Developing Your Personal Learning Network Using Twitter

I realize there are many amazing posts on the merits of using Twitter to develop a PLN. I also realize that there already exists dozens of collections of tools for making the most of Twitter. I also acknowledge that I have already posted on this very same topic. Yet, as I gather the resources for my presentation today at Kean University’s Center for Innovative Education, I feel it appropriate to post them here.

I was asked to present on using Twitter to develop a personal learning network. Here’s the description I provided for the session:

Developing Your Personal Learning Network Using Twitter

With over 14 million people on Twitter, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you just may be missing something. Join us for a presentation on ways Twitter can be harnessed to build a rich and powerful learning community. Whether you are a novice Tweeter or have been Tweeting for some time, you will gain tips and tricks to leverage the potential of this network using resources designed specifically for educators. Come capitalize on the face to face connections within this workshop to further enrich your Twitter experience.

I only have an hour and there’s so much about Twitter that I won’t be able to share because I will want attendees to take advantage of the face-to-face networking time before they go off to develop their online learning networks. I thought I would mention some of the tools and topics I would have liked to discuss here, so that anyone attending still has access to the information – all in one place – and of course to share with my PLN what I feel are valuable resources.

Twitter Memes and Hashtags:

Follow Friday – Each Friday, Twitter users suggests other Tweeters to follow. They end or begin their Tweet with #FollowFriday (An example.)
Teacher Tuesday suggests teachers to follow on Twitter and as the title suggest happens every Tuesday.
EdChat –  Educators pick specific topics to Tweet about and the conversation is archived.
CIE09 – The hashtag for the CIE conference on December 11, 2009

Using Twitter Hashtags – This is a great explanation of what a Hashtag is and how they are used.

Ways to Build your Network:

Twitter4Teachers – An extensive list of educators on Twitter  – categorized by subject area / grade level
Who Should I Follow? – Find new Twitter Friends
Mr.Tweet – Discover great people relevant to your current needs

Searching for Tweets and Twitterers:
Twitter Search – Search by keyword, Hashtag or even Twitter ID
TweetScan – Searches Twitter and allows you to get e-mail updates
Tweetdeck – Group people together and have separate columns for @Replies, DMs, Groups and the public timeline

Cool Twitter Tools:

Tweet Wheel– allows you to visually discover which of your followers know each other.
Top Twitter Friends –  Including a list of your top 20 BFFs and suggestions of Twitterers to follow. 

For discovering many more Twitter tools:

Top Twitter Tools for 2009
Twitter Fan Wiki

I know there are so many more tools and resources out there. Many folks in my PLN have created screencasts and video tutorials on how to use these tools and on the merits of using Twitter. They are all in my Social Bookmarks at http://delicious.com/lthumann/twitter or http://www.diigo.com/user/lthumann/twitter. I also bookmark anything related to Twitter to the Diigo Twitter Freaks Group.

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Sweet Searching with Google

There are so many search tools available in Google that this past August when I presented at the Google Teacher Academy in Boulder, Colorado, I named my presentation “Google Search: At A Mile A Minute”. I spoke as fast as I could and showed as much as I could in the 30 minutes I was allotted.

But, I have to tell you that it’s tough to stay on top of all the options that Google comes out with for Search. It is worth the effort though.

Today at the monthly NJECC meeting, Samantha Morra, Sarah Rolle, Liz Bagish and I will be presenting part 1 of a 2 part series on Google Apps to our organization. We are all Google Certified Teachers, so we divided up the topics we wanted to cover and I chose Google Search.

This is the list of Search features I’ll be demonstrating and why I chose these specifically. (Bear in mind that I only have about 25 minutes.)

Google Show Options – We’ll be talking about addressing all learners and looking in information in different formats.

Wonder Wheel

Timeline

Also along these lines we’ll look at Google Squared.

I’d also like the group to know that their schools can import their entire libraries into Google Books and what information they can see about each book there. I’ll focus on:

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Searching the Book
  3. Popular Passages
  4. Book Reviews
  5. References from other Books
  6. References from Scholarly Works

This will lead nicely into Scholar Search which we’ll touch on briefly. (Well, everything will be brief, right?)

We’ll cover that Google Scholar searches:

  • Reputable articles
  • Journals
  • Books

We’ll also make clear that Google Scholar does not search:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Popular websites

I wanted to show the NEW Google Image Swirl and I will when I show everyone some advanced Image Search strategies including Similar Images, usage rights and searching by color, picture size and style.

We’ll look at Insights for Search and what the trending topics are for New Jersey for the last 30 days. We’ll talk about how students can compare this information to other parts of the U.S. and other countries.

Lastly, we’ll make sure that people know how to be alerted to any information that is important to them using Google Alerts. I will demonstrate to benefit of Google Alerts and suggest them for your school, district, people you know (like relatives), yourself and topics you are interested in.

I’m hoping everyone is able to learn a few new search techniques. Everyone has their own style, so not every tool I show them will necessarily meet their needs or the needs of the students in their classrooms. And I know I’m leaving so many great search tools out. But I only have 25 minutes. 🙂

Do You Have a Handout for That?

I recently spoke at a conference where the anticipated attendance was 16,000. There were 30 laptops set up with 60 seats and then overflow seating for another 40 people. I gave 5 presentations over 2 days. I didn’t know before I got there how many people I was going to see and now that I’m home, I still don’t know. But I can tell you that at least 10 people asked me if I had a handout I could give them. There were also many attendees that commented about it. I was grateful to see this Tweet from NJ educator Brian McLaughlin.

brian

I think sometimes as educators, we are accustomed to getting everything on paper. But what really happens to it? We stick it in a folder, we throw it away, or it gets lost in a an ever-growing pile of papers collecting on our desk.

Here are some tools that I’ve been using and have seem some other educators use to share information and resources during presentations and professional development sessions:

Google Docs
Click on Share — Publish as Webpage and Google Docs will assign you a unique public URL (link) for your document. You still will be the only one that has rights to edit your Google Doc, unless you invite Collaborators, but you can use this feature to share a digital agenda, list of links, or anything that you would have printed out in the past. Here’s a sample… http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddn2z86w_3dn2hs4fj

http://www.scribd.com/
On Scribd, you can upload a Word or PDF file and they will convert it into a web document. This way your attendees have access to it on their computers. All you have to do is share the URL  with them. Here’s a sample…http://www.scribd.com/doc/17245218/Discovery-Education-Whats-New-2009

Wikis
http://www.wikispaces.com/
http://sites.google.com
http://pbworks.com/
Wikis will allow you to embed more than one type of content on them. Like I did for my presentations at the NJEA Convention, I included links to websites, embedded videos and gadgets to PollEverywhere and Slideshare. These are pieces of information you really can’t print out. Here’s a sample… http://njea-tis-09.wikispaces.com/shoestring-did-you-say-that-was-free

Glogster
Glogster advertises itself as “a creative, dynamic, and innovative digital outlet that captures learner’s excitement for online creations, keeps learners engaged in course content, and makes teaching and learning more fun.” This is great, but to summarize, it allows us to provide our attendees (whether they are students or educators) with a digital resource rather than a printed one. Here’s a sample… http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/

Wallwisher
Wallwisher defines itself as a “web page where people actually post messages.” The great part about this is that you don’t need an account with Wallwisher in order to post a note on a Wall. So you can have the folks in your session contribute ideas or links to the wall and then save the URL to refer back to. There’s no need to print out anything during the workshop and run and go make copies as they’ll always have access to the information. Here’s a sample… http://wallwisher.com/wall/techforum09

Do you have any tools you are using with your students or in professional development to eliminate unnecessary handouts and to increase productivity? Please share them!

Final Preparations for #NJEA09

I was honored when the folks that ran the NJEA Technology Institutes this past July invited me to run some sessions at the NJEA Convention this fall. I had remembered reading the blog posts and Tweets from fellow NJ educators while they were in the High Tech Hall last November and felt a bit envious that there was such a large gathering of local teachers interested in using technology to improve teaching and learning in the classroom that I couldn’t be a part of. But this year, I’ll be there in Classroom 2.

My good friend and colleague, Kevin Jarrett, has been sharing resources with me and the others involved in the showcase. Here’s a map to the High Tech Hall as well as the two Classrooms that will be in the Convention Center dedicated to the technology integration. I was also able to (finally) find a link to the online program guide on the NJEA website.

program

I’m presenting five one-hour sessions with the theme: Stretching Your Technology Dollar –  Shoestring Innovations

Thursday, November 5

9:00am Thinking Inside the Box

11:30am Did You Say That Was Free?

1:00pm Are We Teaching Standard Students?

Friday, November 6

9:00am This Is Not Your Grandmother’s Google

11:30am Don’t Be Late-That’s So 2008

Each session will be hands-on in Classroom 2 which is loaded with computers. The way I understand it, you can’t sign up for a seat, so you’ll need to come down to the High Tech Hall a little on the early side should you see a session that peaks piques your interest. While you are there, there are tons of mini sessions going on and there are other one-hour workshops in Classroom 2 as well.

I’m looking forward to networking with and learning from many folks I don’t get to see face-to-face too frequently. I hope to see you there too!!

I Just Don’t Like Technology

This is how the day started this past Thursday morning. I was about to begin Day 2 of ActivInspire training with a group of elementary school teachers when one of the 18 educators came right out and said “I just don’t like technology.”

DAY – TONE = BROKEN

How did I respond? Well as others in the group chuckled, guffawed and attempted to defend their colleague, I quickly brainstormed some follow-up questions.

  1. Do you not care for using technology in your classroom because you don’t feel comfortable using it?
  2. Do you allow for opportunities for your students to interact with technology in your classroom?
  3. Are you open to seeing how interactive whiteboards (IWB) can help make lessons more engaging for students therefor helping them understand and retain more of the content of your lesson?

Well, in the moments that I was deciding what to ask this teacher who had announced to the entire group that she didn’t like using technology, the group had asked her to expand on what she had said.

Since the elementary teachers were from four different buildings within the same school district, they all didn’t know each other. This particular teacher was an in-class support teacher who “pushed-in” to several different classes who had IWB’s so she was told to come to the training. She shared with the group that she didn’t want to use the IWB, she didn’t use computers, and that she didn’t even want to use a cell phone. Actually, her colleagues from her school shared that this was the case and she had no problem being vocal about it in the building.

SHE IS NOT ALONE

I was reading one of Doug Peterson’s recent posts about how he doesn’t want to be “trained” on a professional development day. He writes about how he wants to be given resources on where to go if he needs more help. He wants to be given examples on how to use the skills and tools with his students. I read this with a bit of confidence as this is how I design my professional development.

THIS IS AN ISSUE OF

CONTINUING EDUCATION

I sat in the doctor’s office for several hours the other morning to wait to see him. I feel he is a good doctor. I go to him because I feel he keeps up with current research and trends in his field. I do not care to see a doctor who is practicing what they learned when they went to medical school. I want them to remain current and to continue to research and learn.

Should we expect the same from educators? In the No Future Left Behind video published by Marianne Malstrom and Peggy Sheehy the students actually say “I can’t create my future with the tools of your past“.  Should teachers be accountable for demonstrating they are effectively using current technologies with our students? I’m interested in your opinion.

The One-Computer Classroom

My copy of the 1998 version of Tom Snyder's One-Computer Classroom
My copy of the 1998 version of Tom Snyder's Great Teaching in the One-Computer Classroom

I was so surprised to see this book for sale on Amazon.com this week. I thought for sure there was a new version out.  I must have bought it back in 1999. It was exciting that it included the Internet as the picture below will show you. It was one of the few resources back then that was going to help me help educators use the one or two or even three computers they had in their classrooms with their students. I was even lucky to be in a school with a T1 line back then.

"Includes the INTERNET!"
"Includes the INTERNET!"

Well, in many districts, things haven’t changed that much. Though there are laptop carts, not every teacher has access to them all the time and they don’t always have a bank of computers in their rooms.

I spent the last few days putting together an agenda for a group of grade 3-5 teachers who after many years, are getting some new MacBook Pros. This new laptop will still be the only computer in their classrooms. They will have access to LCD projectors, but they will be sharing them, so they are not ceiling mounted.

My charge? Excite. Enthuse. Express. Et cetera.

Here’s my plan. I’m not going until September 8, so please let me know if you have anything to add.

The One-Computer Classroom

Let’s categorize the computer for three purposes:

  1. A presentation tool
  2. A personal productivity tool
  3. A learning center for small group activities

The Computer as a Presentation Tool

Use your computer to engage your students:

  1. Evaluate and discuss the role of the computer in the classroom.
  2. Locate and identify classroom presentation materials.
  3. Reflect upon the usefulness and effectiveness of presentation tools.

Possible Resources:

The Computer for Personal Productivity

Use your computer to be more productive:

  1. Locate and identify classroom materials using productivity resources.
  2. Examine, explore, and discuss Internet and software personal productivity resources.
  3. Reflect upon the usefulness and effectiveness of personal productivity resources.

Possible Resources:

The Computer as a Learning Center for Small Group Activities

Use your computer to bring students together in small groups:

  1. Locate and identify online resources appropriate for small group activities.
  2. Explore activities across several subject areas.
  3. Evaluate and discuss the use of the computer for interactive group activities.

Possible Resources:


I plan to demonstrate how to create a Google Form towards the conclusion of our 2 1/2 hours together. I’d like to generate a needs assessment as a group as to what types of activities they are looking for to use with their students and where they would like to house these resources. I know where I would keep everything (Delicious and Diigo and I might suggest they form a Ning,) but this is the first time I am meeting these teachers and this is an opportunity to show them what is available to them. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm them, certianly not in 180 minutes.

Comfort Zones

roseLiz Davis and I presented three workshops together this past week at BLC. The first is one we have done many times together and separately, it comes as second nature to us at this point. The second workshop I developed almost a year ago, we just worked together to select the ed tech leaders we would showcase and who would talk about who. The third workshop was developed originally by Liz and is out of my comfort zone. This is the second time we have led it together and each time attendees have responded well and have seemed to really enjoy the activities, but in the hours and days leading up the the session, I definitely wasn’t into it. (And Liz called me on it the morning of the presentation.)

So, as I sat on the long train ride back to New Jersey sans wireless, I thought about some of the situations that take me out of my comfort zone. I thought maybe this might be a time in my life that I should face some of them and challenge myself to move past some of the more trivial ones. Perhaps, if I am feeling bold, I might even consider trying to overcome the more complicated challenges as well.

As we went to dinner each night in groups, some large and some small, I commented on the fact that I had never dined alone in a restaurant. My companions asked if I had ever been to a movie by myself, another trip I have yet to make solo and I realized that though I rather enjoy having alone time, it is usually in the privacy of my own house.

I prefer to sit either in the front or the back of a room. The details of left or right are irrelevant, what is important to me is that I am aware of who is around me and when I have people both in front of me and in back of me I find it distracting. (Not that there aren’t ten other things going on to distract me anyway.)

So, back to this last session that Liz and I led at BLC. It was the last slot of the last day. “Goal! Define Your Goals and Leverage Your Network to Achieve Them!” was how we intended conference attendees to leave BLC with a plan in place on how to achieve one of their goals and who was going to help them. Here’s some of the goals set by the attendees:

@Dunningk – I want to do a monthly vlog and post it to our website.

@shadowg – Send the tweet to all BA students and faculty.  Few people respond with ideas.  A few faculty send message not to tweet them, very upset with me.  Ideas from students start to form.  Block the upset faculty/students.  Students now are building ideas presented and working with the librarians and other students, such as podcasts, videos of how to, book suggestions,  library makeover ideas……

@nicolesandburn – I hope to start a wiki/blog/podcast for my French and Spanish class

@trinapaynter – I want to create technology playground days (workshops) for teachers to try out new technology tools.

@analogurl – Implementation of Scratch into Elementary school curriculum, to promote student engagement, collaboration, critical thinking, etc.

Well, after thinking about some of the trivial goals above and having all that downtime on the train (as many of you sat in airports), I have come up with these three goals for myself:

  1. I’d like to begin playing music – quiet, soothing music, as teachers are involved in hands-on activities in PD events. I saw this two times in different forms at BLC and I think it is rather successful for some learners.
  2. I plan on increasing the amount of time I have PD attendees out of their seats. This may also bring many out of their comfort zones, but so many educators at BLC complimented Liz and I on the fact that we get folks up and around the room, that I’d like to bring this practice into more of my typical PD.
  3. This is the toughest challenge for me. I’m going to ask educators to try some free writing in my sessions. I typically encourage attendees to multitask during a workshop and as we work together, feel free to check e-mail, Facebook, whatever they would typically do while they would use the computer at home. But, during this time, I would encourage attendees to put everything else aside and focus on visualizing our group goal and writing about it.

I took so much away from the four days I spent in Boston. I will be posting more soon, but I figured documenting my goals was a good place to start.