Wednesday, June 13, 2007

For Twits Sake

I'm not an early adopter of anything. Blogs, wikis, podcasts; they all needed to generate some traction before I was willing to invest my own energy into consuming or creating with these media. But even as I became passingly aware of each, I knew if the trend continued I would need to experiment with them, learn how to use them, and find ways to work them into teaching. Afterall, this is where students are going; if these tools will help them learn, I need to be using them.

But I'm not sure I get some of the newer things. Second Life, which I have played around in off and on for over a year, just doesn't seem to click for me. The massive nature is interesting, but I'm still not convinced of its educational value except in cases where face to face is difficult, and then video chat seems more appropriate.

Now Twitter is becoming a bit of a thing. I tried it and honestly don't get it. At all. Who cares that I am eating popcorn right now? Perhaps Twitter is still largely in the shiny new toy stage and more engaging uses are still down the road. Maybe the Will Richardson of Twitter will reframe the twit as Will did the blog(v.).

But what got me going tonight was Jeff Utecht's post about Twitter in the classroom. He discusses the ability to use Twitter with cell phones and how this might help his IT department better communicate.
We are 8 people across 6 schools on two campuses 2 hours apart. It might be interesting to see if something like Twitter would allow us to stay in contact, help each other out, and improve our communication.

I can see this; this is a practical application that improves upon text messaging because a single twit can go to the entire group.

But then he extended the thought to the classroom.
With being able to use it on your cell phone I can picture some uses for it in the classroom as well. With kids able to answer questions via a text that appears on a teachers twitter account. You would have the name of the student, their answer and be able to give them personal feedback with a direct twit.
I felt that cold chill, that tightening in my gut usually reserved for extreme heights and spiders. A classroom awash in the glow of cell phones as teacher and students twit away, narry a word spoken. Is this the cold dread other educators feel when I talk about blogs?

But the image resonated on another level too. We are already doing this, aren't we. One of the hot topics of tech integration is response systems. What if Twitter is the response system all our students already own? What if, instead of spending thousands of dollars on these systems, we capitalize on the technology our students already bring to school every day.

And now I need to know more. So I've added the Twitter box to the blog, for now at least, and I've downloaded Twitterific from Iconfactory (apparently just for Macs). So, if you are a fellow Twitterer(?, gotta work on the lingo), twit me.

Here is my Twitter profile.

photo credit: Ohio University Center for Academic Technology

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Close the Book

Phew. The books are checked in. The posters are off the walls. The students have all gone home. We are done.

This year went by incredibly fast. I was joking with some of my students about how September to April went by in a blur and May took three months.

69 students graduated this year, students that largely would have dropped out if not for the alternative school. I am proud of everyone at Willard for being part of that success, and I am especially proud of the students choosing to be successful even when many people in their lives, including other educators, told them they would never graduate.

Now, getting ready for next year.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sitting at the Big Kids' Table

I've been pretty quiet in this space for a long time. This has mostly been self-censoring; lots of drafts have been written, but the various projects were all too up in the air to make public.

That changed this morning.

Starting next fall, I move into a half-time position as teacher on special assignment as the current teacher steps back to part time. Much of this position will be coordinating career and tech ed programs, overseeing the Perkins grant, and facilitating connections between school and the business community. The remainder of my time will be spent promoting and developing the integration of technology into the core curricular areas across the district. The new role is very exciting, but what I am most looking forward to is being part of the district-wide conversations about 21st century learning.

A significant piece of this second part is also connected to the other 0.5 of my full time day. I have been asked to be the teacher for a demonstration classroom, modeling how a wide variety of technologies--hardware, software, and web-based--can be embedded into an English classroom.

I get to both talk the talk and walk the walk. I can't wait.