Plan Now for a Year of Social Success


Welcome back to school in Ontario.  Today’s the big day for most.  I decided to drag out this old “Post from the Past”.  It goes back to the start of the school year in 2012.  I thought that it was good advice then and I am equally as convinced that it’s just as good or better advice today.  I’m not sure that I would change it much if I was writing it today.  One of the things that comes to mind might be to include a class Instagram account in addition to the Twitter account.

It’s funny; having written this so long ago – I can actually put faces and names to the social media activities described in the post.  Can you?

Are you one of them?  If so, why not take a moment and share in the comments exactly what it means to you and how you do it.


Labour Day!

The last day before getting back at it. Flash forward 9 months and the school year will be just about over but you’ll be scrambling for content for the yearbook and/or end of the year assembly. A little planning now could make that so easy and social media is the answer.

All that is will take is a Twitter account and a blog. Done properly, all the pieces will just fall into place.

First Step – Grab that Hashtag
Hashtags are Twitter’s way to tag or follow a conversation. Before your students even cross the threshold into your classroom, decide on your class’ hashtag. #MySchoolG5R3 or whatever will uniquely identify your classroom. This is the basis for retrieving all the data that you’ll create. (Do a quick search for your proposed hashtag now, before using it, to make sure that it’s not in use by someone else.)

At any point in the future, a simple Twitter search http://search.twitter.com where you enter your hashtag will bring back all of your content. Share the search with your students, with their parents, with your school, with your principal, with anyone who might have a vested interest in your classroom.

Second Step – Use that Hashtag
But, where’s the content? This is typically the stumbling block for many well-intentioned plans. It takes time to come up with content. Suggestion – crowd source it with your students. They’ve been in class all day long – at the end of the day, do a little wrap up before they head home. It might be questions like:

  • What was the neatest thing we did today?
  • Who was our classroom guest today?
  • What are we excited about for tomorrow?
  • What books did we read today?
  • ….

Any of a myriad of questions that elicit any thoughts on the day will do! Just as long as they can be summarized in 140 characters or less. Then, post it to Twitter. It could be from you or the class scribe for the day or the tech helpers or …

But the key is to make it positive and upbeat. In YOUR classroom, of course, it will be the best of the positive and upbeat!

This daily positive message will make it home before your students.

Third Step – Blog it!
If you’re not a daily blogger, that’s OK. How about being a weekly blogger? Friday night, Saturday morning – create a blog post. Don’t worry about writer’s block. You’ve got at least five pieces of inspiration already. Just do the Twitter search for your classroom hashtag, copy the results, and paste them into a blog post. It’s a leisurely reflective 10-15 minutes to expand on your student crowd sourced raw material. Post it and the week is in the bag. Do you have any pictures or a video to support the Twitter messages? Stick them into the blog post and they won’t get lost or crumpled like they might in the file folder in the top draw of the filing cabinet.

Fourth Step – You’re a Genius
There are always times you need good news stories and you’ve got them all in one spot!

Parent conferencing? You can lead it; students can lead it; Twitter can lead it; your Blog can lead it.

End of the year celebrations? Piece of cake. You’ve been celebrating and reflecting on the great things that happened all year-long. There’s no need for deep memory searching or looking for that elusive piece of information. It’s all there in your blog! Pull the pieces together and you’re good to go.

A year’s worth of successes is a good thing. Crowd sourcing them from grass-roots 140 characters at a time leverages the technology and makes a big task easy.

And, next summer when you look back over everything – you’ll be fully justified in saying “That was quite a year”.

All the best to my teacher readers for a successful 2012-2013 school year.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

Thinking about technology investments


From the New York Post this morning, check out this story “A Lot Changes in Tech Over Four Years and 1,000 Blog Posts“.

It got me thinking about things.

According to the dashboard for this blog, I’ve made 4,255 posts.  The very first one goes back to January 8, 2008 and was titled “Blogging on First Class“.  It was an encouragement for people to look at FirstClass’ new blogging platform.

The post was actually the second written for this blog – the first one was “I hope this works” and was written just to test WordPress to see if it would do the trick.  While I really hoped that people would use FirstClass for blogging, I needed to test out WordPress.  It turned out to be a better blogging platform.  More importantly, the writing of my first few posts was quite funny.  It was almost infantile which I guess describes my blogging efforts back then.

Anyway, a lot has changed over the course of four years as noted in Bilton’s blog post.  He notes that the iPad wasn’t around then.  Yet, it’s so popular and universally present these days.

It really is the change over the course of four years that is of concern to me.  Four years ago, I bought a computer and, with fingers crossed, assured my wife that this is the last computer I’ll ever need.  It had an i7 processor with 8 cores, 4MB of RAM and a fairly substantial hard drive.  Admittedly, it can run just about anything that I want.  It was, as promised, a laptop that’s a desktop replacement and that’s basically where it’s used today.  Dual booting, I can run Windows 7 and Ubuntu and if you’ve been reading, it’s typically running Ubuntu.

Indeed a lot has changed in four years.  I think of the power and the storage on the machine and it’s a sad commentary that they really aren’t as important to my regular use these days as it was four years ago.

Four years ago, I needed a computer and software to do the word processing and spreadsheet documents (among other things) that I had on a regular basis.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I opened LibreOffice to do any such work.  In fact, as I type this blog entry, I’ve got a notification that there’s an upgrade to the LibreOffice program.  Four years ago, I would rush to get the upgrade.  Now, I use my Google Apps on the web to handle these things.  Google takes care of the upgrades for me.

Post Christmas, every store that I ever bought anything online is pummeling my mailbox with notifications of great bargains and deals.  I look and don’t feel the need to even wish and dream.  After all, I spend my days in a browser.  As I write this, I’m in one tab with a bunch of others open.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with any plausible reason to go computer shopping tomorrow.

In fact, the more I try to think this through, do I really need something as powerful (expensive) for the future?

How about schools?

I know many school districts are experimenting with Chromebooks and some with Surfaces.  From where I’m sitting, and for my particular use, it seems like a very smart (and affordable) solution.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The frustrating thing about my Friday post  is boiling down the great writing that’s happening with Ontario Edubloggers into three or four of the best articles!  I did and these really caught my interest.

Sign Up For The January Blogging Community Session Now!

Blogging is good; building a community based on that blogging is even better.  Check out this global opportunity from Kristen Wideen’s blog.

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WEBTOOLS: NO REGISTRATION NEEDED FOR STUDENTS

Nathan Hall has curated a list of “no registration” resources for student use.  There are two advantages to this – one is respect for student privacy and the other is the ability to just use the tool rather than worrying about registration, logging on, passwords, etc.

We’ve got to get him to add Brian Aspinall’s work to this list!

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Three Steps to Better Leadership

I love this post.  It takes a very reflective educator and leader to do some reflection and make admissions as well as a “next steps” plan online.  Sue Dunlop shares what she considers three steps to becoming a better leader.  It’s hard to argue with any of her thoughts but I think we can ALL benefit right now from her third step.

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“WHY WOULD I WANT TO LEARN FROM SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO LEARN FROM ME?”

This is the million dollar question for education.  Read Donna Fry’s thoughts about the topic.  Life was so much easier when we just plain acknowledged that teachers were the holders of all information and students arrives to get their share of it!

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Use of Language

This is a little different.  I’m going to highlight a response in one of my posts.

Brandon

Brandon Grasley had a very thoughtful reply to a post that I had about language.  On the surface, his recommendations make a great deal of sense.  Spot and an error?  Just go back and fix it.  If you look further back in my blog this week, I did an analytic that included how many people read this blog.  The number that have opted to receive it via email far outweigh those who visit online.  Plus there’s the RSS readers and reader surfaces like Flipboard.  These may get their copy from the original post so even if I go through and fix any mistake that I find, those who are readers of the blog not using the blog, will have the original copy which has the errors!  Maybe there should be a warning that if you subscribe by email that you may get errors!

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Please check out these blogs in their entirety.  There’s some great reading and room for reflection there.

As always, my complete collection of Ontario Edublogs is located here.  Check them all out!  The list continues to grow and, if you’re in Ontario Education and not listed, add yourself to the form and you will be.

Tips for Bloggers to Remember


My Sunday morning reading included the article “Ten Things Every Blogger Should Remember“.  If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know that I’m a sucker for posts like this!  I find the perspectives very helpful as I try to get my head wrapped around my own blogging.

I also like to think that the tips and exercises are valuable for those who would have students blogging in their classroom.  It’s one thing to provide an assessment (and I’ve seen a great deal of them that I don’t particularly agree with) but it’s quite another for students to sit back and reflect on their own efforts.  The fact that it might be criteria not teacher generated lends an additional level of credibility.  Have the students read the original post with its criteria and then even write their own blog post analysing their own efforts.

So, I’m going to take a look at the 10 tips from this post and see how I think I stack up.  Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong in the comments.

1) You will probably not become famous from this project

This is absolutely true.  I’m reminded of the television commercial talking about US college football players that talks about how so many of them will go on to be professionals in a sport other than football.  The same applies here; but it should never deter you from your blogging efforts.

2) The majority of your readers will be other bloggers

I never thought about this.  I know that the bulk of people who offer replies are bloggers and for that I’m appreciative.  It does beg a question though – what is a blogger?  Do micro-bloggers count?  Does it really matter?

3) Nobody will ever read every word on your blog

There are days when @SheilaSpeaking or @NobleKnits2 will send me a DM with a typo or missing/extra word in a post.  I guess not even I read every word!  I think this reinforces the writing tips that I learned in high school – start with a good title; bring the reader in with an interesting first paragraph; close with a good summary.

4) Trolls will come

There is a big dark side of the blogging web.  Thankfully, Akismet keeps most of them from public view.  I think there’s about 100 of messages that are awaiting my attention.  I do find that most of the replies that are legitimate are polite and helpful.

5) It does take work to make the blog worth your time

I’ll agree that it does take effort.  I’m not at the point where I consider it work though.  If I did, I think I would pack it in.  I don’t make any money from this blog (although I’m open to offers…) so I don’t set a time to blog.  It just happens when I feel the urge.

6) You get what you give

There’s a great deal of truth to that.  While I read daily and try to reply, I’ve scheduled Fridays as a concerted time to give back to the great Ontario Edubloggers who take the time to share their thoughts.

7) Make your blog as much about the content as it is about the person writing the content

I agree totally.  If you want to know about me, you’re further off being friends with me on Facebook.  My blog entries  here are about my thoughts and opinions.

8) Remain consistent

I like to think I’m consistently random in topic but I do try to schedule a little something at 5am every day.  That lets me write any time I have the opportunity.  That is one of the concerns that I have about blogging in education.  Unless they develop a passion, will students only blog during class when required to?

9) Don’t rely on words alone

This can be difficult at times.  Sometimes, there’s just no image or video that’s appropriate.

10) Be yourself

Yes.  Mistakes and all, this is me.  You won’t confuse this blog with something really academic.  It’s just my thoughts and opinions on whatever the topic de jour is.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It was another wonderful week of reading the great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here is a sampling of the great articles that appeared there this week.

Restarting the Blog Thing

First of all…welcome back…@peachyteachy

As a result of some discussion on Twitter about the value of blogging as a professional endeavour for educators, she’s started to kickstart her own blog.

The message behind her first post was about needing to get started again and to use it in conjunction with her Masters’ studies.  That sounds like a good solution to me.  Part of the Twitter discussion surrounded finding the time to blog.  That’s a challenge for every blogger.  Where do you find the time?  There really are only so many hours in the day.  I read of people who purposely set aside a period of time to blog.  That might work for some but it doesn’t work for me.  I have to have the inspiration and so I’ll blog at night or in the morning or I may be waiting in line somewhere and dictate ideas into my phone for later assembly.

I did reply to this first post and I do have problems periodically with Blogger.  I’ll start the reply and then when I go to save, it will require that I’m logged in to WordPress in order to save the reply.  So, I flip to another tab and log in, return and wham.  The comment is gone.  I’ve now got into the habit of selecting and copying the content before logging in so that I can paste it when it goes away.  Now, if I could only remember to log in before replying…

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Can We Stop Longing for the Good Old Days?

This is the post that I think that many educators would have like to have written.  I know that I sure did.

I might have called mine “Things Were Better Before Sliced Bread”.  It’s a very personal response by Tina Zita about an article in the Globe and Mail about kids and learning.  Tina describes what her modern classroom looks like and it makes sense to me.  But, in football terms, there seems to be a great deal of piling on lately whacking students, teachers, and education.  After all, we all went to school when it was so much better.  We respected our elders.  We were quite and faithfully copied everything from the blackboard to our Scribblers.  We never cheated.  There was no need for computers – we could recite the results from the 10×10 multiplication tables without hesitation.

And, if you believe that…

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Use of Twitter as a Presentation Tool

Marshall McLuhan would be proud of Terry Whitmell’s post.

At the Peel DSB’s Leadership Launch, Alec Couros presented to a group of educators.  But, it wasn’t his presentation that caught her attention.

It’s interesting that the presentation technique was the message that she blogged about!

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Digital Citizenship “Pathway”

It’s nice to see a CIO working on a plan that includes all learners within a school district.  Recently, Mark Carbone shared an infographic illustrating the Waterloo Region District School Board’s framework.

You’ll have to visit his site to see the entire infographic.

Nicely done.  I can see the influence of many of my friends involved in libraries and technology at the Waterloo Board.  Catching up with them at #ECOO13 will be a highlight and I’m sure that there’s a great story behind this graphic.  I look forward to hearing it.

Thank you so much to these bloggers for sharing their current thinking.  Please follow the links above to read and reply to their original posts.  They’ll appreciate it; you’ll be wiser; and all will be well in the blogging world.

Check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  There are so many K-12 Teacher blogs there that I just know I’m going to have to do another division of tabs so that the screen is more manageable.  As I seem to be saying a lot, this is a nice problem to have to solve.