May 30, 2008

On teaching cool…

Some twitter folks may of followed bits of this scenario if they had been on twitter at all yesterday. If not, try to follow along. Here is how it started…

In that third tweet, I shouldn’t have used the typical teacher talk to refer to the classroom conversation as a ‘lesson’. For this post I will save you the details about the ‘conversation’/'learning experience’/'time together’, but I suspect bits and pieces will come out as I share my perspective.

Anyway, this tweet triggered a few replies. Through the early evening, we threw a few tweets back and forth. Eventually, I picked up a short conversation with @mindelei (that is the only name I know know her by.) As a brand new teacher, I like following and tweeting with Mindelei, because she is a pre-service teacher and writes well. We shared meaningful discussion and questioning on teaching about the ‘idea of cool’.

I claimed that it is important to discuss ‘cool’ with students. That everyone has their own unique sense of ‘cool’. Referring to the students, I tweeted about coolness as part of one’s ‘self’. Everyone is cool in some way. I tweeted about modeling ‘cool’ and that students are shown many examples when we teach about hero’s, share best practices and point out ‘cool’ acts.

I wrote that, too often ‘cool’ equates with ‘popular’ and that is false. Coolness is not about social hierarchy at all. It is about strong values/morals/ethics, neat interests, talents, being real. To me it is about being calm, collected and with ‘it’. Again, this is my perception of the concept, if you don’t agree please share. I know this is not the general perception of cool.

Mindelei and I ended up seeing eye-to-eye, I think, and we concluded that the debate we were having was moot as it was hinging on semantics. I have invited her to follow this blog post to discuss further, if she wants.

Whoohoo, success. Learning is awesome! Thanks for making the connection between us Twitter! That is what these social tools are about.

But wait… it is not over.

I came across another recent follower that had a perspective to share. Unfortunately, he was critical of our discussion and tweeted without the @thekyleguy pre-fix to notify me of his issue with the discussion. I was taken back by these public tweets as they insulted my character and incited some further reflection. After a hike to clear my mind, I decided that blogging this to wider forum would create a learning experience. Bringing this issue to light here, ignites the topic of practicing digital citizenship and courtesy. I will share this followers’ perspective and subsequent questions that I am left with.

(Update: Chad admitted he may of mis-understood the discussion tweets and apologized through direct message this morning. I have accepted his apology but feel as though this scenario raises too many valuable topics that do not get discussed enough.)

I have copied & pasted a screenshot of Chad’s tweets from last night. Start with the tweet at the bottom.

Please, keep in mind these tweets on their own are out of context. We don’t know which which part of the discussion @cbrannon started reading my tweets. I want to learn more from this. We need to discuss further. As a sub, I want to learn about being a ‘real’ teacher. Assist me with these issues so I can carry myself better when I enter the classroom and the staffroom.

Often twitter is described as a large virtual staffroom where teachers from all over the world gather to share resources and talk. The problem here is that these patronizing tweets were shouted without direction to the whole staffroom, rather than being whispered about privately as they would likely be in a real staffroom. I come to the virtual staffroom to reflect upon and to question teaching practice and pedagogy, both my own and that of others whom I learn from.

I welcome criticism and questioning of my idea’s and thoughts, in fact I am always calling for honesty and feedback. Usually, I defend my stance or learn from the questioning perspective. In this instance, I don’t feel as though I need to defend myself against Chad’s tweets because we have determined that he mis-understood the discussion. I am, however, interested in the definition of ‘real’ teacher, the manner with which this issue has been raised, and thoughts on discussing the idea of ‘cool’ with students.


Readers, I now pose the hard questions to you.

Is being ‘cool’ important to students?

Should ‘real’ teachers and students talk about the ‘idea of cool’?

Why hasn’t @cbrannon heard ‘real’ teachers talking about it?

Do you talk to kids about being cool, about bringing out their passions?

Isn’t this opportunity for authentic learning experiences?

Are substitutes, ‘real teachers’?

What is your idea of ‘cool’?

and on a personal note, do I come off as an “expert without experience”?

*You can follow all of my twitter conversations in my archive.

May 23, 2008

Guy and the Kid

Filed under: digital citizenship,online media,story,twitter @ 1:40 am and tagged

As I scanned twitter tonight, I watched as Guy Kawasaki aka. @guykawasaki, the man behind Alltop & Truemors, blew off a request for a website review.

Typical, right?

Who can blame the man, he probably gets spammed with these type of requests all the time. But, I followed this request by @ashvala, who turned out to be a 13 year old, grade 9 student from Bangalore. His site looks sharp and is well designed.

After reading Ashvala’s Bio, I decided to use twitter persuasion to convince Guy Kawasaki to give it a glance. Within a minute he did and tweeted back feedback to the young “techie who loves gadgets and enjoys reviewing them.”

In the end Ashvala received a little feedback & a pat on the back from one of the biggest names on the web. Happy ending to a short story.

This is another demonstration of the power of twitter to connect people. On twitter people become a little more equal. Kudos to Guy for stepping up.

January 9, 2008

Collaborative Book Review & Sharing

Filed under: books,network,twitter @ 4:14 pm and tagged , , , ,

I can’t afford books. I live the life of a student. I read what is published online but often like to sit in a comfy chair to read from paper. So I visited the library. Now I am reading two insightful, opininated books Wikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams and The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen. Wikinomics takes the leftist view, Cult of the Amateur the right. I can relate to very well to the arguments of both books and look forward to reading them this afternoon.

I wanted others opinions on these books, so I sent a shout out via Twitter.


Here was some of the feedback from two edubloggers that I follow and who’s opinions I definitely respect.

That is not where this sharing ended. While searching for more info on both books I came across Lawerence Lessig’s critique of Andrew Keen’s, Cult of the Amateur. I knew this would be of interest to Darren, so I tweeted the link to him.

I don’t know about any of you, but this type of collaborative interaction definitely builds my background and demonstrates the power of the online network. This book talk has taught me much more than any of the Oprah Book Clubs I have participated in ;) and this all happened within the last two hours.

August 17, 2007

Don’t just sit there, Collaborate.

Filed under: collaboration,network,twitter,wiki @ 5:33 pm and

As a requirement of the class that I am taking from Dean, my thoughts this past two weeks have been on collaboration. This is a reflection on my collaboration as it happened through this time frame.

Right off the bat Erin Dawson and I were sharing like minded direction during our elluminate session. We both wanted to create a wiki project on inclusion of technology in K-8 Science. Seemed like a great idea, but then it snowballed and evolved into elementarytech. This wiki demonstrates a broad spectrum of projects that infuse technology. We used mindmeister to brainstorm ideas and communicated mostly through email. I have heard the the quote from Alec Couros, “10 miles wide, 2 inches deep” and definitely applies to this wiki, we lacked direction. But I am still attached to it, I feel it has good potential and I intend to collect future lessons, links, units in this space. If anyone is interested, please come share with us. This is space that is ever growing.
Nicole Hofer created the Digital Citizen Ning group, I was familiar with Ning from my involvement with the digitalintern group and find it to be a neat platform to share and build community. I contributed a couple videos, but have intent to blog and develop this further. At the very least it is a good example of networking. I may use Ning to connect my students during this internship.

The neat part about the project with Dean was the opportunity to correspond with Jeff Utecht‘s Class. Micheal, David and Matt created a great wetpaint wiki Web 2.0 for Newbies. I hopped on and began a Twitter in the Classroom page.

With application to the classroom floating in my mind I was lucky Damien Bariexca linked me to his class wiki. His reflection of his wiki experience is just what is needed for new teachers, like me.

But that is just a taste of the collaboration, it is happening instantaneously. Through everything, twitter and come to mind, but also through comments, reflections and discussion. The network is a grand thing.

August 16, 2007

Who twits?

Filed under: digital citizenship,network,tool,twitter @ 12:39 am and

I twit. Just started, it was fine at first. Just me, by myself, just twittering away, no followers or leaders. I posted it on my blog as a cool tool and thought ‘groovy, another line of communication.’ There I was floating in the 140 characters. Why did I start? Don’t know, just heard about it, thought it would be neat to try. Now it is one of my most useful resources, it connects me to a network of individuals who lead and guide me (sometimes with 5 or 6 posts a day) through the web. To those 18 I follow, thank you. It is one of my most valuable tools, along with RSS and and it is all because of the network. It takes a lot less time than reading or writing full out blog post and it challenges the writer’s ability to be concise as well as write for a more specific audience of followers.

As I was going through my reader, I found a post by Alja Sulčič that inspired my reflections. Alja wrote these true words,

“Many are wondering at what makes people Tweet, but as with most Web 2.0 phenomena you can’t really know/understand what it is all about until you give it a try (and I mean really give it a try by actively participating!).”There are so many tools in the web 2 world that it is easy to be intimidated by them. I like exploring, always have, and now exploring is a skill that is becoming a valuable tool. Through my leaders tweets, my access to tools, resources, and neat idea’s has exploded. So I urge you, try this one out. But use caution it too has addictive properties.

add me and let us learn together.

I see lots of classroom possibilities for communication on collaborative projects. Perhaps, a series of project updates for the class to keep everyone on the same page and connected. or comparing weather with a group of grade two classrooms around the world. I am definitely going try this out at some capacity. Does anybody know of any classroom stories of it’s use?

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