How to Twitter Chat

Twitter website screenshotCreative Commons License Spencer E Holtaway via Compfight

*This was originally posted on Aug. 13, 2013. Updates were made on April 26, 2016 and February 7, 2017.

If you’re getting ready to participate in a Twitter chat for the first time, this little post may be helpful to you.

I’ll be using #nebedchat (Nebraska Education Chat) as an example because it’s a chat I’m involved in either as a moderator or more frequently, as a participant.

1. The first thing to remember is always use the chat’s hashtag in all of the tweets you send in response to the chat. In this case, the hashtag is #nebedchat. Make sure that you leave enough space in your tweet for that hashtag because it counts against your 140 character.

2.  When you use a hashtag like #nebedchat, it creates a backchannel. A backchannel is just a place where ALL of the tweets that include the hashtag show up. You’ll notice a variety of tweets below. I captured this series of tweets whilst in the #nebedchat backchannel. Notice that all of the tweets include the #nebedchat hashtag.

NOTE: Click on the images in this entry to get a larger, clearer view of the screen captures I posted.

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3. Make sure you are in the LIVE backchannel (This shows everything that was tweeted.), rather than the TOP TWEETS tab, which will only show you the tweets that get “favorited” a lot.

Some people use an app like TweetDeck to keep an eye on multiple hashtags, but when I am participating in a chat, here is what I do. I use Firefox, if I’m using my Macbook Air, and Safari, if I’m using my iPad, so that I can open multiple tabs simultaneously. I like to keep the backchannel for the chat AND my Twitter interactions tab open at the same time. That way I can see EVERY tweet posted in the backchannel as well as all tweets directed specifically to me.

 

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(Any time someone posts something with my Twitter handle -@morgetron- it shows up in my interactions feed.) I toggle between these two tabs throughout the chat.

4. When you first arrive to a chat, it is usual practice to introduce yourself briefly–usually your name and occupation will do, but sometimes a moderator will ask for additional information.

In the tweet below, #nebedchat moderator, Chris (@chrisstogdill) asked everyone to introduce him/herself by tweeting his/her name, the school where he/she works or is associated with, his/her current position in said school and he briefly explained the preferred format for that night’s chat.

 

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Many time there will be someone else designated as chat greeter too, so don’t be surprised if after you introduce yourself, someone other than the moderator welcomes you to the chat (though sometimes the moderator does double as a greeter as well). During busy chats, this practice is sometimes dropped, but #nebedchat-ters are notoriously friendly and odds are someone will pipe in with a warm welcome.

5. During a chat, the moderator typically uses a specific format which he/she generally will explain at the beginning of the chat (but not always). The most common format is this: The moderator poses a question, using the Q1, Q2, Q3 format. Like this:

Chris was the moderator and posed Question #2, by indicating Q2.

 

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6. Then, when you answer a particular question, you use the corresponding A1, A2, A3, etc.

Cynthia (@cynthiastogdill) responded to Chris’s Q2 by indicating A2 (Answer 2).

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I like Lenessa’s (@lenessakeehn) explanation for this practice as well:

 

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6. During a chat you can respond to the questions posed by the moderator OR you can respond to what other people are saying. For example, you will notice that Laura (@mandery) responded to one of Chris’s questions. Then TJ Meyer (@tjmeyer12) responded to Laura’s tweet and included Kid President’s handle, (@iamkidpresident) since Laura mentioned him in her tweet. Laura tweeted back at TJ and then Daisy (@DaisyDyerDuerr) responded to Laura, TJ, and Kid President.

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7. If you’re responding to what someone else says, you can just click on the REPLY link in the tweet to which you’re responding which should automatically format your tweet with that person’s (or like in Daisy’s case, people’s Twitter handles). You should still include the chat’s hashtag in your response though so that others involved in the chat can read your responses. Below, I included a screen capture of what it looks like when I clicked on the “reply” function on Daisy’s tweet. It automatically formatted my tweet to include Daisy’s, Laura’s, TJ’s, and Kid President’s Twitter handles. If I wanted to just reply to Daisy, I would remove the others’ names.

 

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8. The main thing about Twitter chats is this–> You’ll be sharing in learning by communicating with people from all over. (You’ll notice that many people who participate in #nebedchat are educators from Nebraska, but others will be from elsewhere. For example, Daisy is from Arkansas. We have people joining us from all over the U.S. and from other countries as well.) View it as a friendly conversation–like people gathering at a coffee shop to discuss common topic of interest. It’s really low-pressure and you will be able to both give and receive helpful information.

9. If you are new to Twitter or new to Twitter chats or just a nervous lurker with a desire to break free from lurker status into active Tweep, #nebedchat is an excellent place to start. I would argue it is one of the friendliest chats out there. As long as you are there in the spirit of learning, everyone will deliver a warm welcome to you.

Are you still unsure about this? It’s okay to try things of which you are unsure. If you are really nervous though, tweet me (@morgetron) or send me an email and I will answer any questions you have: morgetron@gmail.com.

 

 

My friend@THLibrariZen and I will be moderating #nebedchat (Nebraska Education Chat) on Wed. February 8, 2017 at 9 PM CST. Rather than a topic, we will have a theme, and all of our questions are inspired by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. We hope you can pop in.

Little Things

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Often it’s the little things that make life in our classrooms easier.

GOLF PENCILS. One of the biggest roadblocks to getting down to business is the old “I don’t have a writing utensil” problem. Instead of getting all uptight and letting it derail a portion of a class period, I keep lots of golf pencils on hand. It removes the hassle. “I need a pencil” + “Okay here” is a lot less stressful than “Goll dangit kid! Can’t you just be responsible? I guess you’ll have to go to your locker or borrow from a friend or give me your shoe so I get it back!” (Who really wants a high school student’s shoe? I mean … really.)

CARPET SQUARES. I listen to lectures better when I am a doodling. Some people like to have something in their hands to play with to help them focus. Other people are tappers. While doodling and fidgeting are usually not distracting to others, tapping can be, so I keep carpet squares on hand. The students can drum them with their hands or a pen or pencil and it pretty much muffles the sound altogether. My tappers and the people around them can all be happy at once.

WHISPER PHONES. Reading aloud is helpful to some students. It’s one more kinesthetic layer to their learning. Obviously, if you have a room full of students trying to read, some prefer quiet though. Reading aloud isn’t quiet, unless you whisper into a whisper phone (which can easily be made with two PVC elbows). You hold it like a phone and whisper it into one end and the sound travels to your ear through the “C” without broadcasting to the room. I can have a room full of silent readers with a handful of students quietly reading to themselves out loud. This works well too for students who are checking their own writing for errors in a quiet room and need to listen for errors (because we often catch errors with our ears that our eyeballs miss).

DRUM. Reading your own writing aloud in front of peers is for some reason less scary when you have a drum accompaniment. Weird, but true. Also, if you teach English, the drum is vital for any reading of “The Telltale Heart.”

None of these ideas are mine. I’ve learned of them from other educators over the years, and like a chef using someone else’s recipe, I’ve tweaked them to make them work in my classroom.

the thing about creative projects …

The responses I receive when students find out we are doing a creative project are wide and varied.

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Some (probably obvious) observations:
1. Some students, no matter how much time you give them, will always waste it and become enraged on the actual due date, when there is a consequence for not being done. That could speak to many things — engagement, learning difficulties, distractions that have nothing to do with your class, distractions that have everything to do with your class …
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2. Some students have no desire to tap into the creativity that I know resides in all people. Some just have no desire to do so in English class. These same students probably exhibit creativity in other areas of their lives or could if they tried. In fact, I’m certain of it. They might not even recognize their creativity as creativity at times.
3. Because some students don’t demonstrate creativity in an English class, many of them grow up believing that they are not creative. How can we change that? For example, my husband used to say he wasn’t creative, but after watching him repurpose thing after thing after thing that another person would probably throw out into something useful, I had to convince him that he was indeed creative. He might not write a poem, but he IS creative.
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4. Some students are project-ed out. Teachers today, overall do a good job of trying to mix things up for their students, so much in fact, that students are often bombarded by projects–sometimes all at once. This is one piece of evidence that may help in proving the value of co/intercurricular projects. Why not kill two (or more) projects with one stone?

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5. Sometimes I think teachers (myself included) are not as creative as we could be in offering different ways of allowing students to demonstrate creativity in learning. (Confusing! And ironic!)

Questions for other educators:

What are some ways you have allowed students to demonstrate their learning creatively?

Have you ever allowed your students to go “free-range” on how they demonstrate learning? If so, what were the results? 

What are some things that you’ve seen students do that might not be recognized as “creative” but are creative? 

How can we tap into EVERYONE’s creativity, or at least give them a fighting chance to do so? 

 

I am an activist teacher.

X is for...340/365

Creative Commons License AndYaDontStop via Compfight

It’s amazing how a 20-minute conversation can change the way you view yourself. Just like that, I became an activist teacher. 20 minutes! I have never thought of teaching as a political act prior to today, and I feel naive admitting this, because now it seems so obvious, but in the interest of transparency and honesty I’m sharing this with you, dear reader. I’ve always considered myself a little bit of a quiet system bucker, even in my earliest days of teaching, but the word “activist” wasn’t on my radar in relation to ME.

Today the class I am in went and visited another class that has been studying teacher activism. We rotated through two of three stations and in one of the sessions they asked us to think of a time when we opposed a policy, curricular choice, or something else in our school and what step we took to oppose it. It was very easy for me (and my colleagues) to come up with several examples. The older I get the more squeaky of  a wheel I become. I cannot stand idly by and allow things that are not good for our students to happen.

When I think about the educators I admire most, (from those I’ve studied –John Dewey, Paulo Friere, Ira Shor, bell hooks, Jean Piaget–to those I’ve grown to admire more recently–Rick Wormeli, Ken O’Connor, Sir Ken Robinson, Diane Ravitch, many of my Twitter friends–and those I know personally–you know who you are …) I have come to realize that one of the reasons I am drawn to them is because they stand up for what is right for students.

Every time I make a decision in the interest of my students, even if it goes against the status quo, I am an activist. Every time I post something on my blog that aims to change the way someone thinks, I am an activist. Each time I defend public education to the naysayers, I am an activist. Each time I stand up for my students, I am an activist. Acknowledging this makes me feel brave.

I might be taking small steps in the world of activism compared to other more public figures in education or even some of you that I know more personally, but as my confidence builds, so shall my activism, especially now that I know I am an activist.

 

 

Kids these days: They just don’t know how to communicate …

 

The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

~ Kakuzo Okakaura

There are all sorts of posts on social media and comments being made about how “kids these days” are becoming less social and less able to interact socially/intelligently because of smartphones and tablets and computers and drones and wifi and cyborgs … (WATCH THIS–> We are ALL cyborgs now. ~ Amber Case)  but I can tell you that this weekend I took a road trip with three 12/13-year-old girls who spent the entire weekend reading, writing, researching, AND speaking with one another both through traditional language (speaking), through writing (texting, messaging) and through visuals (Instagramming, SnapChatting). They type; they talk; they make videos; they share images; they giggle; they consume viral content; they CREATE content; they experiment; and they are just like I was when I was 12, except that they have modern technology–(just like I had modern technology when I was 12. It just happens to be 26-year-old technology at this point in history).

Here is one of the many non-digital activity the girls participated in this weekend.

Here is one of the many non-digital activity the girls participated in this weekend.

 

I understand why people see it this way. There are people (kids and adults) who over-use the technology that is so readily available to us. There are people who rarely see sunshine, or have hunched backs from constantly huddling over screens. There are people who have taken waaaay too many pictures of themselves (myself included). But, I do not believe for a second that modern technology hinders communication. Social media is a form of literacy. If you don’t learn it, you will become, in a way, illiterate. Refusal to learn is refusal to live life to its full potential.

The girls spent a lot of time using their screened devices. I am the mean mother who still hasn’t purchased a smartphone (nor a stupid phone) for my daughter, but she has an iPad from school and her friend has two smartphones, so she let my daughter borrow the smartphone she no longer uses, as a wifi-ready device for the weekend. There were several remarkable things I’d like to note about what happened our trip.

On the way to South Dakota, the girls decided that they wondered what it would be like to time-lapse themselves for the entire way there. One of the girls time-lapsed herself sleeping the other night and that idea spurred this idea. They set up one of the iPads and began time-lapsing the trip. Then they decided it would be pretty awesome to not only have a time-lapse of themselves, but also of the road, so they set up a second iPad. We had simultaneous time-lapsing going on. It was a rather nifty experiment.

This was part of our self-guided statue tour of the USD campus.

This was part of our self-guided statue tour of the USD campus.

 

The next thing that happened was they did a lot of sharing through digital communication. They also talked … a lot. They would be talking while they were sending each other digital content. Color-me-impressed with how much talking occurred this weekend. (It was nearly non-stop.)

These girls are documentarians. If you wanted to create a timeline of our weekend, you could. You might be overwhelmed by the massive body of work, but you could definitely chart our activities through the girls’ pictures and posts. At the end of the trip, my daughter’s two friends told their moms to follow me on Instagram so that they could see what their weekend was like. As a mom, I would really like to be able to see that. If my child is away from me, I would find it a blessing to know what she did while she was away. (Now that my oldest daughter is away at college, this is especially true!)

Anytime the girls were unsure of something, they researched it online. The answers are there. We were able to talk about website credibility through this. We were also able to practice concert etiquette–one of the important components being–>put your phones away during the concert! When the girls started to interact in catty ways with girls who weren’t physically there, we had the opportunity to talk about how staying out of “the drama” of being a girl is really better than engaging in it. If someone baits you online, it’s best to not take the bait! We had some excellent conversations. If someone says “like for a #TBH DM” don’t hit LIKE. Don’t do it! I learned some things this weekend, but I think they did too.

We saw three separate concerts while we were at USD this weekend.

We saw three separate concerts while we were at USD this weekend.

 

At one point during the trip, there was a “fight,” as often happens when you get three girls together for any extended period of time. After said fight and after a little parental intervention (AKA group therapy sesh), I witnessed the three girls work out a problem they were having through Snapchat. One of them sent an (intentionally) unattractive photo of herself to the other with the message, “Why can’t we be fweinds?” right before the concert started, and then they were all holding in laughs and giving each other knowing looks that conveyed “WE ARE FRIENDS” or “fwiends” if you will. Up until that point, I thought Snapchat was a good-for-nothing app that served only as a way to send inappropriate images to one another under the guise of “safe anonymity”. It still CAN be that–no doubt about it–but if we educate our children how to use such apps responsibly, then amazingly enough, even Snapchat can be useful.

In addition to all the things I mentioned above, we also saw three collegiate orchestral, concert and symphonic band concerts, went thrift store shopping, took a self-guided tour of the statues of the USD campus, went swimming, sang songs, visited the National Music Museum where we were all able to take a crack at playing the gamelan and my youngest daughter got to spend (face-to-face) time with her big sis.

We took three "groupies" as the girls called them or "us-ies" as Dave Guymon calls them (which I favor due to the connotation of "groupies" in my generational vernacular. We took one at every concert.

We took three “groupies” as the girls called them or “us-ies” as Dave Guymon calls them (which I favor due to the connotation of “groupies” in my generational vernacular). We took one at every concert.

 

So, do these devices make us less social? NO. We may socialize in different ways, but we are not less social. Are kids super-self-centered in that they take a thousand selfies per minute? YES. Have you ever heard of a generation of adolescents who have not been self-absorbed though? They may have shown their self-absorption in other ways, but kids have always been on some level (varying by individual, of course) of the belief that they are the sun and the rest of the people in their lives are the world–revolving around them. Being self-absorbed at that age is NORMAL. My friends and I used to stare at ourselves FOR HOURS … (no hyperbole here … ) in the mirror making weird faces and bursting into laughter. HOURS. Now, they just do it into a screen and possibly make a montage of the most awkward photos or a mashup or a meme. If my friends and I could’ve done the same, we would’ve.

YES: Our kids do lead digital lives, but they haven't stopped interacting socially with one another. They just are doing it in new ways. Their kids will do it in new ways 20 years from now. Just like I did in new ways than my parents. It's called change. It's what happens as time marches on.

YES: Our kids do lead digital lives, but they haven’t stopped interacting socially with one another. They just are doing it in new ways. Their kids will do it in ways currently unimagined  20 years from now.

 

Balance. Of course, we need balance in everything we do–not just in digital VS. face-to-face interactions, and technology vs. nature–but in work vs. play, health vs. indulgence, physical vs. mental activity, fun vs. serious, and so on. Technology changes communication, but in my opinion, communication is easier today than it has ever been. Communication is more creative today than it ever has been. And kids are the same as they ever were; they just have new ways of expressing themselves.

In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

~ Eric Hoffer

#slowchated Poetry is for everyone (AND this is a party)!

This post is cross-posted here: #SLOWCHATED BLOG.
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You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

~ Carol Ann Duffy

April is National Poetry month, which means that April is a month that ONLY English teachers should be interested in … right?

EL-WRONGO-BONGO.

Poetry is for EVERYONE … even you, and you, and especially you … and your grandma, and your best friend and your grandma’s best friend. So let’s get this party started with some personal definitions of poetry. Nothing says PAR-TAY like defining words. #W00t! <smashes generic cola can into forehead>

Remember: It’s a party, so be raw; be honest. If you hate poetry, tell us why. If you love it, wreck a guitar and tell us about it. Wear a jaunty hat, and flirt with the idea of wearing false eyelashes–just for this week–just for our party. Also: Glitter. There can never be too much glitter. Consider all of this as you think up your definition of poetry.

I’m going to to ease you into this with a question, but FAIR WARNING, much of what I’ll be asking of you this week will not be so much questions as they will be TASKS or better yet … PARTY GAMES. Consider DAY 1 the ice-breaker-mingly-honeymoon-fancy cheese-and-crackers phase of the party.

Day 1 (Q1): What is Poetry? #slowchated

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti said, “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” Carl Sandburg said, “Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.” Bob Dylan said, “I think a poet is anybody who wouldn’t call himself a poet.” Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically, as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Rita Dove said, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Marianna Moore said, “Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.” Leonard Cohen said, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

How do YOU define poetry? Feel free to be straightforward or … poetic. I want to hear from some English teachers, of course, but I for sure want to hear from EVERYONE else too.

DAY 2/QUESTION 2:

Q2.1: What is your fave poem or if you hate poetry (WHY?) what is your most palatable poem? (Provide a link, if possible.) #slowchated

Q2.2: Tell us WHY said poem is your fave or more palatable than others … For a bonus points, do an interpretive dance. #slowchated

(Yes, it’s THAT kind of party.)

DAY 3/Question 3:

PARTY TRICK TIME–>Q3: How is education like a poem? Education is like a poem because …

Q3expansion: You can insert any edu-term in there, if you so desire … Learning/Teaching/Education is like a poem because … #slowchated

DAY 4/QUESTIONS 4, 5, and 6

I’m going to add QUESTIONS 4, 5, AND 6 on DAY 4 because I’m AGAIN breaking the rules … which sort of makes me a poet, eh? Eh? EHHH? I’m viewing questions 4, 5, and 6 as a “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE” because I know that we are all busy people and there’s probably a good chance that none of us will have time to do ALL THREE (four really –hehehe) of these things because, as I stated before, they are more so TASKS than they are QUESTIONS, so if you would choose just one of these things, it would make me infinitely happy. I’m also hoping that by giving you a head’s up about Question 6.1 and 6.2 that it will increase the likelihood that more of you will do it (since you have three whole days to do it! Of course, if you were able to get to all three, you would get the PARTY HARDY award from this here poetry party.

Q4:Let’s brainstorm a million or less ideas for ways to use poetry (especially in the non-ELA classroom).

Q5: Write a less than 140 character poem about the topic of your choice and tweet it at us.

Q6.1: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of your favorite poem by someone else.

or

Q6.2: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of a poem YOU wrote.

Can you imagine what a fan-freakin-tastic archive this will be, if we all made a video?

POETRY RESOURCES for ALL Y’ALL.

20 POETS on the MEANING of POETRY

WHAT is POETRY? 50 DEFINITIONS and COUNTING

POEMS.COM

POETRY 180

POETRY ABOUT POETRY

POETRY FOUNDATION

IDEAS for EVERYDAY FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH+

POETRY EVERYWHERE!

Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.

~ Jack Kerouac

#slowchated Week 5: Balancing Life as an Educator AKA The Wild Ride

This is cross-posted here –> SLOWCHATED.

Now that week 6 is nearly coming to a close, I am ready to publish (the overly long) reflection of Week 5. (Brevity in writing is NOT one of my strong-points. Brevity in speaking is a specialty, so don’t ask me to TELL you about Week 5; you’ll just have to read about it here). Please note: I consider this a draft, but since it is overdue, I’m going to go ahead and hit “PUBLISH” and go back and edit later, which WILL include re-working the jacked up format.

Jeffrey Farley (@FarleyJeffrey) summed Week 5 up best:

During Week 5, we managed to explore this wide topic deeply (& sometimes irreverently) & the moderator (yours truly) was tricky–a cheater really–who had all sorts of sneaky question maneuvers. For example, Question 1 was really two questions. I posted Qs1 with the intention of focusing on the positives we see in education. On the daily, there are so many negative stories in the media that it’s easy to get bogged down with a poor attitude towards our profession. WE know what GOOD STUFF is happening every single day, but it’s a rarity for the media to share it–especially the NATIONAL media.

* Q1.1: Eds-> Tell me something good! In your current position, what brings you joy?

* Q1.2: Edu-Friends-> What are some positive observations you’ve made about education?

The responses to these questions were heartening. Here is a sample. (To see more you can check out the archive. It’s included at the end of this post.) We saw plenty of references to … … supportive administrations:

… staff camaraderie …

… teachers treating students as their own:

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… a little system-bucking, here and there:

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… and of course, plenty of references to our students:

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Day 2 was more practical …

Q2: What are some steps you have taken (or should take) to ensure your work-life balance? #slowchated

Like so many educators, Kevin Ashworth (@SLOlifeKevin) noted that TEACHING is what brings him joy:

Plenty of others chimed in with some sage advice as well.

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Day 3 was opposite day.

* Q3: What are some factors/habits that guarantee teacher burnout?

In short, if you want to burnout, devote your life to nothing but curriculum and standards, never forgive yourself for messing up, hang out by yourself ALL THE TIME, NEVER HAVE FUN and be sure to grade EVERYTHING.

Day 4 proved to be another day of tweaking the format:

* Q4.1 Edu-Newbs: What challenges have you faced regarding work-life balance?

* Q4.2 Edu-Vets: If you were to give a piece of advice to a newb teacher about work-life balance, what would that be?

I will let the tweets speak for themselves. (Remember the archive has so many more. This is just a sample.)

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The Day 5 question was admittedly a loaded question. It made all sorts of assumptions about the #slowchated participants, but it is an open forum, so anyone had the right to challenge it. Some embraced the question and others did question the question, which led to some spirited dialogue.

* Q5: How do you remain positive in a climate of edu-cynicism, edu-ugliness, & edu-enemies?

And I appreciate those who questioned the question …

… and the resulting dialogue …

During week 5 this video went viral, which only served to solidify my belief in the sentiment behind the loaded nature of the Week 5 Question:

I was disenchanted to find out via Facebook friends that this exact style of training had been used recently in a Nebraska district. *Sighhhh* (I sent this video in an email to my principal and director of learning begging them to NOT jump on this bandwagon.)

This question definitely brought out my inner-snark. I get so disheartened when I see report after report about how those in power are attacking our profession under the guise of accountability, so I am at some times swayed into negativity. It’s what gives me my fight though. It’s what keeps me here–because I believe that I can do some good and I can advocate for our profession and my colleagues and my school. My tolerance for policy that is NOT GOOD for students is NIL, so I have to be here to change it. Giving up to the incessant cynicism directed towards our profession will not do anyone any good though it does serve a purpose, I suppose. It forces us to think critically and reflectively about our own practices AND justify them when necessary. Entertaining our own cynicism from time to time can keep us sharp. It can keep the fire burning to fight the good fight.

Question 5 sparked deeper thought from another #slowchated participant as well. Ross LeBrun couldn’t stick to the 140 character limitation, so he wrote this–> HOW MUCH PENCILS? in response to the DAY 5 question.

Day 6 brought us full circle and focused us back on THE GOOD STUFF because THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD STUFF IN EDUCATION!

* Q6 (is not really a Q): Tell us about something you recently witnessed IN YOUR SCHOOL that you consider a POSITIVE ED STORY

I will leave you with another mere sampling of stories that will make you feel good about our profession. Check out the archive for others AND look for them in your own school. You WILL FIND THEM!

And here is the ARCHIVE:

And Change-o Was Her Name-o.

When I started this blog last year–the inaugural year of my school’s 1:1 iPad initiative, I thought the name I chose was so clever. I mean iPad … iTeachiLearn. Get it?

How delightfully clever am I, said I, gleefully clicking my heels in celebration as I hit “publish” for the first time.

But then the other day I was poking around Twitter, when this link came across my feed:

 

I heard a record player’s needle scratch vinyl as I realized … uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh … I’m not the only one. I went and poked around Dave Mulder‘s website: iTeach and iLearn and I was just like “OH MANNNNN” especially when I realized that his blog was older than mine.

Then, I did what any modern-day tech-savvy teacher should do PRIOR to establishing a new blog and Googled “iTeach iLearn” and OF COURSE, Dave’s blog came up and so did a bunch of other stuff that used the same or similar title: There’s an ORG with the same name, as well as an un-uploaded book, an RTI Tier at a school in Washington, a spiral-bound book about iPads, a slideshare slideshow, a barely established Pinterest Board, a NING, and an archive of student podcasts.

Let this be a cautionary tale, friends. Always Google your intended name, pre-establishment.

So, I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking … actually that’s an exaggeration. I had TWO names picked out prior to establishing this blog and I ended up going with iTeach iLearn because of the 1:1 iPad connection. However, though iPads have certainly played a role in my blogging experience, they are not the focus of this blog, so my original name choice is probably more telling anyway. Now, I’m going to reveal to you my new blog name, (which I did Google and came up with ONE similarly named blog, but nothing else, so I’m forging ahead), and the name is … (drum roll, please) … Small Teacher, Big World, same tagline. New name. Same tasty flavor.

And now you know why.

P.S. Dave Mulder plays the ukulele and loves Jesus. I WANT to play the ukulele player and totally love Jesus. Coinkydink? I think not–>We’re actually the same person. DUNdunDUNNNNN.

Just kidding. We’re are definitely NOT the same person, but we both obviously have excellent taste in blog titles.

I have a favorite author today because he made my students feel important.

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a typical interaction between someone else and me about favorite books—>

PERSON: So, who is your favorite author?

ME: I can’t pick one favorite author. I have many favorites.

PERSON: Well, if you HAD to pick one, who would you pick?

ME: I CAN’T! There are too many books. Too many writers. There is so much good writing in the world.

PERSON: Just pick one.

ME: Would you ever demand that I choose a favorite child?

PERSON: Seriously. Just pick one.

ME (shrieking): I TOLD YOU. I CAN’T PICK JUST ONE!!! (At this point, I turn into a werewolf and devour everyone in sight.)

However, today, if you asked me who my favorite author was, I would, without hesitation say, “Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone.” (Winter’s Bone was made into a movie that starred Jennifer Lawrence pre-Hunger Games.)

 Last week, I got it in my head that I wanted to tell Daniel Woodrell about the inspired work my students were doing after reading Winter’s Bone. I searched for and maybe even found his home address (but I wasn’t 100% sure). After some thought, I decided that would be creepy of me to send him a letter to his home anyway (and maybe a waste of time because it might not have even been the right David Woodrell), so I searched for an email address. Nothing came up for him, but when I searched “contact Daniel Woodrell”, I found his literary agent’s assistant’s email address and decided that this would be the most professional way to approach an author with whom I am personally unacquainted.

On Friday, I sent an email to David’s agent’s assistant that explained the project and provided a link for them to go take a look-see.

To give you some background, Winter’s Bone is about Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old girl taxed with looking after her mentally ill mother, and two young brothers, on next to nothing, after her dad goes out one day and doesn’t return. The family lives in the Missouri Ozarks and the action begins when the local sheriff rolls onto Ree’s property to inform her that her father put their house and land up for bail the last time he was arrested (for cooking meth). If he doesn’t show up for court, the house and land will be sold to the highest bidder and Ree and the rest of her family will be living in a cave. Ree has no choice but to go looking for her dad, and in doing so, must face family members who live very rough lives, by some very harsh rules, and one of those rules is that you best be minding your own business, if you know what’s good for yougirl <insert chest poke here> so this poses a challenge for someone who needs information.

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In the assignment, the students found Dolly Family Rules either stated outright or inferred from characters’ dialogue and actions in the text. They each selected one rule and took a picture that somehow represented that rule. Then, using the Aviary app, they overlaid the text with the rules (or the text and the inferred rule) on the photo. They sent the finished products to me and I posted it to an Instagram account I created specifically for this purpose.

Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email!

Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email! He told us that he loved to know that his lonely words found companions in us. He also said that he likes the project and complimented my students’ photography. Then, he revealed that he spent some time in Nebraska back in the 70’s. He even made mention of Aksarben. Needless to say, this simple 6-sentence note that Daniel took the time to sent made ten students and one teacher very happy today. <Swoon.>

Here is my Contemporary Literature class’s Instagram account: DOLLY FAMILY RULES.

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Work Life Balance + Staying Positive in a Not-Always-So-Positive Climate #slowchatED

 

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Image: J. L. Comstock. A System of Natural Philosophy: Principles of Mechanics (Pratt, Woodford, and Company, 1850) 72

 

This week, during #slowchated, we will be discussing work-life balance for educators, as well as ways to stay positive in a not-always-so-positive climate. (What I mean by “climate” is not necessarily the current climate of your individual school–though I do realize that for some a negative school culture is very much a reality–but rather the societal climate/attitude towards the current state of education. Think: Policy, lawmakers, Common Core, and bad press.) What can we do to stay positive when it seems so many have a negative view of educators, or don’t understand what it means to be a teacher in this day and age? What can we do to make sure that our well-being isn’t compromised in the name of our careers? We often talk about nurturing the whole child, but how about nurturing the whole teacher?

You will notice that when I moderate, I cheat in the question department. I want to be inclusive to everyone who might join in, so I sometimes throw out questions for two or more target groups. For example, for Monday, I asked one question for educators in general and another for “edu-friends”– anyone who might be here to support educators or give his/her two cents. Of course, if educators want to answer the Q1.2 or if edu-friends want to answer the Q1.1, that is totally okay. As each day begins, I will post the question(s) for that day below. Stop by to see the updates, or jump into the chat HERE –> #SLOWCHATED.

One of the most convenient things about #slowchated is that you can join in at any time during the week. Unlike most Twitter chats, this chat is asynchronous. It is available at your leisure. It can be as intense or as relaxed as you’d like it to be.

MONDAY:

* Q1.1: Eds-> Tell me something good! In your current position, what brings you joy?

* Q1.2: Edu-Friends-> What are some positive observations you’ve made about education?

TUESDAY:

* Q2: Eds-> Tell me something good! In your current position, what brings you joy?

* Piggyback Q of the Day:  What time management strategies do you use to keep your schedule in check?

WEDNESDAY:

I’m going to take a page out of the @lit_teacher moderation handbook and do opposites today. Yesterday we talked about steps we take (or should take) to ensure work-life balance. #slowchated Today we’re going to talk about the opposite.

* Q3: What are some factors/habits that guarantee teacher burnout?

THURSDAY:

I’m cheating again with 2 questions today.

* Q4.1 Edu-Newbs: What challenges have you faced regarding work-life balance?

* Q4.2 Edu-Vets: If you were to give a piece of advice to a newb teacher about work-life balance, what would that be?

FRIDAY:Warning–> This is a LOADED QUESTION.

* Q5: How do you remain positive in a climate of edu-cynicism, edu-ugliness, & edu-enemies?

SATURDAY:

Yesterday’s line of questioning induced a bit of my inner snark. Today, let’s refocus on the positive side of education. Take a moment to reminisce about what led you to teaching. (Feel free to share those factors with us. *another sneaky bonus Q!*)

* Q6 (is not really a Q):
Tell us about something you recently witnessed IN YOUR SCHOOL that you consider a POSITIVE ED STORY!