Your One-Stop-All-You-Need-To-Know-Guide to Twitter.
“The hardest part of Twitter is that it does not have a friendly entry point. Until you develop a network, it actually takes a bit of work to make it meaningful and rewarding.”
Filled with ‘live’ links to help you Tweet and Retweet as you read the book, Twitter EDU makes learning to use Twitter an engaging experience!
The excerpt below is the book’s introduction. If you are wanting to start using twitter, or wanting to resurrect your dormant twitter account, or wanting to use twitter more effectively, then I’m sure you will get something out of the book. Please share with people you think might be interested and as always, I appreciate feedback.
Twitter EDUYour One-Stop-All-You-Need-To-Know-Guide to Twitter
I started Twitter in November of 2007. I jumped in rather unenthusiastically. Why the lack of enthusiasm? Because at the time I wasn’t updating my status regularly on Facebook and I thought to myself, “Why would I use a tool that only did one part of what Facebook did, when I already don’t use that part of Facebook?” However, I was blogging regularly and several educational bloggers that I admired were blogging over and over again about ‘the power of Twitter’. So, while November of 2007 may make me seem like an early adopter to you, I was dragged in late in comparison to my blogging friends.
What happened next was amazing. Suddenly I found that some very interesting people were sharing resources that I would never have found had I not been on Twitter. This wasn’t the era of smartphones, and so I’d often read tweets early in the morning and then after working all day as a Grade 8 teacher, I’d go home and search for the last tweet that I saw in my twitter stream, and make sure that I didn’t miss a single tweet from the people I followed. I can remember the early years when twitter would be overloaded and the whole site would go down. There would be a picture of a ‘fail whale’ up instead of my Twitter stream and it would be agonizing to wait until Twitter came back up so that I could see what I missed.
Eventually, the whale disappeared, and Twitter became much more stable. Eventually, I stopped trying to read every tweet that came my way, my twitter stream got way too big. And, Eventually, twitter became a resource that fed me far more than I could ever feed it, and it continues to satisfy my appetite for learning over a decade later.
I recognize that not everyone will use Twitter the same way I do. Your reason for wanting to use twitter may range from learning, to networking and connecting to people in your industry, to self-promotion, to keeping up with the news, to entertainment, to some personal way that I simply haven’t thought of. No matter what your reasons, I’m pretty sure this book will help you. Just remember to help yourself and to ‘play’ along on Twitter as you go.
And finally, before we get started, have a look at the fail whale again. If you feel like things are going too fast, or thinking ‘I don’t get it’, then find a friend to help you. People who understand twitter are always looking to ‘lift up’ those that are just getting going. On several pages of this book I suggest finding a (local) Twitter mentor. Ten to twenty minutes with a friend helping you can go a long way to make your initial experiences easier, and will probably make this book easier to play along with.
If you enter this learning experience with a ‘Growth Mindset’, you will become a ‘Super Tweeter’ in no time.
“People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.”
For example, much of the ‘learn at your own pace’ of 20 years ago meant ‘here is the (printed) package of work so that you can move ahead’ (on your own). Now with online resources, discussion forums, YouTube, access to research and experts… that ‘own pace’ can be far more collaborative and richly supported. Even more so in a learning environment that focuses on competencies & skills, rather than content.
So in this, and many other examples, it’s not like ‘we did this back in the day’… it’s fundamentally different. It still warrants critique & criticism when it’s due, but it doesn’t warrant dismissal because ‘we’ve already tried it’.
“If we are going to help our students thrive, we have to move past “the way we have always done it,” and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves. This does not mean replacing everything we do, but we must being willing to look with fresh eyes at what we do and ask, “Is there a better way?” We would expect the same mindset from our students, and, as educators, that question is the first step on the path to a better future for education.”
Does it really matter if a version of what’s new has surfaced before? Or does our mindset, and our willingness to improve, matter more?
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
I think that we sometimes lose sight of what is important. We focus on individual acts, or in schools, individual assignments, and on praising final products and presentations. We often lose sight of the continual work, the tireless editing and polishing, and the consistent effort that will produce those final (shiny) products that seem to garnish all the attention.
Excellence does not come without hard work. But the hard work does not need to feel hard.
Excellence does not come without motivation. But motivation is internal and not easily developed by external forces.
Excellence does not come without failure. But failure can be a barrier that never lets a person achieve excellence, unless that person is willing to work hard and maintain motivation to succeed.
After a student-led tour, Kassandra (Gr. 12), Laef (Gr. 11), and Jazmine (Gr. 10), gave short presentations discussing some of their work at our school. As impressive as I think their presentations were, it was not the presentations themselves that were a highlight, but rather the obvious vision, research and effort put into developing the projects they presented. I believe that these students embody the ideas that excellence takes hard work, and is driven by internal motivation and perseverance through challenges, (and sometimes failed attempts).
The transformative view is that learning is a social process, with students and teachers working in partnership with each other and with experts beyond school, supported by digital technologies. In the transformative view, collaboration, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial know-how, and ethical citizenship infuse teaching and learning. Students and teachers co-design their work. The learning environment, which extends beyond the classroom, is purposefully designed for students to think, research, analyze, develop and improve their ideas, and demonstrate deep understanding through the work they produce.
If we are going to authentically empower students, to help motivate them and provide them with opportunities to be excellent, they need to be partners in creating the learning environment. They also need to be empowered to make choices about what they want to learn and explore.
While writing this, I’m in a private DM Twitter chat with one of our students about the design of our new posters for the school, (our old logo is still on the current school posters, not our new student-designed and co-approved logo). It’s the Saturday of a long weekend, and he initiated the conversation.
It was intentional that the tour to start Patricia and Robert’s visit was student led. It was intentional that our students presented before our teacher, John Sarte, spoke about our schedule. And it wasn’t John or I that organized the students meeting to coordinate slides and practice their presentations (with each other, not with us).
Excellence may come from within, but it our job as educators to create an environment where students feel empowered to excel, and to create expectations that students can and will do amazing things.
Student Powered Learning, from John Sarte's Ignite - YouTube
The photo above is of Terry Fox‘ Memorial just outside of Thunder Bay, where he had to stop his run across Canada because his cancer had returned. He was running a marathon a day, in the hopes of raising $1 per Canadian for cancer research. When he stopped, he had a grapefruit-sized tumour in his lung. The day he stoped, he had run a marathon. The day before he stopped he had run a marathon…
What few people know about Terry Fox is that in his first year of high school he was the last kid off the bench for his basketball team. In his graduating year he was co-captain of the same team. For him, excellence was not a single act, it was a habit.
We need not all be as courageous as Terry. We need not all achieve great things. But we can all strive to be excellent in an area or a field that we are passionate about.
The format for the evening was 3 presentations, dinner, 4 presentations, desert, and then 3 more presentations. Not all of them were specific to education, and one of my favourites of the night was Kelsey Keller sharing Eureka moments as a parent.
My colleague at Inquiry Hub Secondary, John Sarte, shared thoughts on the purpose of schools, and delved into some of the projects students work on, including one of our students that designed and built snow-making machines, built a bunch of them, and then created a job for himself at local ski mountains running them and maintaining them.
He also shared that although he hates Halloween and dressing up, he finds himself doing 5 costume changes in a single day, while participating in a LARP – Live Action Role Play that is designed and organized by our students. Why? Because the costumes have purpose and the students are fully immersed in the learning experience.
My favourites Ignites that I have ever seen include Chris Lehmann‘s The Schools We Need Presentation at Ignite Philly 2 (I’ve only watched it online, He did it 9 years ago and it is still relevant). And Dean Shareski‘s “Busy is not a Badge of Honour”. This presentation completely reframed what I thought about the term ‘busy’ and I stopped using it. I started focussing more on using descriptors that actually helped me move forward, rather than convincing myself that I was at best “busy but good” when people ask questions like ‘How are you?’.
Was inspired by all the #yvrignite presentations! The one that has most infulenced a shift in me @shareski “Busy is not a badge of honour”
Below is a ‘Storify’ sharing tweets from the night, shared by our host Craig Ma.
For those interested in Twitter chats, Craig and Bryn Williams (who presented on Teaching with HEART – Health Empathy Advocacy Respect Trust), are co-hosts of #BCedchat on Sunday nights at 7pm. Also, if you aren’t into Twitter (yet), at some point I’ll get my free All-you-need-to-know-guide completed… you can get an email from me to tell you when it is ready. It will also be in my monthly newsletter, if that’s something you are interested in.
As stated above, “The transformative view is that learning is a social process…” Later in the document,
“There is no doubt that innovation is disruptive. But the disruption can uncover the policy or practice that needs to change to enable an innovation to flourish. Social innovation concepts and complexity theories can help to frame the problems and point toward workable solutions. Frances Westley, a leading Canadian scholar, defines social innovation this way:
“Social innovation is an initiative, product, process or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resource, and authority flows or beliefs of any social system. Successful social innovations have durability and broad impact.”
What are we doing to Scale Up and Scale Out?
By nature of what needs to happen, we will need to embrace experimentation and embrace multiple iterations and an acceptance that some things we try will not work. Trying new ideas, embracing self, peer and outside feedback, and being flexible and responsive will be key to scaling out and scaling up.
A model like this explicitly places expectations that leadership, and support by leaders, is key in developing sustainable transformation through innovative practices. Innovation can happen in pockets, but it won’t scale without a system level effort to support, and remove barriers from, innovative practices happening on a larger scale.
Transformation is a social process and being innovative involves co-designing our new practices at all levels. More than ever, leaders at all levels need to be collaborative and create a climate of support that encourages an openness to challenging practices (and policies) that may not encourage iterations, and learning from mistakes. How do we spread innovation that is desirable? How do we encourage and support useful system-wide changes?
One of the most beautiful quotes on religion, that resonates with me, comes from the movie 'The Last Temptation of Christ':
“What do you think heavens like?”
Its like a wedding. Gods the bridegroom and mans spirits the bride. The wedding takes place in heaven
and everyones invited.
Gods world is big enough for everyone.
Most faiths share a belief that there is a Heaven.
I believe that any religious concept of heaven has the potential to be big enough for everyone. And I believe that no matter what your faith, love, acceptance, compassion and charity, not devotion, are the price of admission. I also believe that if we truly want to coexist, we can get pretty close to heaven on earth if love, acceptance, compassion and charity are what we all practiced.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
How much time do we spend focused on whats wrong in the world? How much tragic, sad, and angry news do we pay attention to? What purpose do we find in focusing on negative people, horrible accidents and unholy acts?
“Its not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa
What if we put some intentional focus on whats good for a while? What if we actively pursued reasons to give praise, and thanks? What if we thought of new ways to be of service to others?
It is not our beliefs, but rather our actions upon those beliefs that define who we are. We can have faith in humanity only by having the conviction to practice what it truly means to be human.
Teachers working in isolation, at best, will improve incrementally.
Teachers who collaborate, learn from each other. They will feed off of each other’s insights and enthusiasm and they will learn exponentially. If they participate in collaborative learning opportunities with peers and students, they will see exponential growth in student learning as well.
The era of educators as lone experts in the front of a classroom is over. But the era of networked learning and collaborative opportunities (both in face-to-face and digital communities) is just beginning. Actually it has been around for well over a decade, but a critical mass is in reach, and educators who chose to stay isolated will be left behind.