How Can We Help?

The "Fail Whale" made an appearance at the #140conf meetup

It was the last question asked from the audience at the #140conf meetup at the New York Times building yesterday in Manhattan. Just over 70 social media gurus gathered to listen to three members of the NY Times team speak and then a panel of educators (of which I was honored to participate in) moderated by Parentella.com founder Aparna Vashisht.  Liz Pullen, Deven Black and I fielded questions regarding how Twitter was being used by educators for professional development, with students, and as a social networking tool in education.

Here’s a link to the  Ustreamed recording of the panel if you are interested in listening/viewing the discussion that Aparna moderated. I think that many in  the audience were surprised at just how networked teachers CAN be. So I think that when Chris Kieff closed the conversation that evening with “How can we help?” we were right to answer with Donors Choose and to just continue supporting educators as professionals.

7 Steps to a Twitter MakeOver

TwitterMakeover

If this visual looks familiar to you then you are
either in need of a Twitter Makeover or know someone who is.

There are ten items that people might look at when they check out your Twitter page to decide if they want to include you in their personal learning network (PLN).

1. Don’t go with the default Twitter background. I’m not saying you have to go and upload a background from Twitterbackgrounds.com, but at the very least, click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Design tab and then select from one of the preset Themes. Click “save changes” and you will have a nice new background for your Twitter home page.

2. We know the Twitter bird is cute and that it comes in several different colors, but nothing says you are a Twitter newbie more than the Twitter default avatar. All you need to do is have a picture saved somewhere. It can be on your hard drive, it can be on your shared drive or a thumb drive. It can even be on a photo CD. You just need a picture of SOMETHING. Then click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Picture tab and then click on the Browse button. Locate the picture that you want to use and then click the Open button. Click Save and you are all set with a personalized avatar.

3. What goes under your name in the top, right-hand corner on your Twitter page, is your location. You need to let folks know where you are. What country is a great start. The more specific you are, the better. To fill out your location, go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down for the Location slot. You will answer the question “Where in the world are you?”.

4. Underneath your location will be your “one line bio”. This is so important as this is going to be where you will indicate that you are an educator. If you do not fill this information out, most educators will not follow you. Actually, most educators are looking to see in what area of education you teach. Be as specific as you can. To fill out your “one line bio” go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down. Twitter allows you up to 160 characters for this.

5. Tweet something interesting. Are you looking to develop a reciprocal relationship or are you looking to lurk? If you are looking to lurk, you can actually just use Twitter Search and you don’t have to sign up for a Twitter account. But if you are looking to develop a PLN in the Twitterverse, then you have to start contributing. Tweeting that you are “sitting in a workshop” or “trying out Twitter” isn’t really a productive contribution. You might want to consider Tweeting something that you have recently bookmarked or seen someone else Tweet. Also, you can Tweet the URL to a website that you have used with your students or colleagues and say why you used it.

6. Find people to follow. The people that you follow tells a lot about what you are interested in. Your potential Followers may scan the list to get an idea of what you are interested in. Consider using the following sites to help you find other educators to follow:

7. Don’t protect your updates. If you do this, potential followers can’t see who you are.  This is what you look like to them and as someone new to Twitter it says you are not looking to be a part of a reciprocal relationship.

protectedWell, I was going to write up a list of 10 steps, but it turns out it only takes 7. I met with most of the teachers from the Center‘s 21st Century Learning Initiative for a second time this past week after having them use Twitter and Diigo for about a month and decided that we would do “Twitter Makeovers” on many of them. What a great group of educators willing to try new tools to learn and share!!

New Jersey is “In Tune” With Technology

conflogo2009

Tomorrow, October 13, the NJ Association for Educational Technology (NJAET) will hold it’s 22nd Annual Conference. Their theme this year, “In Tune with Technology” has led to some great session descriptions and I’m really looking forward to networking with the presenters (I’ve listed some of the sessions below).

I have two sessions to present tomorrow; one presentation style and one conversation / hands-on style. I’ve embedded the decks below and I’ll be Tweeting using the hashtag #NJAET09 if you want to follow along with me and anyone else who may be Tweeting from there as well.

“In Tune” with the 21st Century Student

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

We have a framework for teaching students in the 21st Century. We’ve been told to combine skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies, but how do we, as educators, help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st Century? Join us in a discussion to learn more about how we can address the needs of our networked students.



“In Tune” with Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

Are you on Twitter or Plurk, have a Diigo or Delicious account set up already – but you are just not sure where to head next? Join us as we tap into the collective intelligence of the group to find information and support our network both online and off. Whether your PLN is overflowing or just starting to grow, this workshop will help you to mine your network to best suit your needs. Bring your big ideas, your hopes and your dreams and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

“In Tune” Tech Tips to Create Activities for Community Interaction

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Ted Krulikowski
, Director, HELM Education Foundation

Explore ways students can participate in various community service projects using technology as a catalyst. Projects range from senior computing classes to interacting with community organizations and civic committees. Many school/community activities will be discussed and demonstrated.

“In Tune” with Centers from Heaven (K-5)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Are you trying to develop centers for your classroom? Do you have at least one computer center?  Then this is the class for you. Using the FREE site, Thinkfinity, you will leave this workshop with interactive sites, lesson plans and ideas. This workshop will help you with every curriculum you teach now and in your future.

“In Tune” with Concept Mapping for the 21st Century Classroom

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Alexis K. Morgan
, Teacher/Special Needs Teacher, Camden City School District

From Shakespeare to science, Kidspiration and Inspiration can help students plan, research, collaborate and complete projects successfully. Learn ways to meet the diverse needs of students that allow them to organize and represent complex information in meaningful ways. Participants will also view the many uses of InspireData, an important tool used to develop analytical skills and strengthen critical thinking.

“In Tune” with Creative Expression through Digital Storytelling

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Dr. Nancy Sardone
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Rediscover the art of storytelling using today’s digital tools. Digital storytelling is a tool to promote the development of digital and media literacy as well as the traditional literacies of reading, writing, speaking, and art that are foundational to all content areas. Learn the effective principles of storytelling, how to use (free) Windows-based Photo Story 3 software and digital media production techniques so you can guide students in their own creative expression.

“In Tune” with Digital Storytelling in the Elementary Classroom


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Susan Wahling
, ESL Teacher K-6, Westwood Regional School District

Discover Digital Storytelling, an exciting way for students and teachers to create their own stories, combining images, voice, sound effects and music. Especially powerful with ESL students, Digital Storytelling is an immensely creative tool that can be used with students of all ages.

“In Tune” with Lesson Plans that Rock (PK-8)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Looking for FREE, innovative and interactive teaching materials aligned to NJ standards? Thinkfinity is a FREE educational resource. Bring your curriculum topics and leave with weeks of activities (paper and interactive) and resources to enhance every aspect of your classroom. Begin that new unit with lessons that rock.

“In Tune” with SMART Boards and Digital Learning

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Andrew Grefig
, Instructional Technologist, Tequipment, Inc.

This interactive session will focus on how to create engaging activities with the SMART Notebook software. We will explore how rich media, movement, color, animation, drag and drop activities and immediate feedback can be used to increase student engagement in a variety of subject areas.

“In Tune” with Technology: Media to Teach Reading


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Dr. Christine Davis
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Explore well-designed online resources and streaming video clips of master teachers modeling essential reading skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. See the value of using online media materials to personalize and support professional development. Participants will be “in tune” with a wealth of technology-based teacher development resources to teach reading.

“In Tune” with the Fundamentals of Wikis, Blogs and Podcasts

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Ryan Evans
, Technology Teacher, Wanaque Borough Public Schools

The array of wiki farms, blogware and podcasting software can often appear intimidating and overwhelming. Take an analytical journey in the creation of wikis, blogs and podcasts. The focus will be on evaluating the major hosts and software, getting started (creating, designing and maintaining), adding users or inviting members, concerns about security and privacy, and practical applications for the classroom.

Get “In Tune” with Music Videos


Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Heather Sullivan
, Technology Facilitator, Freehold Regional HSD

Animoto is a FREE web tool that helps you (and your students) make music videos in just a few simple steps. Discover how you can use this awesome and EASY tool in your classroom.

Google Sketchup: “In Tune” with Math

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carla Hockenbury
, Computer Facilitator, Wm. Davies School

This is your chance for an opportunity to explore the basics of Google SketchUp and how it can be applied in your classroom. The program is especially “in tune” with math but also can be used in other subject areas. Google SketchUp is a free download from Google, which can be used alone or with Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse.

Preparations for an Online Social Networking Safety Seminar

I agree with Chad Lehman’s post earlier this week that it’s helpful to be able to connect with the author of an article or blog post. Chad was nice enough to include me with the list of bloggers from Tech&Learning where I recently starting blogging every couple of weeks. As many of our PLNs have grown exponentially, I have truly benefited from the face-to-face connections that I have made as a result of  connections first initiated via Twitter or Diigo. Actually, I remember meeting up with Chad (@imcguy) in Second Life via a Tweet of his many, many months ago.

I decided a while back to use the “Lists” feature in Diigo to gather resources for a seminar that is tonight. The Online Social Networking Safety Seminar is being held at one of the local YMCA’s near me. I knew that many in my PLN had spoken on the topic before, so as I added resources to my list, I also began reading what they had posted on the topic. Here is some of what I found:

Jeff Utecht who blogs at TheThinkingStick had already prepared a workshop for parents and posted the information to his blog. I really liked the questions he suggested that parents ask their children.

  1. What do you think this pictures says about you?
  2. Do you know all (number of friends) of your ‘friends’?
  3. Can you trust everyone on your ‘friends’ list not to download that picture?
  4. What does that update say about you as a person?
  5. Is that who you want to be known as?

BJ Fogg who runs FacebookForParents.org also had a nice list of suggestions. BJ’s list was about signing up for Facebook. I’ll also be sharing this in the seminar tonight.

  1. Join Facebook.
  2. “Friend” your kids.
  3. Review your kids’ profile pages.
  4. Review who is “friends” with your kids.
  5. Select “More About” for your kids.

Dean Shareski who blogs at IdeasandThoughts.org has passionately posted on the topic many times. His posts led me to some extremely relevant research. It’s worth a read (Dean’s posts and the research).

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you might remember the day when I was looking for videos. I’ll be sharing three during the seminar. One is just for fun. You might be able to guess which one 🙂

  1. Social Media Revolution
  2. Facebook Manners and You
  3. The Facebook Song

Lastly, here’s my presentation. I tried to predict what folks might ask. There’s seating for 300. It’s bring-your-own-laptop. I was told to expect approximately 40 parents. I don’t really know what to expect. I’m sure I could have prepared differently, more, better, etc. But I thought I would share it with you.

Spontaneous Professional Development

I’m not quite sure where I first heard the term. It might have been back in May when I read Wes Fryer’s post about The Importance of Online detailedstatemapofnewjegm6Professional Development or in the Blogger’s Cafe at NECC when talking with Dean Shareski and Scott McLeod about how to encourage teachers to reach out to their network’s for information and assistance.

I rather like the term though. It speaks to me. Isn’t this what Twitter is to so many of us? I know what you are thinking. “Lisa is blogging about Twitter again?” Well, I was on a Google kick for a while and now it looks as if my focus has shifted to professional development as for the next three Tuesdays I will be keynoting for the New Jersey Education Association‘s (NJEA) Technology Institutes. Obviously all the presentations will focus on educational technology.

July 7, 2009 – Spontaneous Professional Development (through Twitter)

July 14, 2009 – Portability and Powerful Learning Tools

July 21, 2009 – The 21st Century Classroom and the Networked Student

I’ve set aside a section on my wiki for the slide decks and resources I’ll be sharing and I will be embedding the UStreams there as well. I’ve established #NJEA as the Twitter hashtag already as last night I asked Twitterers to share some resources with the NJEA attendees using #NJEA.

Please consider joining the UStream on any or all of these Tuesday mornings at 9:15AM EST. I truly feel these New Jersey educators would benefit from your take on spontaneous professional development and how you’ve benefited from your personal learning network through Twitter. Tweet a link using the #NJEA hashtag, leave a comment here, join us in the UStream.

Thanks for your support. –Lisa

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