Tagged: twitter

Priceless

Mysterious Globe
'Mysterious Globe, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudhamshu/2991718957/

“Hello World” is a simple game I often play with my 4 year old son (‘Mr 4’). We fire up Twitter, say ‘hello’ from Fremantle, Western Australia, get a globe or an atlas (old school, I know, but it is wonderfully tactile) and wait to see where people are saying hello to us from.

Within minutes, we get at least ten replies. Some come from around the corner, many from around the world. We look each of the places up, we talk about the person who said hello, what language people speak there, what the weather is like there now, time of the day, what sort of things people eat there and so on.

Yesterday, we got replies from Fremantle, Perth, Northam, Sydney, Hobart (Australia), Elgin (Scotland), Birmingham, Leek, Ringwood, London, Lichfield (England), Johannesburg (South Africa) Grand Rapids, Detroit (United States). The range and number of replies depends only on the time of the day we play “Hello World”.

Mr 4 and I love the game.

Now, I am not some pushy parent who wants their child to do things like memorising countries of the world by heart (Mr 4 might do that anyway, whether I want it or not). But I do want my child to see that there is a big, diverse, exciting world out there waiting to be ‘discovered’ today and any other day.

In the parlance of a classic TV ad:

  • Twitter followers: 1378
  • Replies to our “hello”: 14
  • Worlds: 1
  • Sense of wonder about the world: priceless

PS. Dedicated to those who think nurturing connections online with Twitter is a waste of time…

The REAL 140 characters

Welcome to the brand new home of the old ‘Human’! (please adjust your subscription/links details, tell your friends too if you please, thanks).

I am still messing around with layout, pages etc. but all in its good time.

To celebrate the occasion at the end of an amazing year I sat in a pub one long afternoon, racked my brain and came up with a list of people I have either connected with for the first time this year, extended a face-to-face or online relationship in 2009. Symbolically, the list is 140 ‘characters’ long to represent that 2009 was a sort of “The Year of Twitter” for me.

This list is awfully unfair to MANY people whom I don’t mention below but with whom I have learned, laughed, argued, annoyed, had my stuff passed on by (re-tweet) etc over the year. The 140 names below also isn’t some sort of ranking of all-important leaders with thousands of followers (many of these guys have only a handful of followers!). If your name is NOT on the list .. please don’t shoot but let’s strengthen this amazing web of people.

I am going to show this to anyone who doubts ‘social media’ and its potential. This is investing in the best possible resource there is – PEOPLE!

Have a safe and merry Christmas and a great New Year 2010!

And now, my longest ever Christmas card (a #follow2010 of a kind) … Enjoy 🙂

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Mrs Emery connects

This time a guest post by a colleague, Veronica Emery. Mrs Emery

When Tomaz asked me to write this blog entry I thought what I always think when he suggests that I, ‘get online’. Who cares what I think? Why would anyone want to know what I have to say? I thought it when he showed me Facebook, I thought it when he showed me Moodle and I was still thinking it, when he introduced me to Twitter. For a middle aged, computer illiterate teacher, these things seemed like a lot of time and effort with a presumption that total strangers are interested in my life or my ideas. I referred to it as vanity on the net.  But as this is the world which my students inhabit, I was determined to have some form of active participation in it.

So with the encouragement of my good friend, I began to check out my options. Facebook required way too much; uploading of photos, status updates and tracking of so called friends for my skills. Moodle would expose my computer skills to way too much critique from work colleagues and students alike. A blog of my own design, I don’t think so! Twitter?! Now here was something; no uploading, no pressure from live chat, no need for groovy photos and linking to others, only having to think in blocks of 140 characters and a choice as to whom I wish to ‘follow’.  This, I could have a go at.

Once I realised that the only people ‘following’ me, also had a choice, it helped calm my nerves about who would be reading what I had to say and who wouldn’t. So Tomaz helped me to sign up and showed me the basics. This was great. I could read other peoples ‘tweets’ without needing to reply, just think about what they were doing and how they were doing it. Too easy! No pressure and no requirement to put my own doings out there.

After three weeks of voyeuristic cyber life, I got brave enough to take my own groovy photo (just the one), and send out a few tentative ‘tweets’. After six weeks I had found; Barrack Obama, Kevin Rudd and the NASA Mars probe. Hey! Maybe there were some teachers on line as well. Sure enough, some great practitioners doing some really cool things in their classrooms, sharing their ideas and projects with the world. ‘How great is this?!’ I thought. After nine weeks, I read a tweet from Paige who runs a world-wide pen pals program for classrooms. I was curious enough to send my first direct tweet to the person I feared most on the net. A total stranger!!  Before I knew it, we had exchanged lots of information about her pen pal program and the way it operates and I was beginning to get very excited about the possibilities for my own students. Could this be a way to connect my classroom with another classroom on the other side of the world? The potential seemed endless.

Now, some four months after signing onto Twitter, my class and the classes of five colleagues have joined this program and are in touch with classrooms of same aged students in Romania, Hawaii and Canada. For students who have not, on the whole, had the opportunity to travel outside of their own suburb, this contact has provided a chance to connect with real people in real time about the issues, ideas, fears, changes and worries which are universal to all teenagers. I nearly cried when one of my least interested students began asking me for spelling and grammar tips because she didn’t want her new pen friend to think she was a ‘moron’. “Plus we’re probably the first Australians that they’ve met aren’t we Miss?” she said. I agreed that this was probably the case. When she replied “So we best make a good impression huh?!” I think I may have actually shed a tear or two.

So, I’m still no expert but the kids laugh with me rather than at me now, when I ask them questions about computers and the net. The best thing for me at the moment is that I am ‘out there’ and I don’t care what anybody thinks. How cool is that. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Veronica Emery (Teacher, Mother, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer)

Thank you Veronica, great story! If you would like to follow @mrsemery on Twitter – http://twitter.com/mrsemery or drop a comment for her below.

Another Evaluate that! moment…

Mrs Emery connects

This time a guest post by a colleague, Veronica Emery. Mrs Emery

When Tomaz asked me to write this blog entry I thought what I always think when he suggests that I, ‘get online’. Who cares what I think? Why would anyone want to know what I have to say? I thought it when he showed me Facebook, I thought it when he showed me Moodle and I was still thinking it, when he introduced me to Twitter. For a middle aged, computer illiterate teacher, these things seemed like a lot of time and effort with a presumption that total strangers are interested in my life or my ideas. I referred to it as vanity on the net.  But as this is the world which my students inhabit, I was determined to have some form of active participation in it.

So with the encouragement of my good friend, I began to check out my options. Facebook required way too much; uploading of photos, status updates and tracking of so called friends for my skills. Moodle would expose my computer skills to way too much critique from work colleagues and students alike. A blog of my own design, I don’t think so! Twitter?! Now here was something; no uploading, no pressure from live chat, no need for groovy photos and linking to others, only having to think in blocks of 140 characters and a choice as to whom I wish to ‘follow’.  This, I could have a go at.

Once I realised that the only people ‘following’ me, also had a choice, it helped calm my nerves about who would be reading what I had to say and who wouldn’t. So Tomaz helped me to sign up and showed me the basics. This was great. I could read other peoples ‘tweets’ without needing to reply, just think about what they were doing and how they were doing it. Too easy! No pressure and no requirement to put my own doings out there.

After three weeks of voyeuristic cyber life, I got brave enough to take my own groovy photo (just the one), and send out a few tentative ‘tweets’. After six weeks I had found; Barrack Obama, Kevin Rudd and the NASA Mars probe. Hey! Maybe there were some teachers on line as well. Sure enough, some great practitioners doing some really cool things in their classrooms, sharing their ideas and projects with the world. ‘How great is this?!’ I thought. After nine weeks, I read a tweet from Paige who runs a world-wide pen pals program for classrooms. I was curious enough to send my first direct tweet to the person I feared most on the net. A total stranger!!  Before I knew it, we had exchanged lots of information about her pen pal program and the way it operates and I was beginning to get very excited about the possibilities for my own students. Could this be a way to connect my classroom with another classroom on the other side of the world? The potential seemed endless.

Now, some four months after signing onto Twitter, my class and the classes of five colleagues have joined this program and are in touch with classrooms of same aged students in Romania, Hawaii and Canada. For students who have not, on the whole, had the opportunity to travel outside of their own suburb, this contact has provided a chance to connect with real people in real time about the issues, ideas, fears, changes and worries which are universal to all teenagers. I nearly cried when one of my least interested students began asking me for spelling and grammar tips because she didn’t want her new pen friend to think she was a ‘moron’. “Plus we’re probably the first Australians that they’ve met aren’t we Miss?” she said. I agreed that this was probably the case. When she replied “So we best make a good impression huh?!” I think I may have actually shed a tear or two.

So, I’m still no expert but the kids laugh with me rather than at me now, when I ask them questions about computers and the net. The best thing for me at the moment is that I am ‘out there’ and I don’t care what anybody thinks. How cool is that. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Veronica Emery (Teacher, Mother, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer)

Thank you Veronica, great story! If you would like to follow @mrsemery on Twitter – http://twitter.com/mrsemery or drop a comment for her below.

Another Evaluate that! moment…

Evaluate that reality

Tomorrow marks a year since publishing My f*#!%ing goosebump story – the post I still consider my “best ever” (drumroll…ta-daaa!). It has reality, expletives and a message of hope – that one always dies last. As if to mark the occasion, I was involved in a similar incident yesterday. Less violent, more accidental but I did end up on the floor through an action by a Year 9 student in my ‘at-risk’ class (ah, the euphemisms).  Not bad for 198cm [6ft6in] and 100+ kg teacher hey? The student stormed out of class afterwards, staff were sent to look for him, I got checked by admin etc etc. But that is not what is remarkable about this story…

This morning, the student and his classmate partly responsible for the incident, came to our office 10 minutes before the first bell to see me. They looked me in the eye and simply apologised for their actions. Very sincerely and in hushed tones. Nobody sent them to apologise – they came completely on their own steam. For a 14 year old ADHD-diagnosed boy that is huge. The matter ended right there, no further procedures, charges etc. but the feeling of trust between us leapt up a couple of storeys – right there.

The media, politicians and pundits will have you thinking that education is all about ‘improved performance’. One we can declare ‘important’ and measurable. But how do you measure things I have just described above? Things that truly matter to me as a teacher and the student as a growing young man. Will he remember the (failed) test or birth/growth of respect by and for adults in his life?

I sent out a tweet this morning about this little teaching vignette and the response was wonderful. My dear transoceanic colleague Ira Socol (my [co]nspirator in promoting the phrase Evaluate that! – see why) and I simultaneously had an idea – let’s start collecting REAL, insightful moments of teaching and learning NOT measured (even measurable) by school. I started the Twitter tag #evaluatethat , sent out an invitation and provided a few starting examples.

Within just a few minutes, we had half a dozen insightful snaps of reality that make teaching such a human and unbelievably important task! And they keep coming…

Evaluate that 1

And here it is to you, dear reader, and those who you know:

Whether you are a teacher, student, parent, administrator… tell us, in a brief sentence or two, YOUR moments of teaching or learning (yours or someone else’s) that was never formally measured but made an impression on you. These ‘bites’ of reality do not have to be all gloriously positive, the only criteria – true, real and not measured (no hypotheticals please).

We are collecting these via Twitter by using #evaluatethat hashtag in each relevant tweet. This will ensure all of these are kept in one place and can be easily seen by all.

What if I don’t have or want a Twitter account?

That’s fine. If you want one, here is a well-received Twitter Handbook for Teachers that has all you need to get started. If you don’t want to bother with Twitter, just leave a comment below.

Passing this on will make the collection richer for things that matter the most, but you know that already…

To watch a child grow – privilege of a parent. To watch a class grow – privilege of a teacher.

REAL, insightful moments of teaching practice NOT measured by school