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.

Twitter Tuesday: Students Finding Their Voice

In case you don’t know this already, today is Tuesday.  Twitter Tuesday, that is.

In our AP United States Government and Politics class, also known as #arapgov12, every Tuesday is Twitter Tuesday.

Every Tuesday, at the beginning of class, the students Tweet in response to a prompt.  It’s the warm up assignment, but really it’s much more than that.

It’s about students finding their voice online.  Students who find a voice that is public and transparent.  Students who grow in confidence to us that voice again and again and again.

At times, I hear people lament about the “youth of today.”  Apathetic. Lazy.  Selfish.  Inappropriate. Self-interested.  I hear that lament, but I respectfully disagree.   To those who worry about the youth of today, I invite them to follow the conversations generated by #arapgov12.

In these conversations, I see students who are finding their voice.  I see students who care.  I see students who get involved in the conversation.  I see students who are far from perfect but who are eager to contribute.  I see students who have a sense of humor and know how to use it (most of the time).  I see students who are Tweeting seven days a week, not just on Tuesday.  I see hope.

In an age where social media use by our young is pervasive and growing, why not use a medium like Twitter to grow positive student involvement online?  Why not help our students build their digital footprint?  Instead of blasting the web as a cultural wasteland, why not direct students in a way that provides genuine and real contributions to the conversation?   If this where our students are anyway, let’s show the way.

It’s Twitter Tuesday, after all.

Dusting Off My Google Reader

     Like an old college textbook, my Google Reader has been left on the shelf to gather dust.

     Not a lot of dust, but dust nonetheless.

     Why did this important piece of Web 2.0 technology get cast aside into the dustbin of cyberspace?

      Blame it on Twitter.

      My use of Twitter to expand my learning network pushed my Google Reader out of the way like a Slinky on December 26 or a Betamax.  All of the bloggers I followed were Tweeting their little hearts out and when I need more information, I relied on the good old fashion favorite bar or (gasp) I even just typed out the URL.  Actually, I was happy, or, better put, I didn’t know what I was missing.

     As part of the PLP Pregame activity, I dusted off my Google Reader.  What a happy reunion it was!  There was my news feed, rolling down the page in an organized manner.  There were my hand-picked bloggers, busting out tomes that were over 140 characters!  I immediately felt guilty for cheating on my G-Reader.

     Here’s a thought: my Google Reader can complement Twitter.  Both can complement the other to create something more exciting, a happy accident, like chocolate and peanut butter.  So Google Reader, I pledge to never shelve you again.  I pledge to use to enhance my PLN.  I pledge to not cast you aside like a busted Slinky.