I was reminded a couple of times this week of the power of collaboration that makes teachers part of such a special group. With the connections that Twitter provides, and the innate desires of teachers to be helpful, Twitter can really be a powerful tool.
In the first case, Neil Stephenson posted this message. His Grade 8 students had designed a survey and were looking for world-wide input. What better way to get the message out than to ask for a little assistance from Twitter? You’ll note that his original message had been retweeted 37 as of this capture. This says nothing about the number of retweets of retweets that have been made by other educators. When last checked, he claims to have over 1100 responses. You’ve got to admit; from a world-wide audience that’s a pretty impressive number that a Grade 8 class would have a challenge to garner otherwise.
Neil promises to make the data from this survey public upon its conclusion so it will be interesting to see the results. It won’t stand up to the scrutiny of statistical methods and appropriate sampling but it will give the students a substantial body of data to analyse as a result. I took the survey and can immediately think of the inquiry opportunities that this would afford students. Excel, Fathom, Tinkerplots activities immediately spring to mind for me. Neil has promised to make the data available for others so we’ll all benefit from this exercise.
The other example takes a geographical spin. Dean Groom posted this simple message.
A quick check of his blog to determine which Sydney he’s referring to reveals that his message had done quite a distance from the original Australian location to my hotel room in Toronto. I helped out by RTing it and you’ll see that the original has gone out 46 times but a Twitter research reveals much more. I know that it made it through Florida as my fellow Vikings fan kimberanna_com had passed it along. This modern day chain letter has spread like wildfire among great folks just wanting to help out. Again a Twitter search where you can “Follow Conversation” shows the scope of this activity. Since this is a little easier to participate in, I suspect there will be more responses. I think it will be interesting to see the end results plotted on Google Maps. It would also be interesting to see a connected node map on this one. Not only would it demonstrate the power of the original message, but it would show the reach of individuals along the way.
Kudos to both of these progressive educators for bringing the power of Twitter into their classrooms to show the potential to students. In both cases, it will require some work at the conclusion of the project to get some desired results but it’s all good. These are great examples of thinking outside the textbook and bringing real life experiences to the students. Way to go.
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