Category Archives: Twitter

Comic Strip Newsletters

I went to a workshop last week and a fellow teacher told me that she does her newsletters in a comic strip format.

I thought it was a great idea for several reasons.

It’s Visual!

Large blocks of text often get ignored in this fast paced world. A comic strip is something that can be quickly scanned.

It’s Unique

The newsletters I’ve seen are pretty much all the same. Comic strip newsletters stand out and pretty much call to be read by everyone.

It’s Creative

It shows that we can get messages and stories across in a variety of different ways.

It’s Informative

You can get a lot of information into a short comic strip as you can see from the one I sent home earlier this year.

There are dozens and dozens of comic creation tools online. Many of them are free.

I wanted my newsletter to really look unique so I didn’t use any of those tools. Instead, I created myself out of Lego and designed this comic strip using a word processor. The drawing tools let you easily add speech bubbles, text boxes, and pictures to the frames.

Well, that’s it. My first comic strip newsletter.

Try it out!

More Teaching Tips

How I’ve Been Using Facebook in My Teaching

As an experiment this year, I decided to embrace social media to help open the lines of communication with students and parents.

It’s only three months into the school year, but I thought I’d share with you my progress thus far.
I started up a professional Facebook account this summer. This account was meant to be strictly for my teaching practice. I wasn’t going to post anything that wasn’t related to my classroom instruction or program. 
I don’t use Facebook personally, so it was easy to set up this new account and not mix my personal and professional life online. 
And it worked . . . up to a point.
I became Facebook friends with 41 students. It was interesting to see the things they talked about on their pages. I didn’t see a lot on my dashboard stream though. I think many of the students adjusted their privacy settings to prevent  me from seeing everything they posted, which was fine. Other students didn’t want to have a teacher as a friend whatsoever. 
The solution . . . 
I started a Facebook Page. This way students and parents can “like” my page instead of friending me. This allows them to see all of my updates, interact with the posts, and leave comments. 
To that end, I asked my students to “like” my new page and then I started removing them as friends. I sometimes miss that I cannot see all of their posts anymore but I think this is a much safer environment for teachers to still use the social media site. 
Almost everyone uses Facebook. Why not use it to help open up the lines of communication between school and home. 
Office Hours
Students or parents can’t expect to find me online all of the time. I told them that I will do my best to be online from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. every night. That way any questions they might have will be answered before they go to bed. 

Twitter

I also started a professional Twitter page that is secondary to my current one. This is only used for educational purposes as well. 

Teachers Should be Online
I have always had an open-door policy, but I have found that very few parents call or come in to the school. Some students are reluctant to stay after class or come in before school starts. Having a social media presence makes my door even more accessible. In this day and age, connecting online is quick and easy. It only makes sense to use these tools in an educational setting.
How about you? 
Are you using social media, websites, text messages, etc in your teaching practice? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know how it’s working for you. Thanks! 

The Gay Insult

Describing things as gay has become the latest all-encompassing insult.

“That’s so gay!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those words or a variation of them. Kids, in particular, are using it a lot and it is starting to cross over into regular media as well.

I read a blog post this week over at Daily Writing Tips where the author was dumbfounded by the new definition of “gay.” She did some research and presented how this word has changed meaning several times over the past 700 years. It’s a fascinating read and I had just had to share it on Twitter.

I then thought that I should probably add an explanation to that tweet so I sent this one out right after it.

I find it offensive to use gay as an insult and wanted to make my position known.

Of course, Adam One made a great point that I just had to acknowledge.

The word gay is branded now so that the past definitions really don’t even apply any more in this day and age.

It seems that a lot of people don’t think describing something in negative terms as “gay” is a problem. It reminds me of when I was a kid and we would say that things were “retarded”

After a while we woke up to that as being an offensive term. The message got through. I must say that I rarely hear people using “retarded” in that context these days.

I think we need to stand up and let people know that this is an offensive thing to do now.

It really is all about respect, isn’t it?

I love that you can have a healthy debate on Twitter. Maybe we’ve raised some awareness on this issue. Let’s stop using “gay” as an insult and if we hear it, let’s stand-up and say something about it.

Stop the hate!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Twitter in the Classroom

I found this cool document that gives you 29 ways you can use Twitter as a learning tool in your classroom. I think teachers should be embracing technology and bringing it into the classroom. I have found that the students respond really well to it. That is why I hope you will look at this document and see how you can bring Twitter into the classroom. 
Here are a few of my favourite ideas from this document. Keep in mind that you can do some of these strategies without having your students actually being online. They can use the Twitter format using pencil and paper or on a word processor.
# 12 Based on a novel or short story – submitted by http://twitter.com/hlvanrip
This strategy involves having students create fictional twitter accounts to write from a specific character’s point of view.
After a study of point of view and character development, students become a character and create a twitter account ex: @janeeyre, @rochester
Students use their study of that character to create conversations around key events in the plot. They can also focus on events and situations that are omitted from the text, but referred to. This way the students are creating their own fiction based on their knowledge of the writer, the time period, and the characters.
# 15 Anagrams – post 8 letters and see how many new words can be formed? – submitted by http://twitter.com/bookminder
This would be a great timed and competitive thing to do. If your students have Twitter accounts, they can see the words other people have posted and will have to try to come up with different words.
# 19 Log Book – While they work on assignments, stimulate your students to tweet and reply about: stuff they learn, difficulties they face, tips they want to share, great resources they find. In this way, Twitter replaces the students logbook. – submitted by http://twitter.com/driesvangils
I think this is incredibly useful. Most people don’t seem to keep any sort of a log. Looking back at my past tweets, I can see that I have do so for some of my writing and I find that it really helps.
# 20 Probability in Math – submitted by http://twitter.com/tombarrett
When learning about probability and the language of chance in mathematics, use your Twitter network to offer a real world response to your questions.
“What are the chances you will see a deer today?”
“What are the chances it will snow where you are?”
With a variety of people in different locations you will hopefully have a variety of different responses.
The author of the document has used this successfully years and raves about the benefits of it. He states, “the different language used in replies provides a great teaching opportunity. From ‘50/50’ to ‘Buckley’s Mate.’ Twitter replies could then be captured, added to a IWB notebook and placed on a probability scale or indeed a map of the origin, sparking further discussion about how this affects the probability of different events.”
# 21 Twalter Egos – submitted by http://twitter.com/geoblogs
This strategy involves creating a fictional alter-ego in Twitter who would develop as a ‘character’ who had a back story. After this had been developed, they could be ‘introduced’ to classes, who could follow, and do activities based on past tweets.
Creating fake people on Twitter and then having students research the tweets sounds like a great idea. You could use it to review concepts that have been taught throughout the year or to introduce new concepts. Sounds good to me.
Here’s a more detailed blog post about it – http://livinggeography.blogspot.com/2009/02/twalter-ego.html
# 22 Scavenger Hunt – submitted by http://twitter.com/CCahillMN
“Have students find websites, pictures, or other online documents that fit a certain criteria related to your subject area. For example, if you are studying China, you could have students locate a map of China before PRC was formed or a narrative account of the Tiananmen Square incident.
Students then post links to Twitter, and once a resource has been posted, it can not be posted by another student/group. This could be used in conjunction with teaching research skills & information literacy and/or as a method for collecting resources.”
Love this idea. I tried to make it work with my classroom blog last year but it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. Twitter sounds like a much better platform for it.
# 26 – Historical Figures
“Invite your students or classes to generate a Twitter account for a historical figure. For example Samuel Pepys has an account and has been explaining his experiences during the London fires. A hauntingly effective way of gaining insight. This concept could be applied to any time period.
What would an Egyptian Vizier report during the construction of the pyramids?
A nobleman within the court of Henry VIII?”

Try it Out! 


I’m glad that I found this document. These are great strategies on using Twitter as an educational tool. I think teachers should be embracing technology and bringing it into the classroom. The students respond really well to using computers. Ideally, I’d like everyone in my class to have a computer so that every question I ask in class could be answered instantly by each student through the use of Twitter. This would be a great tool since it could eliminate shyness. It would also give me some great data to look at to see how well the students are responding to my lessons.

March Break 


Since teachers really need to take a well-deserved break, I will not be posting a Teaching Tip next week.   I will be posting regular entries however and this series will return. Never fear!  Enjoy your break!

Twitter Tip – Creating a Threaded Discussion

One of the most frustrating things about Twitter is trying to have a conversation with someone.

When you reply to a tweet, it isn’t threaded at all. There is no subject heading so it can often be unclear as to what post you are commenting on.
I know there have been times when I’ve stared at my @replies and had to decipher what it was this person was trying to say to me. I’ve had to scroll back through my tweets to see what I said and which particular thought started the discussion.
Well today, I came up with a way to thread a conversation so that my readers will be able to follow it without confusion.
I’ll show you what I did.
As you can see. The original tweet is at the top of my Twitter page and my two part reply is directly below it. This was any of my followers will be able follow the entire discussion quickly and easily.
The first thing I need to explain here is how use multiple tweets to get a point across because sometimes 140 characters is simply not enough.

Simply type the entire message you want to post. Twitter automatically does the counting for you and even tells you how many characters you have gone over. Then split the message into two parts and number them (1/2 – means that this is message 1 of 2)

The trick here is to post the last message first. Do this by highlighting the first tweet (1/2) and copying the text (Control C)

Once you’ve copied the text, click delete and post the second part of the message. Once it appears on you Twitter page, immediately paste the first part of the message and hit “update”

Now on your Twitter page, people will be able to scroll down and read your message in the right order.
The next thing to do is to go and retweet the original message to which you are replying to.
I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier. It solves the problem about threaded discussions in Twitter for not only myself but for all of my readers as well.
I hope you found this tip useful and I hope to have some discussions with you either here in the comments of on Twitter. Thanks.

Laughs in the Mail

I got this letter in the mail on Friday and I laughed out loud.

It’s not often a letter can evoke laughter from me. Laughter that brightens up my whole day. Laughter that was desperately needed that day.
Before I show you the letter though, it needs a bit of set-up.
I hope you’ve been following me on Twitter.
I’m having a lot of fun on that micro-blogging site. It’s interesting to publish thoughts and ideas, to share links, and to communicate with others in the short space allotted.

One thing that is amazing though is how I keep picking up new followers. I can post something and almost immediately I pick up new followers interested in what I had just shared. I actually posted about that on January 20th.

This is what I wrote
“I posted about a Scrabble game I played & had scrabble fanatics follow me right away. I replied to a post about barber hours and got a barber following me. How about I post about needing money, maybe it’ll come to me 2.”

That’s the set up, here’s the letter. I hope you get a laugh out of it too.

Short and sweet. Right to the point. The words I posted on Twitter and a ten dollar bill.
Is this the law of attraction at work here?
Not quite.
It was my cousin’s brilliant sense of humour. I loved getting this in the mail because of the laugh it gave me. My cousin is awesome and has proven to be my best Twitter follower.
Here’s a prize for you cous,
Thanks!

Please Think Before You Tweet

Twitter is a great platform. It allows you to express yourself quickly and succinctly. You can connect with other people and share your thoughts or observations, all in less than 140 characters.

The only problem with it is that it is almost too easy. Any random thought can be quickly typed out and published.

I know I have some great thoughts that I feel I just need to blurt out. My thoughts are important. Everyone should hear them, shouldn’t they?

So I quickly type out my thought.

Before I hit “update” though, I read it over and really think about whether I want this thought out there permanently.

Sometimes the answer is no. Certain thoughts are better left unsaid or unTwittered.

I think some people really need to edit themselves more. Not everything should become the subject of a Twitter of Facebook update.

These social networking sites shouldn’t be random and uncensored thoughts repositories.

People really do need to think before they hit “update.”

So here is a quick test you can do before you hit “update”, “publish”, or “send”

Do I want this thought out there forever?
Is it appropriate to wear this tweet on a T-shirt?

I can see all sorts of PSA “Please think before you Tweet” Maybe we really do need such ads. People seem to have lost their common sense.

Love Story Meets Viva La Vida

I so love Twitter.

Ryan D. Scott posted this message up yesterday: “Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp, Taylor Swift and Coldplay = holy fantastic. Thanks @jonschmidty http://bit.ly/BjfHR”

I follow Ryan because he is a good blogger and posts some interesting thoughts, observations, and links on his Twitter page. I followed this link in particular because I have recently become a fan of Taylor Swift. I’m glad that I checked out the video because Ryan was right, it is amazing.

So I retweeted the message so my Twitter followers could check out the video as well. I wrote @ryandscott That was cool! “on Schmidt, Steven Sharp, Taylor Swift & Coldplay = holy fantastic. Thanks” @jonschmidty http://bit.ly/BjfHR

But I know that Twitter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so I decided to share the video with you here as well. I showed it to my class today and had the students write a response to it. I played it for them as they wrote and then I played them Taylor Swift’s video so they could see the connection.

Isn’t that an awesome video? It’s obvious that they are having a lot of fun with the song. I wanted to show my students that music can be fun and beautiful and that it can be presented in so many different ways. I hope they got the message and I hope you’ve enjoyed this too.

Check out the artist of Twitter here: http://twitter.com/jonschmidty
You can also follow Ryan D. Scott here: http://twitter.com/ryandscott
And if you can’t get enough Chase either here or on my other blog Thoughtful Cacophony, please check my Twitter page here: http://twitter.com/chasemarch