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.










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.













(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.






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.






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).





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






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.











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.







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:



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.

How to Submit an Assignment to Mrs. M., Digitally, Using GoodNotes or Pages

Screenshot 2015-01-08 17.13.39

Using GoodNotes:

1. When you receive an assignment via your class’s Google Drive, open it in GoodNotes. This will allow you to write directly on the document.


3. Click on the title of the document to change the name of your document to …

(+ FIRST INITIAL, if someone else has the same last name in your class period)




4. Once you’ve completed your assignment go back to the main screen in GoodNotes and click on EDIT.

5. Choose your assignment, so that it is highlighted.

6. Click on EXPORT.

7. Another prompt will appear. Click on EXPORT.

8. Many options will appear. Choose EXTERNAL APPS.

9. Choose GOOGLE DRIVE. This will launch Google Drive.

10. Google Drive will ask you “Would you like to upload this document to Drive?” Choose UPLOAD.

11. Click on the “i” (in a little circle) on the right-hand, next to the document title.

12. This will pull up the DETAILS menu. Choose the “MOVE TO” option.


14. Click on “MOVE HERE.”

15. Google Drive will prompt you with the message “Move: Document will be shared in Folder”. Choose MOVE.

Now your document should be available to both of us. Hurray!

Screenshot 2015-01-08 17.13.49

Using Pages:

1. Create the document in Pages.


3. Go back to the DOCUMENT screen to change the name of your document. Click on the title to change it to …

(+ FIRST INITIAL, if someone else has the same last name in your class period)




4. Complete the assignment.

5. Go back to the DOCUMENTS screen in Pages.

6. Click on the box with an upward pointing arrow in the top left-hand corner of the screen.


8. Select the assignment document.

9. Choose PDF.

10. Click on CHOOSE APP.

11. Choose OPEN IN DRIVE. This will launch Google Drive.

12. Google Drive will ask you “Would you like to upload this document to Drive?” Choose UPLOAD.

13. Click on the “i” (in a little circle) on the right-hand, next to the document title.

14. This will pull up the DETAILS menu. Choose the “MOVE TO” option.


16. Click on “MOVE HERE.”

17. Google Drive will prompt you with the message “Move: Document will be shared in Folder”. Choose MOVE.

Now your document should be available to both of us. Huzzah!

The MOSTLY Paperless (and Increasingly Empathetic) Classroom: A Revised Technology Goal

I have always been a tree hugger, both literally and figuratively.

This is me hugging a tree that George Washington planted at Mount Vernon.

This is me hugging a tree that George Washington planted at Mount Vernon.

Three years ago when we began our iPad initiative my technology goal was to go paperless over a three year period. Predictably hippie of me, eh? I wanted to phase out paper completely by the end of THIS school year. I have been toddler-stepping toward that goal ever since.

I deliver almost all handouts and assignments digitally through email, this blog, Twitter, and now most prominently, Google Drive. Students complete and submit most of their assignments digitally. The first year the students did so hesitantly and with raucous complaint. The second year it was about half and half. Half of them preferred to submit things digitally and half of them preferred the old-fashioned way of doing things. This year students almost exclusively hand in their papers digitally, without much comment, though we do struggle with a standardized process. And there will always be Luddites, even young ones, who just want to etch their responses into a stone and call it good, (or at the very least use a pencil and paper).

All through this process I grappled with the best way to deliver feedback to students. I struggle with feedback as it is. I have still not mastered a balance between high quality AND timely feedback. The students get one or the other for me. The closest I can get to providing both is the oral feedback process I started experimenting with back in 2013, but that still isn’t ideal.

Before I use technology in the classroom, I ask myself these questions: 1. Will it help my students learn new information that will help them in this class (and life)? 2. Will it help my students learn or strengthen a skill that I want them to have? 3. Will it serve to build or strengthen my relationship with my students and/or their parents? If I can’t answer YES to at least one of those questions, then I most likely won’t be using it in the classroom during instructional time.

So, at the beginning of this school-year, as I reflected on years one and two of my three-year technology goal of going paperless, I asked myself, Why am I going paperless? Is it going to help my students to become better readers, writers, researchers, speakers, or thinkers?

Ummmm …

Is it going to strengthen my relationship with my students and/or their parents?

Errrr …

So, why did I go with this goal in the first place?

Aside from the idea that going paperless seems like the environmentally responsible thing to do, I am big into the idea that if I ask my students to do something, I should be doing it too. I’m very much against the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, so I feel like I’m letting my students down when I insist that they submit their work digitally, but then I print off the assignment and return it with feedback written with a pen. I don’t why I feel like I’m letting them down and I have not once had a student say, “Gee Mrs. M. I was really hoping that this feedback would be written in digital ink,” so I guess I’m sort of making an assumption about what constitutes “letting my students down.”

I have taken numerous stabs at downloading every students’ writing assignment to Goodnotes and delivering painstaking feedback with my finger, a stylus, or a keyboard, and every single time I try it, I give up and print it out. Usually, by the time I break down and hit command+P, I am so flummoxed that I wait to give feedback until later when I’m in a better mood (and thereby deliver feedback much later than I intended) OR give rushed handwritten feedback that is simply not up to the standard to which I hold myself. I did successfully deliver quiz feedback via Goodnotes and Google Drive this quarter and that felt like a minor victory to me, but again, not one single student said, “Gee Mrs. M. I truly appreciated that you returned this quiz to me digitally and that you used your stylus to write your explanations for why this answer needs work or how wonderful my response was.” (Not that students are known for giving such feedback to teachers anyway. Ha!)

This is me hugging a tree  in The Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, France.

This is me hugging a tree in The Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, France.

So, am I attempting this goal for environmental reasons? (Sort of. Okay: Yes.) And, am I failing the environment if I continue to print student work and write my feedback out long-hand in ink? (Probably not.) It depends on who you ask. I read an article that said that really it’s not the paper-making process that’s environmentally problematic; it’s the fact that we humans don’t recycle enough of it. Now that my school district is recycling again (YAYZ!) I feel a little better about this. It seems that I should spend less time feeling guilty about things and more time reflecting on why I do the things I do. After all, I’m into the third year of a three-year goal and this is just now occurring to me … ??? (Did I just admit that aloud? UGH. True confessions.)

One of the most important things we do at the classroom level is give students feedback, so if my goal to become a paperless teacher is impeding this important thing …

I have decided to rethink my goal.

My new and improved revised goal is to run a mostly paperless classroom in which the teacher delivers high quality feedback in the most timely manner possible, even if that means sometimes printing stuff off and writing the feedback with a pen. My goal will be to use paperless methods where it makes sense and works well for all parties involved and offer alternatives when it doesn’t work well for someone (be it student or teacher). I will use paperless methods when it makes sense to do so and not just for the sake of going paperless.

The other good thing about this revised goal is that I’ve already met it! (Pretty tricky. I know …)  I feel that I’ve succeeded because most of my information level and activity level handouts are digitized and students are successfully navigating Google Drive, Goodnotes, Twitter, and their blogs to give and receive information. And, my lack of success in delivering digital feedback 100% of the time has given me another lesson in empathizing with the frustration students feel when they have to turn in work digitally and struggle with it. And I don’t think there’s such a thing as a teacher having too much empathy for her students.

Playing with Beowulf

This assignment was featured in an episode of “Learning World” on Euronews. Check it out! Our portion begins at the 6 min. 30 sec. mark. –> Learning World

the beastie prowls
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jason via Compfight

“Playing” and “Beowulf” don’t typically appear in close conjunction with one another. Really “playing” and English class don’t go hand in hand often enough, in my opinion. This assignment is designed to combat the perceived stuffiness associated with old texts. Through play, we can find and make meaning–even when we’re beyond the age usually affiliated with “playing”.

What is one thing the big kids like to play with? Social media! In this assignment I ask my students to celebrate and showcase the language of Beowulf (in translation) through the currently popular Vine app. In doing so, they will be zeroing in on and mastering a tiny portion of a text that can otherwise seem daunting to a reader–especially a young one–and thereby providing a stepping stone upon which they can launch into deeper understanding of this text as well as other similarly difficult ones that they will inevitably encounter in this class and beyond. What follows are the instructions I provided my students and an example Vine that a student and I created.


This assignment is designed not only to look at the text “under a microscope” for greater understanding of it, but also to celebrate the language and story of Beowulf, the oldest written English-language story in existence. For this assignment, we will use the Burton Raffel translation from our textbook.


THINK. What was the most engaging part or aspect of the story? Who was your favorite character, and why? Are there any words or lines that especially stand out to you? What were some examples of kennings and alliteration the author/translator used?

CHOOSE. Identify a line or lines from the text on which you’d like to focus.

PLAN YOUR VINE. How can you bring this line of text to life in a creative, celebratory fun manner in 6 seconds or less? Will you use a costume? an accent? props? Will you need to recruit friends to be a part of your video?

TIPS. Use the following checklist to guide your planning.

Make sure …
… you know how to pronounce all of the words in your chosen line(s).
… to speak clearly and enunciate each word, so it is easy for your audience to understand you (especially if you decide to use an accent).
… to project your voice and speak loudly enough that the camera picks up your voice (without overpowering the microphone and speakers).
… to use a costume, props or “special effects”. It will make it more fun for you and your audience.
… experiment with different ways to deliver the line(s).
… practice it BEFORE you commit it to video.

Your final product should show evidence of planning and celebration! Have fun playing with Beowulf and friends.



UPDATE: Here are some of the results from this year’s group (2013-14 semester 2)

Here are some quote choices. You are welcome to pick others, but these are some of the ones I thought would lend themselves well for Vining.

page 40

The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees and leaves …

So Hrothgar’s men lived happy in his hall/Till the monster stirred, that demon! that fiend! Grendel!

page 42

He was spawned in that slime, conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain.

The Almighty drove those demons out, and their exile was bitter, shut away from men.

The monster’s/Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws.

At daybreak, with the sun’s first light, they saw/How well he had worked …

page 43

So Grendel rules, fought with the righteous/One against many, and won …

So mankind’s enemy continued his crimes/Killing as often as he could, coming/Alone, bloodthirsty and horrible.

He never/Dared to touch King Hrothgar’s glorious Throne, protected by God–God,/whose love Grendel could not know.

page 44

Beowulf, Higlac’s/Follower and the strongest of the Geats … /Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror.

None of the wise ones regretted his going, much/As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good …

So Beowulf/Chose the mightiest men he could find, the bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen/In all

page 45

“Whose soldiers are you,/You who’ve been carried in your deep-keeled ship/Across the sea-road to this country of mine? …”

page 46

“Nor have I ever seen,/Out of all the men on earth, on greater/than has come with you …”
“… No commoner carries/Such weapons, unless his appearance, and his beauty/Are both lies …”

“You! Tell me your name,/And your father’s name; no spies go further onto Danish/Soil than you’ve already come …”

“We are Geats/Men who follow Higlac. My father was a famous soldier, known far and wide/As a leader of men.”

“A soldier should know the difference between words/And deeds, and keep that knowledge clear/In his brain.”

“I believe your words. I trust in your friendship. Go forward, weapons and armor/And all, on into Denmark.”

page 47

They marched, Beowulf and his men/ … until they could see the gables/Of Herot, covered with hammered gold/And glowing in the sun …

“Hail Hrothgar!/Higlac is my cousin and my king; the days/Of my youth have been filled with glory.”

“Now Grendel’s/Name has echoed in our land: sailors/Have brought us stories of Herot, the best of all mead-halls, deserted and useless …”

“My people have said, the wisest, most knowing/And best of them, that my duty was to go to the Danes’/Great king.”

“They have seen my strength for themselves,/Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,/Dripping with my enemies blood.”

page 48

“I swam/In the blackness of night, hunting monsters/Out of the ocean, and killing them one/By one … /Now Grendel and I are called/Together, and I’ve come”

“Grant me, then,/Lord and protector of this noble place,/A single request!”

“I have come so far,/O shelterer of warriors and your people’s loved friend …”

“…I alone and with the help of my men,/May purge all evil from this hall.”

“I have heard/Too that the monster’s scorn of men/Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears non.”

“My lord Higlac/Might think less of me if I let my sword/Go where my feet were afraid to …”

“… my hands/Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life/Against the monster.”

“God must decide/Who will be given to death’s cold grip.”

page 49

Out from the marsh, rom the foot of misty/Hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came …

He journeyed, forever joyless,/Straight to the door, then snapped it open …

By morning, the monster’s mind was hot/With the thought of food and the feasting his belly/Would soon know.

But fate, that night, intended/Grendel to gnaw the broken bones/Of his last human supper.

And Grendel’s great teeth came together/Snapping life shut.

page 50

The infamous killer fought/For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat,/Desiring nothing but escape.

That trip to Herot/Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster!

The high hall rang, its roof boards swayed,/And Danes shook with terror.

That mighty protector of men/Leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use/To anyone in Denmark.

… the sharpest and hardest iron/Could not scratch at his skin, for that sin-stained demon/Had bewitched all men’s weapons …

page 51

The monster’s hatred rose higher/But his power had gone. He twisted in pain/And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder/Snapped …

The battle was over. Beowulf/Had been granted new glory.

Grendel escaped/But wounded as he was could flee to his den … Only to die

He, who had come to them from across the sea/Bold and strong-minded, had driven affliction/Off, purged Herot clean.

… the Danes/Had been served as he’d boasted he’d serve them …

Beowulf,/A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel/Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering/Forced on Hrothgar’s helpless people/By a bloodthirsty fiend.

No Dane doubted/The victory, for the proof, hanging high/From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s/Arm, claw and shoulder and all.

Relationship Is King! (A Beginning of the Semester Sharing Activity)


Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups
Photo Credit: qthomasbower via Compfight

Building relationships is king in my teaching philosophy. It trumps content every day of the week. If a student doesn’t trust you, it is very hard for them to learn (what you want them to learn) from your class.

That is why when we come back from break, whether a class is semester-long with all new students, or year-long with returning students, I like to focus on building new relationships or strengthening existing ones.

Yesterday was a cold day. In other words, we got the day off because it was so cold–so like a snow day, without snow, and probably colder than the average snow day. I spent the day catching up on housework (ugh) and reading articles that people from my PLN posted (yay!). One of the things I stumbled upon was this NPR article: These Are A Few Of Your Favorite Things. After I read it, I knew that I wanted to do this as an opening activity with all of my students. Good thing school was called off yesterday or this might not have happened.

I’m sharing the article with them today through my Twitter feed. My requirements for the assignment are as follows.


  1. Read this NPR article: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.
  2. Choose 5-10 items to photograph.
  3. Arrange them, artfully. (See the article for examples.)
  4. Photograph them with your iPad.
  5. Write a brief description of each item and why you selected it.
  6. If you want to, tweet a copy of the photo, using our class hashtag: World Lit = #phsWORlit; Contemp Lit = #phsCONlit; Forensics II = #phs4N6; Drama = #phsDRAMA; A.P. English Lit and Comp = #phsAPeng.
  7. Submit your photo and writing to our shared Google Drive folder.

As usual, I will be participating in this assignment as well. If I am asking my students to expose personal facts about themselves, I must do the same. After all, relationships are for taking, but the giving is the most important part.

When I have completed the assignment, I will post my photo and writing here. If my students give me permission, I will post some of their photos and writing here too. Stay tuned.


UPDATE: Here are the results of the assignment:

#phsWORlit #phsCONlit #phsAPeng Favorite Things Assignment–> Desk: One of my favorite places to be is school where so much learning takes place, so I chose a desk as a backdrop. Top Hat and Rabbit Ears: As a drama teacher, I appreciate what a simple bit of costuming can do for an actor or even a non-actor. Modge Podge: In my (very limited spare time) I like to dabble in art–specifically mixed media art and one of my main ingredients is Modge Podge. Hagrid Figurine: I am a Harry Potter nerd. Literature Anthology: Reading books is one of my favorite things to do and I can’t pick just one favorite, so I chose this anthology since it is full of a variety of stories and poetry. Note Card: My Fall Play cast gave this to me in a bouquet of flowers after our show wrapped this year. My students are very important to me. Skull: The image of a skull represents many things to me: theater, the fragility of life, decomposition and a return to the Earth. Pencil: I love to write and sketch with a pencil. Ticonderogas are the best. Photo: These are my three favorite people -> my husband and my two daughters.

(Vine + Vimeo) X (Macbeth + Make-believe) X (Costumes + Cadence) = Engaging Excercise

Shakespeare’s work is a tricky thing to teach to high school students. The main barrier is the difficult language. If you can get them past that, or used to that, or to understand that, or to accept that–you’ve made quite an accomplishment.

When I was in high school, Shakespeare really wasn’t even on my radar (for the aforementioned reasons paired with my inherently distracted nature). In college, I TRIED to understand Shakespeare and had moments of clarity, but still … not much sank in for me. In my younger years of teaching *I* didn’t even *LIKE* Shakespeare’s work, which made it really hard to teach effectively. After nearly a decade and a half of teaching Shakespeare’s plays (Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth) I have grown to LOVE his work — FOR the LANGUAGE, no less (!!!), for the genius characterization, for the uncanny (and timeless) portrayal of human nature and universal themes, and for its amazing relevance TODAY. Right here. Right now.

But the language …

*whiny voice*

… it’s sooooooo harrrrrd.

We make baby steps. If you can get the kids to playyyy with the language, they begin to build confidence in it. If you can show them that it–STILL, to this very day, after 14 years of teaching, two college degrees and the purchase of your very own bust of Shakespeare, YOU have trouble with it sometimes, YOU have to look up the meaning of a word or stare blankly into the abyss sometimes, or ponder the word order of a sentence sometimes–they feel less fear towards it. If you give them access to silly wigs and costumes and beg them to use zany accents (relevant OR irrelevant OR reverent OR irreverent to the original play itself) they can have fun (even just a little … they MIGHT even admit to said fun–GASP!) with the universality of it all.

Very recently, I was turned on to an app called Vine, which is a simple iPhone video capturing service (which links and embeds nicely with Twitter) that also is compatible with the iPad. It features a “hold and shoot” style video camera that maxes out at seven seconds, which (obviously) limits what you can fit into a clip. When you are trying to build students’ confidence in Shakespeare, this is a welcome limitation. If you ask a student who is hesitant to read Shakespeare to make a five-minute video portraying an scene, that might overwhelm him or her. Methinks pretty much anyone can handle 7 seconds of Shakespeare. The “hold and shoot” feature also allows for easy “special effects”. It’s hard to explain, but you will see what I mean when I show you a handful of example videos.

The assignment was as follows.


1. Pick your favorite character from Macbeth thus far. (We had read through Act III at the time of the assignment.)

2. Pick your favorite line that character has delivered thus far.

3. Think of how that character would deliver that line.

4. Try to “become” that character. (Costumes were available in the classroom. I am the drama teacher, after all.)

5. Using Vine, have a classmate capture you delivering that line.

6. Tweet me your vine, including my Twitter handle (@morgetron), the class hashtag (#phsWORlit), the character you chose, and let everyone know it’s from Macbeth.  If you don’t tweet, send me the video via email and I will tweet it on your behalf. If you don’t want your video posted on the web, say so in your email. (I HAVE to respect my students’ desires to stay off the web and some parents are not crazy about their kids online either, which is understandable.)

Now those were the instructions I gave, but, as most plans do, these plans changed, particularly when we got to numbers 5 and 6.  Number 5 became an issue for students who either didn’t want to or couldn’t download another app on their machine for whatever reason or students. Vine crashed on 2 of the 23 students involved during the process. This issue was easily solved by reverting to the built-in iPad camera and then students just emailed me their videos. The only challenge with that was that the students had to make sure that they remained under 7 seconds.

Once students realized that in order to tweet me their vine link, their video would be showing up in their own Twitter feeds, some were reluctant to tweet. This is where we hit the first snag with number 6. One student even said, “If I send this to you, YOU can post it, but I don’t want to post it to my followers.” In response, I offered the email option to ALL students, even Vine users. (If you allow Vine access to your photos, it will store all of your Vine videos in your iPad’s camera roll.) A secondary snag for number 6 came into play when I realized I could no longer embed the students’ videos into a tweet as a vine, so I had to upload the emailed vines to another video sharing service. (It would be nice if Vine added an email option.) I chose Vimeo.

Once the videos processed, I tweeted the links to them, tagging each tweet with our classroom hashtag. (This makes it easier when I send information to parents who want to see what’s going on in class.) The problem with this, I found out after I had posted a handful of tweets with Vimeo links is that even though they appear to embed within the tweet, unless you are a paid Vimeo Plus member, they do not embed. This is annoying because, as I previously mentioned, they APPEARED to embed and they showed up on my profile with a thumbnail view of each video, but when one clicks on the tweet itself, a message appears stating, “Sorry. The creator of this video has not given you permission to embed it on this domain. This is a Vimeo Plus feature.” If I had known this prior to going through the process of uploading a slew of videos to Vimeo, I would’ve gone the Youtube route. LESSON LEARNED.  This was only a minor annoyance though. People who find themselves staring at my tweets promoting my students’ work can still click on the link itself and will be redirected to the Vimeo site where they can watch the video hassle-free. No bigs.

Since Vine was a new app to most of the students, some of our time was spent exploring Vine’s offerings, which includes looking through the videos housed in Vine’s collection. (It is a video sharing service, so there are countless videos available for perusal. Some redirecting was necessary. The “hold and shoot” feature is different than the usual “click and record” function of the iPad camera, so this took some getting used to as well.  To some, this might feel like time wasted, but I view it as “frontloading”. What I mean by that is, it’s time spent wearing the newness off the app in addition to learning how to use it.  In the long run, it’ll actually save us time because I won’t have to deal with (as much) covert video-watching, or (as much) explanation of the app’s features.

The resulting videos were overall fun and demonstrated a playful attitude towards Shakespeare’s difficult language. What follows are a couple of examples.

This one is posted on Vine, while the other ones are posted on Vimeo.

Kyle as Multiple Witches from Jodie Morgenson on Vimeo.

Michelle as a Weird Sister from Macbeth from Jodie Morgenson on Vimeo.

Payton as Macduff AND Lady Macbeth from Jodie Morgenson on Vimeo.

Emily as Lady Macbeth from Jodie Morgenson on Vimeo.


Good learning is good learning.

This blog was originally concocted in an effort to document my experience as a teacher in the first year of a 1:1 iPad school. I certainly haven’t blogged as often as I originally intended, but I’ve noticed that most of my posts are not centered around iPads at all. My first post set that up though –> I wasn’t expecting our iPads to transform our school into some sort of megaplex of learning (anymore than it already is), but I was hopeful at the chance for all of my students to have equal access (or closer to equal access) to resources that were, at best spotty, in previous years. Closing that gap between HAVE and HAVE NOTS was what I appreciated most about the prospect of going 1:1. I believe our 1:1 initiative has done just that.

However, what this blog turned out to be more than anything was a place to share things that work for me (so that others may benefit) and to promote my students’ work and experience. Some of these things, work, and experiences involve iPads as a “star,” but most do not. In other words, though having iPads at our fingertips has been (mostly) wonderful, it hasn’t changed what I do in the classroom very much. It’s given me different ways to do it, but I’m still striving for the same outcomes, rolling with the same punches, and having similar successes and failures that I’ve had in years past.

When it comes down to it, most teachers I know have a knack for finding what works for their individual students regardless of the resources provided to them. I am grateful that my job and my students lives are easier because of the incredible educational instruments we as a school community have close at hand every day, but bottom line –> good teaching is good teaching AND, more importantly good learning is good learning. Both can transcend the devices we have at our disposal.


Want to make a kid’s day? Comment on his or her blog post. #comments4kids

A while back, William Chamberlain, a teacher from Noel, MO started the #comments4kids backchannel, which was devised for students and their teachers to promote their blog posts and garner eyeballs! (He wrote a blog post about it back in 2009 when he first planted the seed.) We’ve been using that hashtag for a couple of weeks now and it’s working! I’m glad I asked William about this concept because he pointed me in the direction of the aforementioned blog post and he told me about this resource –> COMMENTS4KIDS, which has many other resources for teachers/students seeking comments for student blogs. Also, I didn’t know that WEDNESDAY is the official #comments4kids day on Twitter, until I read his post. I’ve been using it indiscriminately … on all sorts of days of the week … and probably will continue to do so, because it seems that folks do check that backchannel on other days too because … like I said: It’s been working! (My Twitter followers have been helping too. THANKS DOOOoooOOooOods!)

Want to make a kid’s day? Comment on his or her blog post. If you have the time AND the *positive* energy to share, please consider visiting one of the following blogs to post some constructive comments of either encouragement or dialogue extension for my students.

Keaton D. * The love of my life, softball *
“You’ve been gripping the ball this whole time.. To find out it was the other way around.”

Danny C. * contemporary literature blog *
“Sponsored by Crosgrove Industries… Do NOT look us up”

Xiola K. * Passion Fashion Blog *
“fashion you can use”

Destiney H. * Tattoo Blog *
“all about tattoos”

Shelby T. * Seeing Red *
“A young redheaded woman’s view on heated topics and government”

Kody S. * Kody’s Food Blog*
“food, food, and more food”

Truman S. * Aliens *
“What? Who? Where? Why?: Aliens”

Camden P. * Basketball Blog *
“blog about all levels of basketball”

Nicole C. * Don’t worry. Be happy. *
“everything that makes me happy”

Jessica B. * Bitter Blonde *
“my pet peeves”

Megan I. * Pinterest Tutorials *
“seeing which/how Pinterest tutorials work”

Kylie M. * Important Problems *
“anything that I feel is important to discuss”

James E. * Farming *
“the farming life”


My Students Have Passion!

NOTE: If you just want to get to my students’ blogs, scroll down. The links follow my rambling!

My students have been blogging now for a couple of weeks and I’m happy to say, I have a PASSIONATE bunch! We’ve been calling our blogs “passion blogs” because they are fueled by the students’ direct interests. In other words, THEY chose their topics–rather than the usual–*teacher gives writing prompt/topic + students regurgitate what they think I want to hear* formula. By the end of the school year (which is coming up quickly for ALL of us, but ESPECIALLY for SENIORS!) they should all have a minimum of 10 entries.

So far, of those posts I’ve read, I have been blown away by the variety of interests AND the depth of passion being displayed. Below I will post links to most of the students’ blogs. Some of the students have opted to leave theirs off the list. Our students are hungry for feedback, so the more eyes I can provide them, the better! If you have time to comment on some or all of these blogs, I invite you to do so.

These blogs do a few things for the students. Blogs give students 1. vital, low-pressure writing practice (Blogs don’t have to be perfect, though I do encourage them to return to edit and revise each post.) 2. a place to establish a POSITIVE online identity.  3. a place to showcase their immense knowledge about a topic (or topics) about which they care! 4. a REAL LIVE audience. (In a traditional English class, the paper comes in to the teacher and she’s the only person who sees it. A blog is open to a larger audience.)

What follows are the links to all of the student blogs AND a brief description of what each one is about (as per the students’ own words). Again, I invited and encourage you to post some comments.  They will appreciate the feedback and you will help them to realize the power of having an audience.

Nicole C. * Don’t worry. Be happy. *
“everything that makes me happy”

Destiney H. * Tattoo Blog *
“all about tattoos”

Megan I. * Pinterest Tutorials *
“seeing which/how Pinterest tutorials work”

Xiola K. * Passion Fashion Blog *
“fashion you can use”

Shelby T. * Seeing Red *
“A young redheaded woman’s view on heated topics and government”

Kylie M. * Important Problems *
“anything that I feel is important to discuss”

Jessica B. * Bitter Blonde *
“my pet peeves”

Truman S. * Aliens *
“What? Who? Where? Why?: Aliens”

Camden P. * Basketball Blog *
“blog about all levels of basketball”

James E. * Farming *
“the farming life”

Keaton D. * The love of my life, softball *
“You’ve been gripping the ball this whole time.. To find out it was the other way around.”


Zite in the Contemporary Literature and Writing Classroom

With as fast as the definition of “literature” is evolving and expanding, I have been looking for ways to inject relevant, current high interest texts into my Contemporary Literature and Writing classroom. Here is an assignment I’ve tried once and now tweaked (for a second go-around) for this class. I am going to model this for them tomorrow and then each student will have his or her chance to present an article once before the end of third quarter and second time during fourth quarter. We are using, not only Zite for this assignment, but also either Twitter (which MOST students have) or email (for those who have not yet made the TweetLeap). Last semester, I used this assignment, but made the silly mistake of NOT modeling what I wanted to see. This time around will be different. Tomorrow, my students will see me presenting exactly what I expect of them (or at least one variation of it).  This assignment works well in an ELA classroom, but I could see it working in ANY classroom (4th grade and up) really because Zite is so customizable and a teacher could give students a specific category in which to search to narrow the focus to the subject matter being studied.  Feel free to use this assignment in your classroom, with or without attribution. If you use it though, let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear some feedback on how to make it better.



1.  Read through some articles in your areas of interest on Zite.

2.  Select an article that you find interesting, relevant, and timely.

3.  On the day of your presentation, TWEET a link to your article ~ (You can do this directly through Zite, if you connect your Zite account to your Twitter account, or you can copy/paste the URL into a tweet or a URL shortener like ~ OR you can send the link via EMAIL, if you are not a Twitter user. (If you use the email option, just REPLY TO ALL to an email I sent out to the class, to ensure everyone in the class gets the link).

4.  When you present the article to the class, we will project the article from your iPad onto the screen in my room, so make sure you have your iPad here AND charged.  If you don’t, this will result in a deduction of your grade and you will have to reschedule your presentation, which will throw off the entire class’s schedule. Be courteous, and be prepared.

5.  During your presentation you MUST do the following:

A. SUMMARIZE the article. GIve us a nutshell summary of what this article is about (since most of us will not have read the article.

B. EXPLAIN why it is IMPORTANT and RELEVANT enough to share with the class.

C. PROVIDE your OPINION on the subject matter. (For example, if it is problem, provide a solution or talk about the root causes of the problem. If it is a human interest story, discuss why you believe it is so appealing. If it is about a scientific discovery, discuss how you believe this may change how we currently do things. These are just a few things you could discuss during this portion of your presentation.)

D. BE PREPARED for QUESTIONS from Mrs. M. and your peers. Feel free to ask your peers and Mrs. Morgenson their opinions as well, to encourage discussion.

When you are an audience member, please think of questions to ask the presenter.  Everyone should participate in this.  Some article shares may even result in a roundtable-style discussion. Prepare to respond in writing to each person’s article as well either via Twitter or email.