To Tweet Or Not To Tweet…A Guide To Tweeting With Early Learners

It’s done.  The major part of our project for EDCI 338 is complete and published.  Already many colleagues and friends have read the e-book and have shared it out, with very supportive comments, so it is very encouraging that what Liane Loeppky and I created is positively received and will be useful for others. The next step will be to publish in the iBook store and I will update this blog post with the link to the iBook store when it is officially available.

Our project has morphed over the course of the term from our original plan of developing a scope and sequence for teaching social media to young learners, to what it became, a more widely available and hopefully more practical tool to help teachers get started using social media in a responsible way with their students.

Liane and I met a number of times face to face over the course of the past two months to brainstorm, write and edit our ideas.  We also took time apart to research and write sections of the book before coming back together to compare notes and collaborate on the writing and editing together. As we were discussing the content of our book, we decided that we should also have our classes collaborate on a children’s version of our book for other teachers to use with their classes.  So, my class discussed and wrote the “rules and guidelines” for twitter use for kids, and Liane’s class painted the illustrations for our book.  We are planning on publishing that book on issue.com, just like our teacher’s book, as well as publishing to the iBook store and I will add those links to this blog as we finish the project.

We produced both of these books with the Book Creator App, a simple to use iPad app that I have used to publish two other books. You can find those collaborative projects here and here, both written by my students together with Tasha Cowdy‘s (from Japan), Jason Graham‘s and Ben Sheridan‘s classes (from Indonesia). The experience I had with these projects made the choice of using Book Creator and easy one.  The app is intuitive, and projects are easily shared back and forth between collaborators via Dropbox. Thanks to Ben’s expertise, our two children’s books are available to download from the iBook store so that the students’ parents can upload them to their iDevices and enjoy the books from home.  Those families who do not have iDevices were still able to access the books through publishing on issuu.com.

It is our hope that this resource that we have created will encourage others to thoughtfully and intentionally teach their young students the basic etiquette for using social media.  As our students mature and age, hopefully they will be able to apply this controlled and guided group practice to their independent use of social media when they are at an appropriate age to manage the responsibility of being in such a public venue.

The Power of Social Media

The most unbelievable thing happened yesterday that is a beautiful illustration of the power of social media. Yesterday I wrote a post entitled “Reach for the Stars” about how Commander Chris Hadfield had influenced my son David’s decision to become an astronaut. As I was tweeting the link, I also tweeted it specifically to @Cmdr_Hadfield to acknowledge him.

After I sent that tweet our family went off to a BBQ at Harrison Lake where we had no cell service. It was time for me to be with my family and I was happy to unplug and be with them. I didn’t think that my tweet to Commander Hadfield would be noticed, let alone rock my world! After we came back within range of cell service I thought I’d check to see if at had any twitter messages…there were MANY from people who do not follow me. I checked my blog…also many comments from people who do not follow me! Then I checked my blog stats. By 9pm last night over 3700 people had read that blog post. WHAT?!? I’m usually lucky if I have 100 views per post! As of writing this post, OVER 5300 people have read my post!

Then David came into the room and said “Mom, did you SEE THIS?!?”

I was stunned. Apparently Commander Hadfield had not only READ my blog post, but he also SHARED it out on his social networks! His Twitter, Facebook and Tumbler all had links to my blog and I didn’t even know it because I wasn’t @mentioned on Twitter (which lets me know there is a message for me or a response to my tweet) and I had been out of cell range and couldn’t check Twitter or Facebook all evening.

Because of this one act of kindness in posting about my blog, Commander Hadfield has helped bring positive, encouraging comments for David from all over the world! Thank you, Commander Hadfield for sharing our story, and thank you for being such a wonderful role model for all of us.

Reach for the Stars

I blogged not too long ago about allowing our kids to choose the direction they are to take in life. At the time I was referring to my son who was hoping to get the part of Shrek in his school production of “Shrek The Musical”, but it really goes deeper than that. You see, my son, David, wants to be an ASTRONAUT. For real!

This year, Canada and the entire world watched as Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. Chris became an ambassador for our country and showed the world in a way unlike any other astronaut what it is like to be in space. His twitter account was a sensation that captivated our family and my class at school.

Little did I know that David was observing Commander Hadfield’s amazing life in space, wishing that he could one day also fly into space. This is huge. David HATES heights. He doesn’t like riding roller coasters, yet he wants to be an astronaut. In fact, he wants so badly to be an astronaut that he is turning his life around to make it happen.

You see, David is a musician, just like Chris Hadfield. To see Chris record his music in space taught David that you don’t have to choose the Arts OR Sciences…YOU CAN DO BOTH! The music video that Chris recorded with Ed Robertson and the Barenaked Ladies for Music Monday is, I think, one of the defining moments in David’s decision.

Instead of spending his summer vacation having fun or getting a job to earn money for university (what I encouraged him to do), David decided that if he was serious about fulfilling his dream and becoming an astronaut, he should make sure he had all of the prerequisite courses he needed before he went into Grade 12. Unfortunately he hadn’t taken Physics in Grade 11, so his summer project became taking Physics 11 through the Abbotsford Virtual School.

So, our entire summer has been overtaken with studying Physics. It had been countless years since I took Physics, my husband had never taken Physics before, but we set out to support David through this really tough course in a very short amount of time. Disclaimer: I DO NOT RECOMMEND TAKING SUCH A DEMANDING COURSE IN THIS MANNER.

To say this summer has been a struggle is a huge understatement. Eight hours a day studying Physics is demanding no matter how brilliant you are. When you do the course in the manner that David did, you have no time to make mistakes or take extra time to learn concepts. Four days for each unit is next to no time at all! There is no margin for error.

Thankfully David has a natural ability in Sciences, so he has done really well on this course. We did call in help from others (it’s good to know a retired IB Physics teacher!) and did whatever we could to support him, but at the end of the day, David has completed a full semester course in FOUR WEEKS.

Shawn and I are so proud of David (as we are of his brother, Matthew) and are awed by the fact that he has taken this decision so seriously. Reach for the Stars, David… Dad I can’t wait to see you reach your goals (you too, Matthew)!

Edited to add: The publication date on this blog post is June 14, as that is when I had the idea to write it and wrote the first few sentences. I then left the post for a time, as I just didn’t know where the next few weeks would take us. The actual publication date was Aug. 4, 2013, after David had completed his Physics 11 course.