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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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NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature-best website ever!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 19-04-2011

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Have I mentioned lately that I have the most AWESOME readers?  No?  Well it is true, you all are awesome and you keep me going even when I am running on low.  Thank you for that!  I’m currently working on starting a school (actually 3) in the next 2 years.  This is proving to be an exciting and, oh yeah, exhausting task.  Then I get encouraging emails and site suggestions from you all and it puts some major pep back in my step.  Thank you!  This website is one such recommendation.  You know you are a true geek when getting a cool website in your inbox revives you :)  Thank you Ryan!

What it is: NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash feature is a website that is absolutely not to be missed.  Seriously, it won’t even hurt my feelings if you skip reading my post and just head right on over to dig in and check it out yourselves!  This interactive timeline highlights each decade in our space program from 1950 to 2000.  Until we get time travel sorted out, this is a pretty good substitute! The site encourages exploration and discovery as students move decade by decade through the site.  I love that this site goes so far beyond just space exploration.  While students explore, they will hear music representing each decade, see animations, listen to virtual radio broadcasts of actual news headlines (including NASA news and other news from the decade), original video, listen to speeches of the decade and even launch rockets.  I can’t tell you how happy it made me to hear Johnny Cash mixed in as I was playing on this site (in the upper left corner of the site you will be able to change songs on the jukebox, record, tape, CD or mp3 player).  First thing I heard when I clicked on the 80’s “Tonight on Dallas find out who shot J.R.”. *LOVE THIS SITE!*  This blog post took me about 2 hours because I got sucked right into exploring and playing.  The site reminds me of Epcot’s Tomorrow Land, complete with robot guide.  This is what online learning should look like, when I close my eyes and dream, this is the experience I imagine for kids.  Can you imagine if there was a site like this for history? How cool would that be?!

How to integrate NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature into the classroom: This is one of those sites that you could let kids loose on just for exploration.  Without any guidance from you they will learn plenty!  Ideally kids would explore this site in partners or on their own in a one to one computer lab setting.  If each student has a computer, headphones will be a necessity.  If individual exploration just isn’t in the cards, visit the site as a class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computers.  Invite students up to the computer (whiteboard) to take turns guiding the class.  The site has plenty of interactive content to give each student a chance at the computer (whiteboard).  Unless you have a good chunk of time dedicated to the site, this is one that I would stretch out over a week.  Each day students can explore a new decade.

The space exploration component of this site is amazing and could keep everyone plenty busy with learning.  With older students, discuss what the music of the decade reveals about that time in history.  What does the music tell them about people, community, values, events of the day?  Take it one step further and ask students to dig into other historical events in each decade, discussing their impact on space exploration, culture and where we are today.  One thing that I missed out on in history was all of the stories that make it so rich.  For me, history was reduced to names, dates and places.  Give your students the opportunity to put themselves into history and learn about how the events influenced each other.

NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature would be a great one to use in connection with We Choose the Moon.  If your students are like mine, they can’t get enough of this stuff!  Obviously I can’t get enough of it either.  Full disclosure, I have always loved space exploration.  When I was a kid I spent many summers at Black Rock Desert at LDRS (Large Dangerous Rockets) with my dad.  My dad built wooden model rockets- first wooden rocket on record to break sound barrier!  In answer to your next question: yes, I have always been a complete and total nerd. :P

Tips: What? Your still here? Go on, visit the site! (channeling my inner Ferris Bueller today).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature thesauruses in your classroom!

Comments (3)

[…] site is a great one to use in connection with the NASA 50th Anniversary site I shared […]

[…] launch.  Using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard, launch one of the shuttles here.  When you “land” on the moon, let students explore the surface together by […]

[…] 8. NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature- Best. Website. Ever. An incredible interactive timeline that highlights each decade in the United States space program from 1950 to 2000. […]

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