Teacher’s guide to Twitter

Still in Twitter mode, I’d like to share the teacher’s guide to Twitter by Kate Klingensmith on her blog Once a teacher.

Kate’s post answers those who question whether Twitter is worth the effort – and perhaps all of us have been there. I was certainly there not long ago, and am still expanding my Twitterverse.

Most people start off in a rocky relationship with Twitter.  It doesn’t seem to be as easy or as useful as everyone has said, it takes awhile before you find your niche, and there is an overwhelming amount of information to deal with.  But, just hang on – it’ll be worth it!!! 

Kate links to Mark Marshall’s post ‘Twitter: what is it , and why would I use it?’  Mark explores how to get started, why you would want to share stuff with strangers, and how to get followers in order to make  Twitter a meaningful experience. After all, there’s nothing sadder than a Twitter account with only a handful of followers.

Kate also posts useful information, such as how to manage your life on Twitter, how to control all that information, and favourite Twitter-related tools, and Twitter links.

Finding people to follow is initially problematic. Kate helps out by sharing directories of educators and professionals on Twitter, or suggesting that people use the Twitter Grader keyboard search, or Twitterholic.

I found Kate’s advice about keeping up with the everflowing or even overflowing Twitterstream very helpful (since at times it’s like trying to keep up with the treadmill without falling over

You’re standing on the bank, enjoying the stream as it passes, but you can’t worry about enjoyoing every drop of water that’s there.  Don’t worry about the tweets you missed – I promise that there are always, currently, very interesting things to read.  But – it is nice to catch up sometimes by browsing old tweets on peoples’ profile pages.

Also useful are the links to shorten urls, such as tinyurl  and fun symbols you can use in your tweets. It’s all part of the Twitter grammar and vocabulary.

My favourite section of Kate’s post, however, is the one that links to her favourite Twitter-related tools. Tweetdeck is a more attractive and organised way of receiving tweets; Retweetlist tells you who’s hot on Twitter; and my favourite for today – Twistori, where you can search tweets that start with ‘I love; hate; think; believe; feel; wish.

I wish that I could twitter about something other than food today, but I’m so hungry now;

I love the way the brain cell finally gets up when the body has already begun the day

I hate chasing the clock

Okay, that’s enough reblogging. Here’s where I discovered this fantastic post – on Top 100 Edu Tweeters, which has been revised recently, I’m sure.

Thanks to @Elizabeth Koh for the Top 100 link.

Friday tie day

Well, it’s the end of the week, and it’s lucky I’m feeling so tired because I’m at the end of my tether as a result of ongoing, seemingly never-ending laptop problems, and so I’m past caring. After excruciatingly persistent and varied problems with my school notebook computer, my reading and online participation has been severely curtailed. And see, I’ve reverted to my defensive bombast, taking comfort in florid and meaningless hyperbole. At the end of the week, after doing the minimal homely duties, ie. dinner because, after all, we all have to eat, I’ve collapsed on the couch, and my brain has taken on the form of a failed blancmange (which, by the way, means white dish in French).

Eager to post to validate my existence, but unable to muster up anything of substance, I’m embedding the video, Simon’s cat. I’ve seen this before, but it still lifted the spirits. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope to rise from my ashes and make intelligent conversation some time soon.


By the way, Friday tie day – a friend of mine used to say it, and at her work, people used to celebrate the end of the week by going around and pulling out everyone’s ties. I think she worked with men predominantly. No comment.

Networking is working for some in the classroom

Photo by Thiyaga on Flickr

In his post The added value of networking, Will Richardson quotes Greenhow in a Harvard Graduate School of Education magazine editorial entitled “Thanks for the Add. Now Help Me with my Homework.” , who says that the kind of skills students are developing on social networking sites are the very same 21st century skills that educators have identified as important for the next generation of knowledge  —  empathy, appreciation for diversity of viewpoints, and an ability to multitask and collaborate with peers on complex projects’.

And yet skills are not the kind of thing that most people would expect to associate with Facebook or MySpace. Online socialising, maybe, wasting time, perhaps, collection of  too many ‘friends’ who couldn’t possibly be real friends, definitely, and what about inappropriate language and photos?  Isn’t this how most responsible people view social networking?

Surprisingly for many, and difficult to believe for most, is the fact that social networking has opened up a range of much more interesting possibilities for young people. Will quotes Greenhow saying that

most students use the medium to reach out to their peers for emotional support and as a way to develop self-esteem. One student created a video of his intramural soccer team to entice his friends to come to his games. Another created an online radio show to express his opinions, then used Facebook to promote a URL where friends could stream it live, and then used one of Facebook’s add-in applications to create a fan site for the show.

Recently our Head of English has decided to use Facebook to engage our year 12 boys in a discussion of their texts, as well as provide a platform for general questions about English skills. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. What a brilliant idea! The boys are already on Facebook in their free time, so why not use the groups application in Facebook? What has ensued is an intelligent and stimulating collaborative discussion, in which the teacher comes in to stimulate discussion and answer questions only inasmuch as all this hasn’t been taken care of by the boys. There’s something to be said for this kind of discussion where everyone can comment, taking their time to think, not being interrupted or intimidated by others, or being able to re-read comments for clarification and review.

The Facebook project obviously had to go through the correct procedures before starting, eg. parent approval, and presentation and justification to the principal. This process is a good way to inform the school community, as well as clarify the teacher’s own reasons to support teaching and learning.

The relationship between the teacher and the boys would be strengthened, I imagine, following the Facebook group project. A teacher coming across to the students’ preferred way of communicating could only be seen as positive. The tone of the conversation is friendly, open, encouraging and often spiced with humour. The divide between teacher and student is diminished, as the teacher becomes more approachable. I think students would also appreciate the fact that the teacher is taking the time to interact with them after hours.

I only wish that somehow parents could see the valuable conversation that is taking place, so that they would understand the value of such a project, but I doubt that these students would enjoy their parents having access to their Facebook accounts!

What were those networking skills again? Empathy, appreciation for diversity of viewpoints, and an ability to multitask and collaborate with peers on complex projects. Students supporting and encouraging each other; learning to respect others’ viewpoints, working together to explore ideas and understandings. Not bad skills for life…

Earthquake in Melbourne: Twitter beats breaking news

Sitting on the couch earlier this evening, I felt a strange sensation of moving with the couch, as the bookshelf behind me creaked. Melbourne had experienced a light earthquake. Did it happen or did I imagine it? After a while I tweeted it in the form of a question, hoping to ascertain whether it really happened or not. Sure enough, Twitter exploded with tweets registering similar experiences.

Meanwhile, the TV was on, but no news about an earthquake. Look at ABC news online – nothing. Channel 7 Breaking News remained unbroken – just a repeat of the stories that had been broadcast several times already this evening.

Gradually, traditional news providers came on board. Channel 7 finally acknowledged the quake at 10.27 pm. Very slow, considering John Connell had already completed a post about the Melbourne quake from Scotland.

Here it is, and he has an image of the first 18 twitterers – I’m there on the right. I would have been quicker but my laptop was doing its usual slow-loading.


As Craig has pointed out in a comment below, Breaking Tweets (World News Twitter style)  reported 800 tweets before media jumped in.

Visual Blooms Web 2.0 Taxonomy


Bloom’s Taxonomy has come a long way. Well, so it should, since it originated in the 1950s.

Thomas, on Open Education, explains the logic underpinning the taxonomy:

The basis for the theory is rather straightforward, a person cannot understand something that he does not remember (know) nor can he/she analyze or apply that knowledge if the person does not understand the material. Though an ability to analyze and apply certainly supersedes the basic knowledge category, to synthesize entails divergently applying knowledge and/or skills to produce something new. Lastly, evaluating or judging the value of material is necessary to produce a worthy final end product.

The above image is  an easy visual overview of Web 2.0 tools and how they fit into Blooms Taxonomy. It was designed by Mike Fisher.  I think it’s open to interpretation. Twitter, for example, would fit in more than one category. What do you think?

For an extremely detailed and awesomely impressive account of Bloom’s digital taxonomy, here’s Andrew Church’s update on Blooms for the digital age.

Authoured by Andrew Churches, the digital taxonomy account for the use of social media and a variety of digital tools that can be used in educational contexts. Not limited to a discussion of the cognitive domain, the text includes discussions and suggestions for methods and tooling.

[scribd id=8000050 key=key-27g4ipakpdfrxflg9cr7]

Andrew’s work is invaluable in providing a framework for new technologies. As Thomas says in his post,

Churches digital examples at the evaluation level provide strong reinforcement for the use of blogs and Wikis to greatly enhance learning.

And if you want to go back and explore the taxonomy in depth, here’s a whole wiki on Blooms Taxonomy.

Dr Seuss on Google


Today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of  Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss. Google has a little tribute.

Random House has a Dr Seuss website for kids. Amongst the fun stuff, there is also a biography.


Many children learn to read through Dr Seuss stories. I can’t say I did, although we did have a copy of The cat in the hat. Most children would have read some Dr Seuss, I think, and adults remember the stories fondly.

What is less known is the fact that Theodor Geisel’s early political cartoons demonstrate a passionate opposition to fascism, and that he urged Americans to oppose it, whereas his cartoons tended to regard the fear of communism as overstated. He also denounced discrimination in America against African Americans and Jews (Wikipedia).

Many of Geisel’s books are thought to express his views on a myriad of social and political issues: The Lorax (1971), about environmentalism and anti-consumerism; The Sneetches (1961), about racial equality; The Butter Battle Book (1984), about the arms race; Yertle the Turtle (1958), about anti-fascism and anti-authoritarianism; How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), about anti-materialism; and Horton Hears a Who! (1954), about anti-isolationism and internationalism.

However, I don’t think that’s what Dr Seuss is remembered for. That would most likely be his rhythmic and catchy verse, and his quirky characters.

I’ll leave you with a video of Green eggs and ham to enjoy.