Tag Archives: Twitter

Digital Learning Day 2016

While it seems strange to limit digital learning to a day, designating a day to highlight the ways digital learning is being integrated into formal learning experiences is an important way to showcase that digital learning is here…and should be taking place in our schools to the advantage of all our students.

This year, the focus of Digital Learning Day is the issue of digital equity…or in the form of a hashtag, #techquity.  A lot of people believe that digital equity is all about access to devices and internet…and of course, those are important issues, but #techquity is also about what students are asked to do and required to do with digital tools in their learning environments.  All too often, digital tools become virtual replacements of low level exercises formerly confined to worksheets…or they become “wow” presentations of work students already did without the digital tools, with no real digital advantage.  So the question becomes, what exactly constitutes digital equity?  This is a question we have been exploring here in San Diego in an initiative we call Smart Tech Use for Equity where teachers are documenting a tech use in their classroom, focused on whether or not this practice actually makes a difference for students.  Our work was featured in the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.

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At a recent leadership meeting at the SDAWP (San Diego Area Writing Project) we opened up a discussion about how to best highlight the work SDAWP teachers are doing with digital learning in their classrooms.  Our leadership group is a diverse cross-section of SDAWP teachers, representing levels from kindergarten to college and a variety of student demographics.  The beauty of this group is that we bring diverse experiences and opinions to the group–and are willing to engage in conversations where we do not all agree.  We discussed what we have done in the past…and what we might do in the future to share the work we know that SDAWP teachers are doing in their classrooms.

For some years now at the SDAWP we have had an SDAWP Twitter Fellow of the Week. Modeled after Sweden’s citizen Twitter campaign, SDAWP teachers share a glimpse of their teaching and their lives in San Diego. This work has allowed us to showcase the wonderful teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms and has put us in touch with other teachers, educators, authors, and researchers from all over the country (and perhaps the world). But…it’s on Twitter and some folks are simply resistant to Twitter, so there are many educators this effort doesn’t reach.

The SDAWP also has a Facebook page.  And because of the SDAWP Facebook page, many SDAWP teachers use their personal Facebook pages to connect to one another and share what is going on in their classrooms.  But, our “official” SDAWP Facebook page doesn’t reflect this. Up to this point it has been used to share mostly external resources and pertinent information for those interested in the teaching of writing. Occasionally, we have opportunities to celebrate the teaching of our SDAWP fellows…but even though we have a team of administrators, teachers can only post prominently on the SDAWP page if they post as an administrator.  So, why not open this opportunity up to more SDAWP teachers?

So, for Digital Learning Day 2016 we launch the SDAWP Facebook Fellow of the Week. Each week a different SDAWP teacher will post something going on in her/his classroom–celebrating the students they work with and their learning efforts.  Some of the work will be specifically digital and some will not, but all will show ways SDAWP teachers strive to support the learners in their classrooms, honoring their lives and experiences in the process.

We hope to democratize our SDAWP Facebook page as a different teacher each week takes on the role of administrator and adds their own content to the page.  Of course, careful attention will be paid to student privacy…a role that teachers have become increasingly aware of in this world of digital media, in our schools, and in our lives.  We also hope that this effort will show the many ways digital equity is practiced in classrooms…and expose the inequities (many beyond the the control of classroom teachers) that still need our attention and effort.

How will you mark Digital Learning Day?




Playing with Constraints: Twitter Memoir

There is something about constraints that create conditions for creativity…especially when I’m just getting started with something.  Jeremy, a colleague over at the NWP iAnthology last week offered as a writing prompt an invitation to write a memoir in 140 characters…a tweet!  Here’s his directions:

One of the activities that I have my students do is something called a Twitter Memoir. It is a way for me to scaffold with my students on writing memoirs. We slowly build from 140 characters to 25 word memoirs, then 50 word memoirs. Finally they write their full blown memoir about a personal experience in their life. Many of my students are not on Twitter, but as I am introducing this exercise, I get a few to sign-up. I don’t require my students to be on Twitter because I have a Tweet board in my classroom where they can post their Twitter Memoirs.

So, I challenge you this week to write a short 140 character memoir. It does not have to be on Twitter. For the sake of simplicity let’s just write them here at the iAnthology. Also, if you want to know more about this process you can check out the book Troy Hicks and I co-authored titled Create, Compose, Connect. Have a blast doing this, my students do!

I was intrigued by the idea of a memoir in 140 characters and spent some time composing.  I was able to whittle down to 140 characters…but realized that I wouldn’t have room for hashtags if I used all the allowed characters.  So I trimmed some more hoping to get down to a point where I could include a hashtag like #ce14 (for connected educator month) or #digiwrimo (for digital writing month).  I finally posted this Twitter memoir in the iAnthology prompt space, I wasn’t able to get the characters quite small enough for the hashtags I wanted to include.

Here it is.  It includes 138 characters (spaces, punctuation, and letters)…and it happens to be exactly 25 words, so it fits two of the criteria Jeremy set out.

With phone in hand I explore my world, snapping photos, collecting thoughts & ideas, searching for new vantages. Through images I connect.

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a photo!  (This one is from an urban hike on Sunday…just beyond my neighborhood.)

Bare Tree

What will your Twitter memoir say about you?  Can you craft it to include a mere 140 characters?  I’d love to see yours…on your blog or on Twitter!  (You can find me @kd0602)  I’m going to tweet this post that includes my Twitter memoir…and include some of my hashtags along with the link.  I hope you’ll share yours with me too!


I treated myself to a walk on the beach today after a writing project meeting at the university.  So instead of walking on the beach near where I live, I walked on the beach down the hill from the university.  It was foggy and cool, a perfect day for thinking and reflecting.

As I was walking I was thinking about the meeting…a follow up to the Invitational Summer Institute (a 4-week intensive leadership institute in the teaching of writing)…and the structures that we need as learners to move along the continuum from novice to expert (with the endpoint constantly moving) and from follower to leader.

The structure of the Summer Institute (SI) is designed to immerse teachers in writing, researching, reflecting on their practice, and critical conversations about teaching and learning.  The structure is strong and well built, based on the 40-year-old model developed by National Writing Project founder, Jim Gray.


This pier is also a carefully designed, well built structure made to withstand the battering waves of the Pacific Ocean and the relentless wind and sun.  I love the way when you look through the pier it narrows and provides a window through the corridor of surf out to sea just like the SI helps teachers look carefully at policy and practice and then focus on instruction that best supports the students in front of them.

And some of the structures we depend on are organic like these cliffs.


They are shaped by the natural environment.  I watched our SI participants create their own structures as well.  They gathered this morning, organically, catching up with each other as we, as facilitators, finalized our last minute plans.

And then there are structures that are light and flexible, like this feather on the beach.


It makes me think of our Twitter Fellow of the Week.  This playful use of social media supports more weight than you might imagine.  While we originally saw this program as a way to connect to one another within our project by giving each other a glimpse into a week in the life of an SDAWP educator, it has proven to do more.  When teachers use Twitter as a professional learning network, their interactions begin to impact their practice.  Suddenly they are reading more professional articles about education, “listening in” to debates about policy and practice, getting and sharing ideas from others (within our site and beyond our site), and making their own classroom practice more visible.

Today we asked our SI 2013 cohort to sign up as Twitter Fellows…and starting tomorrow we will begin to get a glimpse into their lives.  (You can follow @SDAWP_Fellow on Twitter) Those who are more confident on Twitter signed up first…but others are willing to dip a toe into this unfamiliar world of tweets and hashtags and mentions.  And they have the rest of the SDAWP community who are happy to help…and the others in their cohort will also be “listening” on Twitter, ready to respond and retweet and favorite…so they won’t be hollering into the dark.

My beach walk today was quiet and introspective as I thought about all the structures I noticed…and those we use to support learners.  Structures can help us stretch and reach and connect as we learn and grow.  What structures support you?  What structures support your students?

A Writing Kind of Day

Today was a writing kind of day.

On Friday we began celebrating the National Day on Writing with a field trip and a puzzle piece that I wrote about here.

But today was the cherry on top of the writing sundae.

Our morning began with a version of a chalk talk.  My teaching partner taped white butcher paper to the wall ball court and posted a few questions for students at our school to respond to: How do you use writing to connect?  Where do you like to write? and Who are your favorite authors or what are you favorite books?

With markers in hand, our students started writing.

They wrote about places they love to write: writing on couches, on the beach, and in libraries.  They love Shel Silverstein, Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and J.K. Rowling.  They write letters, texts, emails, books, notes and more.

They wrote and wrote and wrote.  And when they weren’t writing, they were reading the writing of their classmates on the wall.

Our school-wide puzzle was also on display in the wall ball court today.


And students enjoyed reading what other classes at our school wrote for their puzzle piece (and finding their own and reading it again!).


And then we went on with our regular classroom activities…and more writing!  Our students have been drafting a just-for-fun piece of writing about an animal of their choice. And they were applying what they have been learning about using figurative language (similes), specific and interesting verbs, and sensory imagery (sound, movement) to write a “moment” featuring their animal.  Today they took some time to give their writing a “check up” (you know like the doctor does to make sure you are healthy).  They reread their writing and looked for the features mentioned above…and then went back to their writing to make it even better.

And the best part of the day was that these writers enjoyed writing, sharing writing about their writing on Twitter, and even revising their writing…because they are writers.  And today was all about writing.

Experiencing the Underbelly

I often write about the benefits of being a connected educator.  Today I experienced a bit of the underbelly.

As I do everyday, I spent my morning teaching students.  We sang, discussed, explored some new math strategies, wrote and shared.  From the time school started until lunch, I didn’t have time to email or post or tweet.  But apparently my twitter account did…

When I looked at my phone at lunchtime I noticed a number of twitter alerts and text messages visible on the lock screen.  Texts from my son and my nephew warning me that I’d been hacked alongside DM (direct message) notices from people I don’t know (even virtually) recommending web links to me–and one from a friend asking if I had been hacked.  I had a few twitter mentions from some virtual friends suggesting I change my password because they were getting DMs from me.  A peek at my email showed some more messages from people I know recommending that I change my password–they too were getting DMs from me.

I also got an email from Twitter telling me my password had been reset.  Apparently my account had been quite busy while I was otherwise occupied with my teaching!

So I spent some time resetting my password, and then responding to my friends and family to let them know that I appreciated their advice and warning.  I also noticed that I wasn’t the only one victimized by Twitter spamming today.  Here are a couple of other tweets pointing out the problem.

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I don’t like that my account was hacked or that it looked like I was sending out annoying messages to my Twitter community.  But I also know that this goes with the territory.  Being a connected educator means that I have to deal with the hassles of technology and social media as well as reap the benefits of it.

I appreciate that my Twitter community remains cool and matter of fact even when faced with annoying and sometimes confusing security breaches…and they help me know how to act when I experience these same issues.

And in spite of the problems, I remain a connected educator.

Listening: Becoming a Connected Educator

Earlier in the week I posted about being a Connected Educator.  Since then I’ve also been thinking about those educators who are connected but not yet putting their voices out in the digital space professionally.  Lurker is the term I’ve heard to describe people who read on social media but don’t comment or post themselves.  But lurker has such an evil sound to it–as though they lurk in order to gain information for underhanded reasons.  In some ways they seem to me to be listeners, like those students in my classroom who are soaking everything up like sponges but can’t yet bear to raise their hand and make a public comment.

Like the students in my classroom, I suspect that those digital listeners will at some point begin to comment and post for themselves, they just aren’t ready…yet.  And since I started this blog (almost three months ago), I have had many instances of people making comments about my content when I’ve had no evidence of their interaction.  It feels a bit odd at first.  Almost like someone is eavesdropping on a conversation that they are not participating in.  But then again, I am making a choice to put my writing and thinking out in the public sphere.  And whether people chose to comment or “like” my blog post is a decision for them to make.  It also reminds me as a reader of blogs and other social media that I read substantially more than I comment or otherwise indicate my presence.

And I also know that sometimes it just takes the right condition to get someone to dip their toe into the social media waters.  If you listen to the NWP radio show on being a Connected Educator you will hear Abby and Janis and Barb talk about getting started and how much it helps to have support, like when our SDAWP teachers take on the Twitter account as @SDAWP_Fellow for a week.  (We adapted that idea from Sweden’s practice of having a citizen take on the country’s Twitter account.)  It’s also like having Barb and Matt’s support when trying out blogging on our collaborative blog, SDAWP Voices.

Today for my #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day I took a photo of what I thought was some kind of fungus making a silky white coating on the leaves of our hibiscus plant.  When I posted it to Instagram and Twitter, I got a response from one of my colleagues from my school site via Twitter telling me that this “fungus” was in fact white flies.  I knew my colleague had a Twitter account, but she seldom tweets.  I do try to nudge my colleagues when I see something that I think will interest them by “mentioning” them on Twitter.  (I know I’m more likely to respond when someone “elbows” me and points me to something that has been posted.)  I did this on Friday with my colleague when I saw an app I thought she might find interesting.  And she acknowledged that tweet by replying.  And then today, without a nudge, she shared valuable information with me about my plant.


There are stages to being connected.  Most people start slow (I know I did) and then work up to more active participation.  For most of us that’s how we learn to do a lot of things.  We watch, we listen, we test, we get some feedback and then continue to increase our confidence and participation–or abandon that thing altogether.  As educators we can’t afford to abandon digital literacy or being connected educators, but it isn’t necessary to jump in the deep end. There are lots of support systems out there.

In what ways are you connected?  What is the one thing you will do in the next week to increase your connectedness?  Will you comment on a blog?  Respond to a tweet?  Tweet a link to an interesting article or blog post?  Start a Twitter account?  (You are welcome to follow me @kd0602)  I’d love to know if you are willing to post your goal as a comment!

Some Thoughts on Digital Learning: #Leadership Day 2013

Scott McLeod over at Dangerously ! Irrelevant is celebrating the 7th anniversary of his blog today and inviting educators to share views on effective school technology leadership on what he calls Leadership Day 2013.

In lots of way I have been fortunate in my district with technology–our administrators employ a person to provide tech support to troubleshoot problems, send me to trainings if I ask to go, and trust me to figure out what is best for my students.  But I would say that those conditions are not enough to ensure participation of teachers who feel less confident with digital literacy and need more direction and support to implement robust technology use in their classrooms.

But instead of saying just how to support these teachers, in this post I will talk about the pieces of technology leadership that I feel are most often overlooked.  They are two very different but very important aspects of digital literacy:

  • Consideration of the impact of technology on student learning
  • Leadership by example by being a user of digital tools

Consideration of the Impact of Technology on Student Learning

There seems to be lots of attention to hardware decisions in education–Macs or PCs, tablets or chrome books, smart boards, document cameras…  The list goes on.  And there’s lots of attention to software and applications and how technology supports teachers–ease of grading, presentation tools, record keeping…  What is missing for me are meaningful conversations about the ways technology and digital literacy impact student learning.  Instead of asking each other what apps to use on classroom iPads, I think we need to ask how digital tools support student learning.  How can students transform information in ways that make it relevant and meaningful–and accessible in novel situations?  Instead of deciding between Evernote and Notability, we need to have conversations about how and why students will use this type of application–and it probably doesn’t matter which you choose if you have reasons that support student learning.

Leadership by Example by Being a User of Digital Tools

What I notice from my own Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter is that educators who are thinking about the ways digital tools impact student learning are also actively using digital tools for their own learning.  They are blogging about their professional learning, tweeting articles and links about research and thinking about digital tools, they are experimenting with new ways to represent their own learning with video, digital photography, infographics, and other digital tools, and they are actively learning with and from other educators trying similar tools.   I do see a few administrators and district leaders joining in this effort–and it seems that those who do have a bigger impact on the implementation of technology in their districts. The more district leaders use digital tools themselves, the better positioned they are to understand the benefits and challenges of them–and the potential implementation possibilities for use with students.

Our students will be using digital tools–they are pervasive in our lives.  Our question as educators is how do we use these tools to support our students’ learning…and help our students (and ourselves) see and use these technologies in ways that make us all more thoughtful, efficient, and productive?  Leadership is essential to successful implementation.  I hope my suggestions give some food for thought for those in leadership positions for the implementation of technology in education.

The Silent Hand of Design: August’s Photo-a-Day Journey

I’m now just a few days away from a full year of participation in photo-a-day.  This daily practice of taking intentional photographs and posting each day has had a profound effect on my photography skills–and on my powers of noticing in the world.

For the last few months, my #sdawpphotovoices friends and I have been exploring different prompts to push our creativity.  We’ve been inspired by Picasso and Neil Gaiman and last month we spent each week focused on a single color.

I recently came across this Ted Talk by Rob Forbes who talks about design within reach.  He takes about 5000 photos each year, capturing interesting design elements.

I love the idea of the silent hand of design uncovered in the photos he takes.  Unexpected patterns and textures, angles and curves, symmetry and technology pop up in our everyday lives when we take the time to look.  Forbes suggests that the first job of design is to serve a social purpose and that the best design preserves diversity and culture.

For the month of August, let’s focus our photography on design.  Each week we will focus on a different element…and at the end of the week we’ll reflect on our photographs and curate our own observations and learning.  (I am cross-posting this at SDAWP Voices where Barb will create a link up for us each week)


Take a picture each day that somehow captures the design element and post it to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr using the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices.  (You can post anywhere—if you want others to be able to follow your photos, Instagram and Twitter are best!)  For more information about posting click here.  At the end of each week let’s add an additional challenge:  curate your pictures from the week and select one to highlight.  You might post it on your blog along with some musings about why you selected it.  If you don’t have a blog of your own, you have a couple of choices—you can create a blog (be sure to share it with us by including your blog address in the comments here—or better yet, tweet it using the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices) or you can post to the SDAWP Voices blog.

August 1-4:  symmetry

August 4 or 5: reflect on your week and share your thinking and picture (or collage) on the link up

August 5-11:  curves

August 11 or 12:  reflect on your week and share your thinking and picture (or collage) on the link up

August 12-18:  angles

August 18 or 19:  reflect on your week and share your thinking and picture (or collage) on the link up

August 19-25:  patterns

August 25 or 26:  reflect on your week and share your thinking and picture (or collage) on the link up

August 26-31:  repetition

August 31 or September 1:  reflect on your week and share your thinking and picture (or collage) on the link up

As an extra invitation, at the end of the month, pick your five favorites to inspire a bit of writing or art or something else you want to make.  Be sure to share your creativity and what you discover through the process.  I can’t wait to see what our focus on design elements will reveal!