Twitter Tuesday: Mine, Now Yours

Last week, I received an email from a teacher, Robert from California, inquiring about a learning strategy I employed, Twitter Tuesday, which he read about in a blog post.  He was looking to adapt the strategy for his own AP US Government class and emailed me for additional information.  I was very excited to share with him and thrilled that he journeyed 3,000 miles across cyberspace to connect.  My excitement waned when I realized something.

I had nothing really to share.

Twitter Tuesday, although time tested, battle scarred and presented to death by me at conferences, was never formalized.  I had it down pat somewhere in my mental filing cabinet.  I never fleshed out on paper.   Why would I?  I knew it cold.  It was mine.

How selfish.

So, here it is so it can be someone else’s.  It can be used by Robert from California.  It can be used from “sea to shining sea” for that matter.  Tweet away, world.  Here it is, Twitter Tuesday:

1)      Spend one-two lessons teaching digital citizenship.

2)      Distribute parent permission forms.  Allow students to opt out, if necessary.  Any Tweets can be submitted via other mediums.

3)      Supervise creation of student Twitter accounts.  This promotes a focused account for course content.

4)      Facilitate discussion that establishes “class norms” for Twitter Tuesday.  Can Tweets be humorous?   Yes, but not inappropriate.  Can there be interaction with classmates on Twitter?  Yes, but focus on course.  Can we engage others in the Twitterverse?  Yes, but…  Political candidate or journalist, yes.  Random stranger, no.  Include parents in this conversation.  What is our hash tag?   Our hashtag usually is #arapgov15 (last two numbers as year).

5)      Encourage students to follow each other, follow their teacher, and follow at least ten political personalities or news organizations.  Facilitate discussion about “following.”  Link “following” to connecting, engaging, learning, sharing.  The world is bigger than our own school, neighborhood, city, state, country.

6)      When Tuesday arrives, the teacher tweets out an appropriate prompt linked to course content or contemporary political event.  Students respond to the prompt with the appropriate hashtag.  Later this evolves so students respond to one another.  This exercise is a warm up that lasts no longer than ten-fifteen minutes.

7)      Teacher assesses student tweets as a participatory grade.  The value is being engaged in the conversation, not racking up points on the report card.

8)      Teacher also needs to search the hash tag during the week to feature other tweets.  As the exercise evolves, students will treat every day as Twitter Tuesday.  Their contributions should be valuable parts of the conversation, even when they are not formally assessed as grades.

9)      Celebrate student tweets!  Many will use this to discuss the course and the events of the day on their own time.  Celebrate active citizens.  Use these tweets as teachable moments.

A Happy Accident

As a lifelong student of history, I am well-aware that the world is full of examples of well-intentioned folks searching for one thing initially and then uncovering something entirely different,  though impactful, nonetheless.

Whether it was Christopher Columbus or Alexander Fleming or Jamie Link, these potential misadventures have changed the world forever.

When I ventured into my Connected Coaching journey nine weeks ago, for me, it was all about the “coaching” piece.  I wanted to learn all I could about improving my coaching skills.  I knew that investment of time for coaching would be a challenge and I wanted to conquer that mountain.  Right away, I embraced with enthusiasm important concepts like appreciative inquiry and empathy, questioning and mindfulness.  I enjoyed many “wanderings” along the way.  I even managed to do some meaningful reflection.  I felt like I was well on my way to becoming a successful coach.

Victory.  But there was more…

As I took my first steps along my journey, I never gave “connected” a second thought.

Heck, I was already “connected.”

After all, I had a Twitter account.  I use Web 2.0 tools in my classroom all the time. I’ve dabbled in Diigo and Delicious.  I am a PLP Peep.  I have over 400 Facebook friends.  I use my Google Reader.  I place Skype calls.  I know how to smile at someone on Elluminate.  I have had meaningful conversations, both online and face-to-face, with the captains of connectivity, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson. I read The Connected Educator by Sheryl (yes, I call her Sheryl because I’m “connected”) and Lani Ritter Hall. I attended EduCon.  Three times.  Once in a while, I even post on my blog, and, yes, it’s a pro account.

How much more connected can I get?

Much more, in fact.

Being connected goes beyond using the tools.  Being connected is also about relationships.  It’s about leveraging these relationships to enhance your learning and your deep reflections.  It’s about a baseball fan in Minnesota livingin China who gives who you an “a-ha” moment that makes you sit up straight in your bed in the middle of the night.  It’s about “happy grams” from Virginia and affirmations from Kansas.  It’s about celebrating successful students in Alabama.  It’s about garnering pearls of
wisdom from Texas to Norway to Denmark and points in between.  It’s about hearing the familiar echoes of parenting emanating from Canada.  It’s about a compassionate educator from Ohio who shared the tragedy that beset her community school and made you feel the hope in the healing.  It’s being stretched to places in your mind you never knew you could reach by supportive colleagues from across the globe.  It’s about knowing that your next Tuesday night will be drastically different than the nine that preceded it.

So, to my Tuesday night colleagues, thanks for sharing this journey with me.  Thanks for making mestretch, allowing me to grow, and allowing me to aspire toward this “happy accident” of connectivity.  You have changed my world forever.