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So, why the censor?

After one day of my Sexting, Facebooking and Tweeting seminar, I am shocked and amazed, as I always am, by how astute students are.

We began our discussion by asking, “Why do teachers/adults feel like they need to limit access to devices?” They responded with nice, safe answers like “because they want us to be safe” or “because it’s a distraction.”

After I pushed a little, they hit the heart of the issue with answers like “because they don’t understand how it works” and “because it’s easier to manage.”

All of us are operating under motivations that drive our decisions. Are your decisions and school policies based on ease of operation? Are you making rules based on one or two students who misuse their devices for your whole school?

It’s time to rethink our motivation because like it or not, students understand us much more than we understand them.

How to connect student to student via Twitter

Sometimes, I feel like the conversations about Twitter center around the impact that it can have on professional development too much. I certainly value it for that reason, but I don’t think that students will use it in the same way.

Although I have heard that some teachers are exploring with Twitter in the classroom in ways like back feeding class notes or tweeting as a character from a book, I have not settled on whether these are the best use of the technology. While I can see the benefits, I still think those “integrations” are forced and trite.

Twitter was created with community at the center of purpose.

To connect people.

To connect ideas.

To connect.

So, how can we show students how to connect via Twitter with other students?

Are we connected enough with students to even know where to begin?

Changing Literacy

I just read Princess Academy, a young adult novel, recommended by one of my youth. As a teacher, I read it through different eyes and I was amazed at the way it described literacy development in a mountain village. The desire and passion in one student then transfered to the rest of the village.

Literacy might have changed from the setting of this novel to NCTE definition of 21st century literacties:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies.

Or is it that different?

Does the context change literacy or does literacy shape the social context?

No Quiet Time

A peak inside the life of a teacher:

The reality is that most of us who work in education definitely do not have quiet lives. Depending on the level you teach, you may have a group of students following you down the hallway at any given time. Being an educator is a great way to live life but we are surrounded by students and colleagues during every part of our day.

Most people outside of education do not know what it is like to look at the clock in the morning and hope that you get a chance to run to the bathroom before the bell rings, because if you don’t, you’re just not sure when you’ll make it there. But it’s ok, these are all the issues that come with being an educator and most of us accept it with a positive attitude because this is our chosen profession.

What if we could find professional development where we don’t have to leave the house? No worries about driving directions or meeting our colleagues on time. The biggest traffic issue is when too many people are on the computer at the same time. With all of our daily distractions we do have access to professional development within the comfort of our own homes, and that is through Twitter.

And still in the midst of being surrounded by students, colleagues and administrators demanding decisions and attention, there are educators who are seeking and searching to improve the way they interact in this noisy life.

Pretty amazing when you consider that most of us don’t stop thinking about ourselves throughout the course of a day!

Connecting via Social Media

As Sam Harrelson and I gear up for our presentation on Saturday on Connecting via Social Media, we have both been confronted with the question, “Where do we begin?”

Do we start with the professional benefits that we have both experienced via Social Media? Do we tout the way that connecting to other professionals from across the country has expanded our understanding of educational trends?

Or do we take a different route and talk about the personal benefits that we have found reading blogs that recount other people’s journeys toward self-awareness and fulfilled lives?

I guess we have two days to figure that out!

Come and see what we decide!


It doesn’t matter what I think

If school was like Twitter:

At first, this ideas sounded intriguing. We would get together in random chats, organizing our thoughts and sharing resources according to shared categories that grow organically. I’d have the permission to speak and to listen, engaging strangers at times and somehow making close friendships in the process. When things got too loud, I could move into a one-on-one mode, sharing small direct, personal messages back and forth.  There would be space for deep, conflict-ridden discussions and light-hearted humor.

And then:

I really enjoy Twitter, but I grow professionally from a pint or a cup of coffee or a long hike or a game of catch or a favorite novel or a perplexing historical monograph.

These are interesting thoughts, but I am struck by the fact that as much as teachers complain about politicians making top-down administrations, still we are quick to decide what school should be like.

If we were hold ourselves to same standard that we hold administrators to, we wouldn’t make grand statements about how we learn because honestly it doesn’t matter how we as teachers learn, it matters how students learn.

We have to come to the point where we, as teachers, as adults, stop telling students how to learn or how we learn and start listening to what our students are saying about how they learn. We have to come to the understanding that students may just learn differently than we do or did.

If we can’t get to that point, then we are just going to recreate the schooling experience that worked for us and if we do this, then we are preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.

It doesn’t matter how successful we were. If doesn’t matter what worked for us because public schooling can’t be about us anymore. It has to be student-centered if we have any hope of public schooling surviving for the next five years.

Sneak Peek Inside Roundtable for ASW12

I have been a part of the affiliate marketing network for about 6 months now, but being at Affiliate Summit changes that experience. Now there are faces and stories that literally flesh out twitter handles and blog posts.

This is a community that is always tweaking, always searching, always challenging themselves toward something new.

That community is not only beneficial for the growth of the community, but also individual growth.

What a teacher can do – all a teacher can do – is work with students to create a classroom culture, a climate, a curriculum that will nourish and sustain the fundamental inclinations that everyone starts out with: to make sense of oneself and the world, to become increasingly competent at tasks that are regarded as consequential, to connect with (and express oneself to) other people

But just as the classroom community is being threatened by standardization and impeding legislation, so too is this affiliate community that has been intact for 10 years.

How can we preserve this community?