Tag Archives: Twitter

Building a (Virtual) Learning Community – #T3Learns

Gotta ask…how are you using social media for learning? If you are teaching in isolation, what steps are you taking to build a learning network? What if your peers are all over the world rather than just in your building?

I spent the day facilitating mini-PD session on social media for 20 of my fellow T³ Instructors.  In the planning session, Kevin Spry (@kspry), Dale Philbrick (@dalephilbrick) and I decided to focus on Twitter and blogging.  How might we use social media in our PD sessions with teacher-learners? How might we use social media to enhance our own professional growth, model reflection, and share our learning?

Here’s the plan…but this is not the actual path…

As our friends arrived, we quickly learned that only a few were already using Twitter.  They chose to come to Atlanta today to learn.  Scrap the plan…teach where the learners are.

One of the hallmarks of a learning community is agreeing on and using a common language.  What if we learn by doing?  If you don’t know what @jgough or #T3Learns does for you in a tweet, then today is the day to learn it.  We learned by doing (tweeting), making mistakes and correcting them.

We discussed how to use Twitter to mashup reflection, brain-based learning strategies, and formative assessment and then we practiced.

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Once we’d worked on hashtags and handles, I wanted these learners to tweet pictures.  The TI-Nspire offers learners the opportunity to embed a photo in a graph screen and graph over the image to prototype functions to fit the object.  Just look at the progress made over the short morning timeframe.

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In the afternoon we discussed blogging as a reflection tool and as a communication tool.  If we are working with teachers from all over the country, how do we support their learning after the workshop or institute is over?  What if we learn and share in public? We looked at three examples of how this might look:

What if we modeled reflection and learning by writing one post a week to share an activity that inspired growth and thinking? What if our participants could “dial in” to our thinking and process as the year progresses? What if we share with a wider audience?

So…then we practiced.

If I go back to our original learning plan, we covered everything on the list. We followed the learners to lead them to more understanding and confidence in social media.

Here’s some of the feedback:

[Today] allowed me to explore a new-to-me technology at a relaxed pace, being able to get questions answered, not just see an expert “do their thing.”  So I found out a little about “why I might want to use this” and a lot about “can I personally actually do it?

This opportunity provided the time to explore and practice.  I had tried once before to tweet but did not gain confidence.  I won’t say that I did not have support the first time, but it was not at a time or place where it was easy or convenient to ask for help.  Everyone in attendance at Westminster was so willing to put down their work and assist me with my issues.  That is what I love about good professional learning and collaboration.

I liked the way the day was sculptured to meet the needs of the participants.  Very much like your analogy of the classroom, moving on and “covering” the material does no good if you are leaving many behind.

How might we learn and grow together? What if we leverage social media to communicate and collaborate when we cannot be face-to-face?

CBL PD: Tweet Tweet – All the basics a Twitter Beginner #TrinityLearns #brightspots

For this Wednesday’s Faculty Forum (I want to learn… and I can teach…), I facilitated a workshop on Twitter.  I invited Samantha Steinberg (@spsteinberg), a new-to-Twitter friend and colleague, to guide this learning experience with me.  We had 2 session – 12:30 and 3:30. Our plan was to have a conversation to offer learners opportunities to ask and answer questions.  Before the session, the following email was sent to encourage everyone to have an account and to understand the expected outcomes.  Please notice the I can… statements for our learners.

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As an added bonus, Shelley Paul (@lottascales) joined us for the 3:30 session.  Shelley always adds so much to the conversation and the learning.

Armed with our expected outcomes and the determination to answer questions, we met with teachers choosing to come to this session.

The “I can…” statements for this session are (not limited to)
  • I can send a tweet to highlight a bright spot at Trinity.
  • I can use the #TrinityLearns hashtag.
  • I can use @jgough (or other) to communicate with another educator.

 We started by discussing having a purpose for this type of communication.  We discussed collaborative note taking and crowd sourcing.  We referred to the notes from the sessions with Tony Wagner and Madeline Levine. There were questions about hash tags, adding pictures, and the language and symbols of Twitter.  Awesome!

Samantha’s story of going from 0 to 100+ followers in just a little over 3 weeks answered many questions.  How and why she has connected with authors and other educators shows our community a doable way to become globally connected.

When ready, some of these learners practiced, played, and put the above I can… statements into action as shown below.

Connie’s first tweet should be highlighted because of the traction it had almost immediately.

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Rhonda’s retweet caught the attention of EdTechTeacher Beth Holland. Beth connected Connie’s class to Mrs. Wideen‘s class in Windsor, Ontario. Mrs. Wideen shared her learners’ Padlet about frogs which added to our learning! Awesome! Global connections to learn and share without leaving home.

We issued a challenge:

What if we send 1 tweet tomorrow, using #TrinityLearns, to highlight a bright spot of learning in our community?

What if we tweet bright spots of learning in our community? What if the norm is that we highlight and lift learning?

Tune in at #TrinityLearns to see…

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns – reflection

My session at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta, PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns, went just the way I wanted.  Yay!

This tweet sums it up for me:

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With a quick show of hands, I estimated that 2/3 of participants used Twitter.  Approximately 1/2 labeled themselves as lurkers.  Around 1/5 had never tweeted.  There was a note in the program description.

Note: This session will be interactive, so please have a Twitter client on your iPad and an established Twitter account prior to attending this session. “

I believe about 10 did not have an established account.  All really interesting formative assessment.  I described my conversation with Bo where he challenged me to inspire faculty to use the technology in place – the faculty wanted iPads.  We wanted faculty to use and understand more about non-graded formative assessment.  I mashed up or blended brain research, Twitter, and formative assessment.  I offered a purpose to tweet.

After giving my Ignite talk about this PBL PD for teachers, I challenged the participants to partner up, leave our session to visit another session and tweet using the conference hash tag (#ettipad) and my hash tag (#ettlearns).  Maybe a little fear waved over the 1/3 non-tweeters and lurkers.  Go with a friend; come back in 15 minutes.  We’ll understand hash tags using learning by doing. I explained the risk I was taking.  I’d never sent my participants away, but I am committed to experiential learning.  Everyone got up and left to go observe and tweet.  It was so great until I turned to see an empty room.  Wow! What was I thinking? What had I just done?

They did tweet, and they did come back. Whew!

Here is a compilation of the tweets:

We talked about hash tags and how they can be used.  I answered lots of great questions. We answered lots of questions.  It was awesome! And, the hash tag #ettlearns lives.  Wow!

Learning is reciprocal.

Don’t just absorb; give back.

Learn and share!

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns

Today, I’m presenting at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta.

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research

“Want faculty to engage in a project together? Want faculty to try a non-graded formative assessment technique? Want faculty to investigate a little brain-based research to work on retention of information and learning? Want faculty to learn and explore using social media for learning, communication, and collaboration? Hear one school’s story of such a project that you can implement with learners next week.

Note: This session will be interactive, so please have a Twitter client on your iPad and an established Twitter account prior to attending this session. “

With the mountains of “stuff” our teachers need to learn, practice, and do, how do we get it all accomplished? How can we, the adult-learners, practice and learn while continuing our work? In other words, how do we create PBL experiences for adult-learners that teach through experience and out of isolation?

What if we created a movement to learn more about Twitter and formative assessment while investigating the primacy-recency effect as described in How the Brain Learns by David Sousa?

“This research indicates that there is a higher probability of effective learning taking place if we can keep the learning episodes short and, of course, meaningful. Thus, teaching two 20-minute lessons provides 20 percent more prime-time (approximately 36 minutes) than one 40-minute lesson (approximately 30 minutes). Note, however, that a time period shorter than 20 minutes usually does not give the learner’s brain sufficient time to determine the pattern and organization of the new learning, and is thus of little benefit.”
How the Brain Learns, David A. Sousa

What if we integrate reflection and quick-writes as the down time or cognitive break as the bridge between the 2 prime-time learning episodes? What if we leverage social media – Twitter – to share learning and questions across our school to paint a picture of learning?

Here’s the idea and implementation plan for a 50-60 minute period.

      1. Pause at approximately 18-20 minutes and ask our student-learners to do a quick write about what they are learning or doing in class.  (a form of self-assessment; do I know what I’m supposed to be learning?)
      2. Let learners quickly share what they wrote.  (a form of formative assessment, are they learning what I intend?)
      3. Tweet a summary of what is being learned or done using a common hashtag. (this models using social media for learning)
      4. Follow the tweets from this hashtag to be more informed about each other and what we are learning/doing in class to possibly find curricular connections and common ground.

What if we check for understanding 20 minutes into class and let this check inform our practices for the rest of the learning time – the 2nd prime-time interval?

Many teachers can’t find purpose for Twitter.  It is too much information, or they feel they have to be connected all of the time.  What if we change that? What if we use Twitter as a communication, learning, and celebration tool? (I think Grant’s post last weekend supports this and the need to change.)

I’m going to try something different in this session.  I’m going to ask the participants to practice, to go on a learning walk and tweet and then come back and analyze the results.  Experiential learning rather than sit-n-get. (We are going to use #ettLearns in addition to #ettiPad.)

Keep your fingers crossed!


For reflections and artifacts of learning about this PBL PD experiment, read more.

Social media and my family

I’ve had an interesting week with social media and my family.  My 7-year-old, AS, and I were talking on our drive home from school last Thursday.  She was reviewing her spelling list with me.  I asked her if she would like for us to write a story that uses all of her spelling words.  No kidding…Her response was “will we write it on my blog or on paper, Mommy?”

Will we write it on my blog or on paper, Mommy??????

So I asked what would be her preference, and she said “well, I’d like to write it on paper first, and then will you let me type it in my blog?”

We started AS’s blog last Christmas while at my mom’s house.  We went to the zoo in Hattiesburg, MS, and AS took photos with her digital camera.  Her photos are posted on her blog with a sentence about each animal.  There is an audio clip of her talking about being at the zoo.  This audio clip took about a dozen attempts before she said “this is Sunshine” instead of her name.  We had to practice, but the practice stuck.

Last May, AS produced a video interview introducing us to her friend Mittens.  (All by herself with no “teaching” from an adult.)  She asked me to publish it on the Internet.  You can tell she’s been watching iCarly.

She explained to me that she had to make the video 4 times because she kept saying her name rather than Sunshine.  I’ve posted two of the prototypes.

AS is growing up learning about managing her digital presence and publishing her work and learning to a public audience.  She has parents who use social media to work and learn.

In contrast, I discovered my 17-year-old niece’s twitter feed this past week.  I was not searching for it; it popped up in the “Who to follow” pane.  JL, my niece, is clearly very frustrated with her family – a completely typical, age-appropriate reaction.  She feels grown-up but has to abide by the rules of the family.   But does the world need to know this?  So I called and asked if she knew I was following her on Twitter.  I asked about some of her tweets.  She asked if she could call me back.  Smart.  She needed to review what she had written in public.

She did call back.  It was not a pleasant conversation.  I have never had a sharp word ever with this child.  I asked if she would say to me what she was saying on Twitter.  Her response was an angry “I was not talking to you, Aunt Jill!”  Using a very direct tone, I explained to this sweet uninformed child that in fact she was talking to me and anyone else that followed her.  And, if I chose to retweet what she posted, she was talking to each of my 300 followers.

JL’s parents use social media to an extent.  They have Facebook pages and connect with their family and friends to share photos, information, and stories.  Are they “friends” with their child?  Their initial reaction was to ban her from using Twitter.  Through a series of questions, I coached them to consider if that was the best solution.

Do we help our children navigate through difficult situations, or do we leave them to fend for themselves? Do we want them to learn experientially with and from their X-year-old friends?  Do we want our children to learn with and from their family and other significant adults?  How can we guide them to becoming literate, responsible citizens?  How are we doing educating ourselves?

We teach our children not to touch the stove, because it might burn them.  We don’t keep them out of the kitchen. And, if they touch the stove, we comfort them.  We help them fix it, learn from it, and feel better.

Tearing Down Walls

We live in an increasingly connected world. Yet barriers to connection continue to operate in schools. Kathy Boles at Harvard has described school as the egg-crate culture. With some exceptions, teaching can be an isolated and isolating profession, unless teachers and administrators work to be connected to other learners. It is far too easy to go into one’s classroom and teach…relatively alone…siloed. Classes right next door to each other, much less across a building or campus, often have no idea what is going on outside the four walls in which they are contained. And departmentalization makes for an efficient way to deliver content in neat, organized packages, but departmentalization is not the best parrot of the real, inter-connected, messy-problem world.

What can we do to step closer to modeling and experiencing real, inter-connected problem-addressing?  How do we communicate with each other when we are assigned classrooms where we can be siloed?  What could greater connectivity look like for learners of all ages?

Recently, learning partners Jill Gough and Bo Adams submitted a roughly made prototype of a three-minute video to apply for a speakers spot at TEDxSFED. It’s about “Tearing Down Walls.” It’s about experiments in learning by doing. It’s about learning.

Students Request Common Formative Assessment

I remember making a note to self about coming to office hours that afternoon. After thinking for a few minutes about my question, I decided to ask here in class instead of waiting until office hours. Hearing the “oohhs!” of my classmates, I was relieved to hear some of my peers had the same question.
MC (from the 2/8/11 journal)

The opportunities to reflect and ask questions are incredibly important.  How often do our learners leave class without asking their question?  For whatever reason, questions go unasked and unanswered. From our friend, Grant Lichtman, we embrace the idea from The Art of Questioning chapter in The Falconer: What we wished we had learned in school

 “Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom.”

Have we ever stopped to ask “What do you need or what would you like to learn or work on tomorrow?”  If we want more student-directed learning, wouldn’t a great first step be to involve them in the planning of tomorrow’s lessons?

Yesterday, I sent out a #20minwms tweet at the 2o minute mark in class, but I also used exit cards as an additional opportunity for my learners to help inform our next steps in their learning.  I chose 4 to tweet as evidence of learning from class.  These learners from Algebra I said:

If you read my previous post, you will share in my excitement for GW.  I was very pleased with the notes and ideas on all of their exit card.  Then on my way to dinner, one of my Synergy 8 learners asked a great question.

I explained my version of the day’s exit card and the following conversation happened.  To be clear, @TaraWestminster and @fencersz are two of our Synergy 8 learners while @bcgymdad and @danelled111 are my teammates.


While I’ve been considering how to promote more student-directed learning for quite some time, I have to admit that I have never considered student-directed common formative assessment.  Isn’t it great that these two bright young learners feel they have a voice in their learning and assessment?  Won’t you join me in applauding their advocacy for themselves and other learners?  Doesn’t this show that we are a community of learners?  We learn from each other; we focus on learning and questioning. 

It is about lifelong learning!   


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.
     New York: IUniverse, 2008. 35. Print. 

Social Media Experiment: My Learning, Growth, and Practice

From the ropes course one of our learners said they learned

This week JB and I conducted a couple of Lunch and Learn sessions on Twitter for our colleagues.  It was said, “Well, I’m set up.  Don’t know how I’ll use it, but at least I have an account now.” 

I heard Dr. JoAnn Deak speak about learning at the Atlanta Girls School.  Isn’t the challenge to learn by doing?  Will a teacher-learner ever know how they will use any teachnology until they do rather than talk or listen?

“A good teacher must be able to put himself in the place of those who find learning hard.” – Eliphas Levi

I think BenSteele2704 knocked it out of the park with this tweet.  We must experiment to learn just like our students.  We must practice to finding understanding and relevance. 

I posted how one of our learners uses Twitter.  I want to share how I use Twitter to:

  1. learn from and think with others.
  2. capture thoughts and things to consider. 
  3. connect ideas and learning.
  4. practice learning new things.

Here are examples:

The Lovett School announced Dr. Michael Gurian’s talk on How Boys and Girls Learn Differently.  Our CFT Faculty Cohort attended as a team. 

Our professional development day on January 3 was a shared day with our colleagues at Drew Charter School.  Formative assessment and problem-based learning was the focus.  We have been using Rick Stiggins book in our Assessment Study Group, and I have been a fan of Frank Pajares for several years.  See how these ideas connected for me:

Carol Ann Tomlinson at the Learning Forward conference helped me connect formative assessment with differentiated instruction, the primacy-recency research from Dr. Sousa, and our faculty assessment plan.These are just a few ideas on how to use Twitter for learning.  Just read the #20minwms tweets to see how our team of learners is using tweets to

  1. learn from and think with others.
  2. capture thoughts and things to consider. 
  3. connect ideas and learning.
  4. practice learning new things.

Are we brave enough to take the first step?  Are we willing to reach out a hand to help?  Are we willing to water our learning garden for a month to see what grows?  Are we willing to learn by doing?

Social Media Experiment: Student Learning, Growth, and Practice

From RunningWitty, one of our learners, via email:

Dear Ms. G,

     I have loved the 20 minute tweeting experience. It is really cool to be able to record thoughts about what you are learning and comment on other people’s thoughts. I have learned that connections can be made very well after a specific 20 minute period. I get to learn really interesting stuff from classes I am not even in as well as ask questions about information I never would have learned otherwise. The experience has made me critically think about what I am learning; reflecting has helped “stuff” to stick in my brain better.Thank you for initiating this awesome experiment!

The tweeting experience has enhanced my learning in two ways

1) I get to learn really interesting stuff from classes I am not even in as well as ask questions about information I never would have learned otherwise.

2) The experience has made me critically think about what I am learning; reflecting has helped “stuff” to stick in my brain better.
Thank you for initiating this awesome experiment! 

This week JB and I conducted a couple of Lunch and Learn sessions on Twitter for our colleagues.  It was said, “Well, I’m set up.  Don’t know how I’ll use it, but at least I have an account now.”  I’d like to answer the questions “how am I going to use it?” by showing the development and growth of one young learner. 

I thought it might be interesting to chart the growth and learning to use Twitter from the beginning (September 14, 2010) to now (February 4, 2011) of one learner, RunningWitty.  As of right this minute, RunningWitty has 230 tweets under his belt.  He began his tweeting as a guest blogger at TEDxAtl on September 14, 2010.  Thanks to our friend and colleague, @Deacs84, he got off to a great, smart start. 

Below is a small representation of his growth and learning to use social media for learning.  I’ve taken slices of his tweets from each month.  You can decide how much you think he has learned and grown.  He and I agree that his learning has been enhanced.  Do you think he is a global learner optimizing his digital lifestyle to have limitless opportunities to collaborate, create, and connect?  I do. 

September 2010

October 2010 

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011


February 2011

Worth repeating:

The tweeting experience has enhanced my learning in two ways

1) I get to learn really interesting stuff from classes I am not even in as well as ask questions about information I never would have learned otherwise

2) the experience has made me critically think about what I am learning; reflecting has helped “stuff” to stick in my brain better.