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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A Tale of Two Hashtags


If you’re going to a conference, and want to connect with the great people there, you can’t beat the informal gatherings that typically involve coffee.  During the conference, I think it’s also important to share your learning and insights with others.  Some folks just can’t attend for whatever reason and yet still are interested in knowing what’s happening.  They just don’t get the coffee.

To the plate comes Twitter.  In short bursts, people offsight can learn vicariously and people onsight can seek out and look for people to meet for that conversation and coffee.  To focus the conversation, the Twitter hashtag makes tracking the conference specific conversations.  As I mentioned earlier, my current favourite tool for doing this is tagboard.

As conference co-chair for ECOO 2013, I always have a tab open to keep an eye on the official hashtag #ecoo13.  A quick scan lets you know who’s interested in the conference and who’s doing the Twittering about it.  Like a good movie, the use of the hashtag in advance of the conference gives a preview of the great stuff to come.

But, before I head off to Niagara Falls, there’s another of my favourite conferences to attend.  MACUL brings together about 4000 educators from Michigan and beyond.  A look at a tagboard for @macul13 gives an idea.

We also live in a world of visuals and the infographic is another tool to visualize what’s happening.  Visual.ly provides a number of tools to easily create your own infographic.  So, I thought – what’s happening with the MACUL hashtag?

So, now I know!  What’s happening with #ecoo13?  We’re still months before the conference but there’s already some chatter happening.

Stay tuned for details!  Got your own hashtag that you’d like to visualize?  Do it here.

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Self-Analysis of Twitter Etiquette


I read this post from Malhar Bahai “12 Most Basic Twitter Etiquette Tips” and found it really hit the mark.  Just sharing it was too simple so I decided to use it as a checkup for myself.  Here are my thoughts…

1. Don’t be an Egg Head

Got it!  I absolutely agree.  Personally, I generally won’t follow someone who hasn’t taken the time to change the default avatar.  Mine was from a bigger picture taken by Andy Forgrave at an OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Event.  I just cropped out the person I was helping at the time!  

Related to that, I do think twice before following someone with a cartoon avatar.  I really want to follow serious people and I think that using a real picture shows that they’re ready for transparency from the get-go.

2. Have a bio

Got it!  I really like RebelMouse for what else it offers.  While Twitter shares what you’re doing NOW, RebelMouse shares what you’ve done recently…automatically.

3. Short username

I’ve been dougpete wherever possible since the days of ENOREO and they created user names with first four, first four.  It’s me virtually everywhere except someone snagged the Gmail account before I could.

4. Tweet less than 140

I don’t conscientiously think about this until I go to reTweet someone else’s message and I realize that I’ve got to shorten it to fit.  This is good advice.

5. DM only if necessary

Got it!  I also notice that DMs don’t always get addressed by the recipient.  I think most of us are just accustomed to doing things out in the open.  I’m bad at finding and replying to them myself.

6. High volume warning

D’oh!  I don’t think I’ve ever done that.  It’s probably good advice.

7. Use # tags appropriately

I tend to use Hashtags when I’m actually at an event.  Otherwise, not so much.  I agree with the sentiment that including a string of hashtags is something to be avoided.

8. Engage — Twitter is not a monologue

I try to do that.  I wish that I had time to do more.  There are so many good people and so many good things to talk about.

9. Share/promote others

I honestly try my best to do that.  I think that’s the best way to engage people because everyone likes hearing good things about themselves.  When the urge to do otherwise hits, I just try to bite my tongue and move on.

10. Respond to others in a timely manner

Got it!  I try to do that.  Like most people these days, I have a Twitter client on my phone and try to get back to people as soon as I can.  I feel badly if I’m in the middle of working on a program or something and flip over to see that there’s a conversation that I should be in and I’m missing out.

11. Mind your manners, be gentle

Got it!  I remember hearing or reading this once.  “Never miss a chance to make a good first impression”.   I think it’s important to remember that, even if you’re having a conversation with someone that you know well, you just might be spotted by someone new for the first time.  What will they think?  We tell students to proofread and think before hitting send – it’s good advice for us too.

12. Thank often

I definitely don’t do this enough.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to those of you who enrich my time online.  Your thoughts and teachings are so appreciated.

How did I do?  Why not try the twelve tips on yourself?  How do YOU fare?

Social Stories


This is exciting news for those who are looking for a way of incorporating literacy into their English or Language or ELL courses.  Or History.  Or Drama.  Or…

Twitter has announced the “Twitter Fiction Festival“.  Ideas were submitted and the Festival will run over 5 days at the end of November.  You’ll follow the hashtag #twitterfiction to get involved.

Twitter is a frontier for creative experimentation, and we want to invite authors and creative storytellers around the world to push the bounds of what’s possible with Twitter content.

The platform is incredibly powerful.  One of my favourite all time activities in this format was the Titanic Twitter Reenactment.  I was riveted to the feed – it would be the closest that I would get to being there.  Of course, I saw the movie but that is a medium for our times.  Imagine the experience with just with the messages (or twitter messages).  That’s reality.  It also honours the mind.

I was so impressed that I wanted to keep it for future reference.  I’ve used it in presentations and will share the link with you.

Of course, there are more ideas along the same line.

One of the ideas that absolutely proved the application to the classroom was Danika Barker‘s experiment taking Shakespeare to Twitter.  Talk about a way to engage the texting generation.

 

This gathered her some media coverage as well.  The Ontario College of Teachers featured her efforts in this story.  The event was also a big-time story in the London Free Press.  Sadly, when I tried to retrieve the link, it failed from the lfpress site.  However, Google’s cached version of the story is available here.

Danika has done this a number of times and keeps Storifys of them all.  And why not?  The results are <= 140 characters but the thoughts, reading, and research from the classroom is very evident.  As a student, you wouldn’t want to get caught up in the middle of a Twitter stream not knowing what was going on.

The concept is very powerful and extremely engaging.  Make sure that you give the Twitter Fiction Festival a look.  You might just be inspired to join in or create a project of your own.

Plan Now for a Year of Social Success


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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The Value of Hashtags


You’ve seen them and you’ve probably used them.  On Twitter, they are usually cryptic codes that appear in messages following the # sign.  Hashtags allow you to follow a conversation stream.  You just search for that hashtag and watch the results come in!  The value is that you are not limitd to messages from just folks that you follow.  You get the messages that anyone on the system has sent using that hashtag.

Often, you’ll see them used when you’re at a conference and it’s a method for people to share their learning with others.  Because it’s coming from Twitter, there’s little delay and they’re posted as they happen.  It’s like a continuous stream of collective thought as those involved dig in.

Last night featured the biggest sporting event in Canada.  The Grey Cup featured a rematch of the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  If you weren’t fortunate enough to go to Edmonton, you might go to a local meeting place to watch the game.  There, you can follow the game with friends or just plain strangers.  Or, like me, you could settle in the rec room and enjoy the game there.  It would be nice to enjoy that with family but they all bailed on me – I guess not everyone enjoys football.  That I don’t understand.

So, I settled in and have decided to take a look at online resources.  Last year, a few friends and I had chatted back and forth during the game and that was fun.  But, this year, I was immediately attracted to the hashtag #98GC.  It was the official hashtag of the game.  Interestingly, you don’t care who or how it was made official, it was just the one that people were using.  So, I opened a search column on my Seesmic Desktop to see what was happening.

What happened next really took me by surprise.

I’ve been in situations where I’ve used hashtags before but had experienced nothing like this.  With the Twitter plug-in, the messages came in as they happened.  And happen they did.  Talk about your information overload.  There was not a second that passed without multiple messages being displayed.  Even if I could devote my attention to the stream, I couldn’t have done it justice.  But, watching the game at the same time?  Wow.

What I did do is have the monitor strategically placed to the side and used it as my own personal replay server.  For every great play, there was a Montreal take to it and a Saskatchewan take.  Perhaps it was sheer volume or perhaps it was just that Canadians are just nice people but with all of this, there was no flaming or personal attacks.  It was just citizen journalism and opinion at its best.  It didn’t take a break even during the half-time show which featured Bachman and Turner from BTO fame.  Love them or hate them, everyone had an opinion.  The whole concept raised the bar immensely.

So high was the bar raised that the topics were “trending” in Canada and Worldwide.  Trending means that there’s so much volume that it’s among the most popular topics being discussed.  At the end of the game, I took this capture of just what was trending.

Ignore the unread messages – I wasn’t up to date with my iPod.  But, look at what was trending.  Half of the topics dealt with the Grey Cup.  I just found it amazing that whole country could gather around and comment on a single sporting event.

You will notice that it wasn’t all sports related.  In the middle of the game, the National Post had sent a message that GlobalTV had reported the passing of Leslie Nielsen.  It seems quite appropriate that this news was trending as well.

If there is any doubt of the value of immediate communication, share the concept of hashtags and trends with those who need convincing.

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