I am now officially participating in the social network called “Twitter.” Apparently it has grown beyond its original means; it is no longer just for paparazzi who want the scoop on what their idols are eating for breakfast. (Personally, I couldn’t care less about Kiera Knightley’s oatmeal if I tried.) It is now being incorporated into businesses, classrooms, and professional institutions around the world.
Twitter is potentially a network of ideas and online resources moving between professionals and nonprofessionals alike. I didn’t think that network would be applicable to me until I started sifting. Now I say that there is probably something out there for anyone, and I must admit that there is something insanely cool about being able to follow Bill Nye. With more investigating I may be linked to world-renowned scientists, philosophers, and thinkers of all kinds. It’s like the constant Facebook updates of the entire world all mishmashed into one mess of a website. Yes, I do say Twitter is a mess. It’s terribly disorganized and scattered, at least from my point of view. After half an hour on Twitter even a stagnant article was like a breath of fresh, coherent air. The website is definitely going to take some getting used to.
Oh yeah, I’m actually supposed to be answering questions in this response.
Q: Which chat did you participate in?
A: Being a chemistry major, I thought it would be worthwhile looking into one called #chemchat. (Thursdays 8:30-9:30PM EST) Only two other people showed up, and I’m pretty sure one of them was a robot. However, some of the older posts were worthwhile. Some chemistry teachers were discussing the use a novel in their curriculum called The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. It discusses how the elements have worked their way into human history and pop culture. The book covers everything from Godzilla to Gandhi to melting spoons – not very practical knowledge, but very interesting facts. In case you’re wondering, the title refers to a classic chemists’ prank. If you create something out of the metal gallium, it will melt if it touches a warm surface because gallium has a low melting point. The idea is to melt down gallium into a spoon mold and give it to your choice visitor. Upon stirring the hot beverage, the spoon will appear to dissolve into the liquid. If you can track down the gallium, it’s a great way to give your dear Aunt Bertha a terrible fright.
I had much more success with #mschat, or Middle School Chat. (Thursdays 8-9PM EST) The discussion was led by a few moderators, and many teachers were actively involved in the chat over the course of the hour. It was indeed a chat; there were no lulls, yet the information did not fly by too quickly for comprehension.
Q: Was there a theme to the chat?
A: I presume this question means aside from middle school teaching. If there was a central theme I missed it due to my late arrival. The topics seemed to concern parent and student involvement in the school systems. The idea is that most people care about schools, but few people do anything in response. They don’t know how to connect to schools or why it would even be important for a community to have ties to the school in the first place. There was the prevailing idea of reaching out, and some of these attempts had been more successful than others.
Community members respond to tangible rewards. They like being able to see the students and what they are doing. Parents, students, and community members alike benefit form having works displayed for all to see. One teacher even talked about putting the students’ projects up on a Facebook group. That sounded terribly risky to me, but perhaps regulations are more strict around here. I don’t even know what country that person was representing.
Q: What did you learn? Did anyone post links that you found helpful? List one or two and explain why you found them useful. Use bitly to shorten and share.
A: Some of the educators provided links to blogs and videos. Drew Frank’s blog concerns student leadership and asks the questions: How can we bring children up to be leaders? What is a leader, really? The point of his blog was that every person has a slightly different idea what constitutes leadership. Therefore, how can teachers reinforce the idea of leadership if each teacher has a different definition and goes about it in a different manner?
One way to foster leadership is through official school organizations such as SGA. (Student Government Association) This concept blew me away. There are SGA reps at the middle school level? Did we ever have that in our middle school? If we did, I certainly didn’t know what it was. Our school had student body elections, but not what I think of now as SGA. I have only become acquainted with this term in my college years, and have thus only applied the concept to college students. Perhaps I would have known what SGA was had I actually participated in my student body more.
This blog also discussed Jewish student empowerment and student ambassadors for interschool events. As an individual who never aspired towards peer leadership, I can honestly say that I have never given either of these concepts a thought. I suppose for aspiring students, this kind of opportunity might prove to be a scaffolding for future leadership. To be honest, I still find the concepts Jewish students as needing empowerment and schools needing student ambassadors rather unnecessary. However, if the students are truly enthusiastic about these programs, then maybe I need to begin reevaluating the significance of leadership in the schools.
There was also quite a bit of discussion about UClass, which appears to be a company that makes its living off of connecting teachers across the country. It allows the students to travel as they learn and aims to make the learning process more dynamic, much like real life circumstances. Maybe I just don’t understand Twitter etiquette, but I couldn’t figure out whether these tweets were sent out by a paid representative, a robot, or just an avid tweeter. Maybe advertisement tweets are just part of the Twitter world. Maybe I’m just overly callused towards people trying to sell me things. After all, isn’t Twitter all about the sharing of ideas? Advertisements are valid ideas too, I suppose. Still, nobody wants to see nothing but a bunch of ads. That’s why people pay for Netflix in the first place!
To prove that I am competent with Bitly, here are the two links I referenced:
Drew Frank’s Leadership Blog http://bit.ly/13TIf8h
UClass Youtube Video http://bit.ly/1bcSWrj
P: Chose at least 5 people from the chat and start following them.
A: I’m not familiar with Twitter subtleties yet, so I’m not sure if it’s polite to reference these people’s names in my blog. Some of them didn’t even have names to go by.
The first person is a seventh grade science teacher, as well as one of the chat moderators. He seems passionate about meeting students on their level and using optimism as a motivational tool.
The second is a sixth grade humanities teacher from the city. She was passionate about building personal relationships with the students, which I found strange for a city school teacher. I thought inner city teachers were supposed to gripe about underfunding, dropouts, and gun control. Maybe she teaches at a private school, or maybe the enormity of the city has given her a different perspective of the importance of human relationships in the world.
The third teacher was more abstract and posted ideas that were completions in and of themselves. That is to say, I can’t really say what he stands for yet. His ideas seem to be interesting and I can’t wait to see how his input will impact my understanding.
The fourth teacher was helpful because she gave concrete examples in the middle of the chat. It was helpful to read her information because it didn’t have as much lingo mingled with high level abstractions. After all this time, I still don’t know what a Ss and Ps are supposed to be. Whatever it is, it’s used maddeningly often. If you know what it means, please leave a comment. I would be most appreciative.
Finally, the fifth teacher was a moderator who announced the topic for the next week’s discussion. I thought he would be a good person to follow because he might follow up with the topic during the week. If not, I will have someone to refer to for next week.