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Paper Tweeting: Social Media in the Classroom

I’m currently working with an elementary and middle school to roll out a school wide social media campaign.  I have had a lot of questions about this so I thought I would make a video sharing how that decision was made and how we are approaching it.  Yes, I did film this video today…although the calendar says spring, Colorado woke up to SNOW this morning-hence the furry hooded sweater. If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are the highlights: This private school decided to roll out a social media campaign to let the local community learn more about the school in hopes of increasing enrollment numbers.  I let the superintendent know that Twitter was not a marketing tool, people won’t follow accounts that are constantly broadcasting information.  That being said, stories are compelling and people will follow accounts that tell a compelling story, and that invite conversation. The most compelling story in a school comes from the students. Letting  students be the voice of the school does a few things: 1. It gives students a place to reflect on their learning. 2. It gives the community and parents an authentic look at what is happening in the classroom.  3. It allows us to model proper use of social media as we use Twitter WITH students. 4. It gives students a sense of pride in their school and a sense of ownership over what they do there. Because this campaign is being rolled out with elementary students, there are some special considerations.  Twitter clearly states in its terms of use that users must be 13 years old or older.  Students don’t have an individual Twitter account; instead, each classroom has an account.  Classes will Tweet using the interactive whiteboard as a class. The administration wanted to make this process as simple as possible for teachers. They asked me to create a Twitter account for every classroom, specialist, and administrator in the building. The administration made this campaign optional for teachers.  This was HUGE, instead of it feeling like one more thing added to the teacher’s already full plates, they got to make the decision to opt in.  Out of 30 elementary teachers 20 are attending our Tweetup tomorrow! The communications manager of the school is running the main School account.  She will be following a list of all of the classrooms tweeting and re-tweet the best of the best.  The main school account will be the “face” of the school on the Internet. The administration is Tweeting as well, they have a unique and different view of the school than the classroom teachers and students do. I created several lists for teachers to follow, there is a list for every discipline and age group as well as a list of other classes and student authors that tweet. I linked every Twitter account with a Facebook Fan page for the classroom.  I turned off all commenting features so that (for now) teachers don’t have to keep track of both platforms.  The Facebook Fan Page will most likely be accessed by parents who do not use Twitter so that they can still receive class updates.   Tomorrow I am holding a Tweetup. I BEGGED that this not look like typical tech training.  You know the kind…tired teachers crammed in the computer lab at the end of the day to learn a new tool.  Been there, done that. Unless you are a mega tech geek like me, you just really don’t appreciate those kind of trainings!  I was afraid if we approached this training the way we approach all other trainings, teachers would instantly have to get past that barrier.  Instead, we are meeting at a local coffee shop after school.  I sent out fun invitations and made sure teachers knew that this was a SOCIAL event.  After all, we are talking social media! Because I know this staff well (I worked with them for 7 years, these are my friends!), I also have the benefit of knowing how comfortable they are with technology.  I suspect that they are pretty typical of school staffs everywhere.  There are some who are very comfortable with new technologies, and some who have trouble filling out a login form on their own.  I didn’t want technology to be a barrier for those who aren’t comfortable with it, so I decided to steal an idea from my friend @mcteach.  She does a paper blogging project with her students where they learn to blog and comment using paper before technology even enters the picture.  I LOVED the idea and thought it could be adapted for my Twitter Tweetup.  I made a video describing my paper tweeting method below.     Again, if you don’t have time for the video, here are the highlights: I created a paper Twitter wall on chart paper that looks pretty similar to the actual Twitter wall (if I do say so myself).  This will be up on the wall at the coffee shop during our tweetup.  The Twitter wall is blank, ready for teacher tweets to fill it up. I made a name tag for each teacher with their @username.  You know those “hello my name is”?  Yeah, it is that with their twitter handle.  Rule of the day, if you are mentioning someone by name, there must be an @ preceding it I have a stack of 10 sticky notes for each teacher with their twitter handle and “picture” at the top of the note and “140” at the bottom.  This is where teachers will compose their tweets.  The sticky note messages get stuck to the Twitter wall chart I created.  My hope is that teachers will begin to understand the public nature of Twitter in a concrete way. I have regular envelopes that I have written DM on.  Teachers can use these to deliver DM’s to a friend.  Again, I wanted a concrete way of understanding the difference between a DM (Direct Message) and an @ reply. Since tomorrow is #edchat, I’ll be prompting discussion for our paper tweetup with the #edchat topic tomorrow.  This will give me the opportunity to talk about RT (retweets) and hashtags. In addition to #edchat discussion, I’ll ask teachers to share something that happened in their classrooms today as a tweet, helping them begin thinking about how to use Twitter in their classrooms. I’ll encourage teachers to try a paper tweetup with their students so that they understand Twitter before using the technology. After our paper tweeting session, I’ll let teachers hop on to Twitter and try it out while I am there to answer questions and help with any technical difficulties.  I really don’t want to focus on the tool, but on the connections and conversations that Twitter enables.  Twitter makes it easy to do this because the platform is so simple to use.   I think tomorrow will be fun, I’ll be sure to take some pictures and share them! If you missed them the first time around, here is a link to the Twitter posters that I created for the classrooms.

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14 Online Interactive Advent Calendars

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 30-11-2010

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It is December again, which means the beginning of Advent.  Advent calendars are a fun way to reveal information and “surprises” for your students to look forward to each day in December leading up to Christmas.  This year I thought I would make an advent calendar of my own using Wix.  I created a Web 2.0 advent calendar by choosing 25 of my favorite web 2.0 tools for the classroom.  Each day you can check out a new one.  (I’ll let you in on a secret, you can cheat and look at them all by clicking on the bird to get back to the calendar page…shh don’t tell anyone!)  You and your students can create your own custom advent calendar like I did using Wix.  Students can create an advent calendar of pictures of their school work, trivia for their parents, special audio notes, or anything they are learning.  To create your own Wix advent calendar, choose a template, add shapes to the template to create your calendar pieces, add 25 pages to the site, add links to those pages.  You could also create an advent calendar of your own using Glogster.  Create a customized advent calendar for your students with fun surprises, quotes, video clips, sound bites, etc.  It can be related to the learning they are doing in your classroom, suggestions of books to read,  or reveal special rewards like extra computer time, time playing a favorite game, time for reading, etc.  Be creative!

Woodlands Jr has a great online advent calendar every year that tests students knowledge about Christmas around the world.  The Woodlands Jr. 2010 advent calendar is now up and ready for viewing! This is a fun way for students to test their knowledge and learn about the ways that Christmas is celebrated all around the world.  As an extension, plot the places around the world that they are learning about on a world map.

BBC Radio has a fabulous Bach advent calendar. Each day your students can listen to a story about Bach or music.

The National Museum of Liverpool has an advent calendar that reveals a piece of art from the museum each day.

The Dirt Dirt advent calendar is purely fun, each day click on a number and an animation will be added to the tree.

For those of us who are app inclined, you can download a free app for your iDevice every day from Appvent Calendar.

Below you will find my interactive advent calendar finds from last year.  You are bound to find one that is a perfect fit for your class!

What it is: It is December!  This means the beginning of Advent along with the anticipation and excitement that it brings.  The Internet is full of interactive advent calendars that you can use in your classroom to teach about how the Christmas season is celebrated all around the world.  These advent calendars reveal fun facts, interactive activities, and stories.

Santa’s House Advent Calendar– This advent calendar tells a fun story.  Each day reveals another secret about what goes on inside Santa’s home on the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  In each picture, there is a little mouse hiding.  When students click on his ears, he jumps out.

Picture 1

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar– Each day students click on the date to reveal a fun fact about how countries around the world celebrate Christmas.  The facts are accompanied by great illustrations and pictures.  This site shows up very small inside my Internet browser (Firefox).  To remedy this problem, click on “view” in your menu bar and choose “zoom”.  You may need to zoom in several times.

Picture 2

Christmas Mice Advent Calendar– This calendar tells the story about a mouse family who celebrates Christmas.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.  Each picture includes some animation.

Picture 3

Santa’s Advent Calendar– On this advent calendar, each day reveals a new song or activity for students to complete. There are some fun Christmas themed mysteries to solve, stories to read, and activities to work through.

Picture 4French Carols Advent Calendar–  This is a French advent calendar.  Each day contains a new French Christmas carol sung by children.  This advent calendar would be a fun one to include in a study of Christmas around the world.

Picture 5

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar Quiz–  This advent calendar tests students knowledge about how other cultures celebrate Christmas.  Each day students are asked a question and given hints to help them answer.  When the answer is revealed, students can click on links to learn more about the Christmas celebrations in that country.  This site also includes great activities and teaching resources for Christmas.

Picture 6

Christmas Advent Calendar– Follow the adventures of Zac the elf as he tries to find a Christmas present for Santa.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.

Picture 7

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar–  This advent calendar has fun little games and activities to play each day.  The games and activities are quick and easy to complete, building mouse and keyboard skills.  This advent calendar would be a good one for the classroom computers as a center activity.

Picture 8

How to integrate Interactive Advent Calendars into the classroom: The season of Advent is always filled with eagerness and expectancy. Build some of that anticipation into your school day by allowing students to unlock a new secret on the advent calendar each day.  Use these advent calendars with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector, or set them up as a quick center activity that students can visit.  Use the advent calendars that reveal a story to practice looking for foreshadowing clues, using context clues to guess what will happen next, or as story starters for students own stories.  The Christmas around the world advent calendars are wonderful for teaching students some of the history of Christmas and the way that other cultures celebrate the familiar holiday.

Tips: Each of these advent calendars has some fun goodies and hidden surprises, find the one that best fits your classroom needs.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Interactive Advent Calendars  in your classroom.

Comments (11)

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, ktenkely, Heather Mason, lmockford, Tracy Poelzer and others. Tracy Poelzer said: RT @ShellTerrell: 14 Online Interactive Advent Calendars http://bit.ly/f1ry7R by @ktenkely #edtech […]

Awesome resources. I love your Web 2.0 Advent Calendar! I’m sharing it with my teachers because it’s so fun. Thanks for all of the great sharing you do.

I love your Web 2.0 advent calendar. What a great way to share tools with educators. I also hadn’t heard of Wix.com- very impressive. Thanks for your dedication to educational technology.

Great resources, thanks for sharing! I’m involved in a different kind of online advent calendar using a blog to publish a different type of resource each day, see http://www.librarycraft.com/festive24things

It’s designed for anyone to join in as a bit of fun and to introduce people to new tools they may not have heard of, by using the festive theme. I can see how this could easily be applied to a classroom setting also, and the great thing with blogging software like WordPress is that you can schedule posts in advance (similarly you could do a smaller scale version by simply scheduling 24 tweets with links to resources).

We hope people will join us in our festive adventure through web tools, please feel free to subscribe to the blog or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/festive24things

Jo, thanks so much for sharing your resource of the day, what fun!

Thank you Karen. Yes, Wix is a wonderful way to build a flash website that looks impressive in no time.

Thanks for passing it on Tiffany!

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I’ve enjoyed our blog very much. Thanks for all the great ideas.
Jeannie
retired educator
founder, educational nonprofit

Thanks for all the great tips!
I came across this online advent calendar of the public Czech TV; it has a nice educative ideas – comics on Baby Jesus, info on Christmas related music and paintings, educative games…. http://advent.ceskatelevize.cz/

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