. For example, you could follow tweets in foreign languages and have it translated instantly. Again, while there is no way to replace face to face interaction, if the online tools are dynamic and useful, one can learn a lot.

I’m fairly new to twitter, and finally got my feet wet to use it as tool to follow the NAIS conference. Social network sites are something I’ve dabbled with a few social network sites, but haven’t always found how they could be useful in my professional life. Besides, not everything about one’s personal life needs to be shared, nor do all the circles of people in my life cross.  Myspace was interesting, but it didn’t really stick for me and I’ve long since abandoned it. Facebook is good for sharing photos, keeping an up to date contact list, catching up with old friends and family you haven’t seen in a while, and is not really a professional tool for me.  Linked-in is really just a place to share your professional history, there’s some interactivity, but it’s limited. Yammer’s been working well as an in-house way of sharing at our school. Blogging is a nice way to communicate, but following all the blogs you enjoy reading for professional development, let alone the ones you read for pleasure, can sometimes be a daunting task.

Enter Twitter. Where you can ‘follow’ everyone from Bill Gates to Edutopia, or other teachers eager to share resources. You can follow a children’s book author or Daniel Pink. You can even search for tweets or follow certain terms that are of interest to you, like #edtech. Twitter’s been something I’ve been reluctant to get into, but sometimes getting ones feet wet,  is all it takes to see its value.

With just 140 characters, you can get through all the people or organizations you follow and only click on the links that interest you, if any. I spend a few minutes on it, click on a few articles I want to read and that’s it. Many of those articles are ones from ed journals that have crowded my inbox, and it’s been nice to unsubscribe and just follow them.

One thing someone mentioned in the webinar is to  follow people who have dissenting opinions. People naturally gravitate to like-minded folks, and it’s good to see things from multiple perspectives.

Anyway, I haven’t tweeted much apart from this blog tweeting each post. There’s much to learn and many resources which I’ll look at and share soon. And – I didn’t make up the word in my title.

The webinar was recorded, so if you’re inclined, you can view it here.