Twitter & Blogging : Happily Married

“You can’t have one without the other…” Frank Sinatra Love & Marriage

The Courting Phase: Getting to know each other

I remember the moment I realised the important…no…crucial relationship between Twitter and blogging. It was waaaay back…in 2012. I’d recently started a job at a new school in Indonesia that fostered a culture of blogging, yet I had no idea what this culture looked like or its purpose. We’d had valuable workshops to support our learning but I lacked understanding in the role of blogging. Connectivism wasn’t even in my vocabulary yet.

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I did what I thought I should for my first blog post: I documented the learning, posted some photos, added some captions, a few paragraphs…and waited. After a few days of dead silence, I thought to myself, What does an educator have to do to get noticed?

[Enter: Twitter]

I’d heard about Twitter, had been signed up for a year already at that point, but didn’t have the courage to actually create my own tweets (I’d merely dabbled in a re-tweet or two). After sharing my first post with my partner (and then Tech Coach) Tricia Friedman, she encouraged me to tweet my blog using a few relevant hashtags #pypchat #ibpyp and #ellchat.

What happened next changed my relationship with social media forever.

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My interpretation of how twitter and blogging nurture each other. Image from a PD I delivered in Nov 2013


Dinner for 2: Sparks Fly

Shortly after Tweeting my blog post, my eye caught a related article under #pypchat. I realised immediately it would be a perfect connection for our Unit of Inquiry. And so the dance began. I retweeted the post and followed the Tweeter. The Tweeter followed me in return, and favourited my post. Finally, I was connecting, and finally a relationship was forming. I had an audience to share my lesson ideas with and a community to learn from. Suddenly I was blogging like crazy! I documented as many lessons and activities as I could using my iPhone, then took time after school to reflect on the lessons on my blog. It was as much for my own professional development as it was to share the great things my G5 EAL students were doing.

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Evolution of my blogs over past 2.5 years

Once the PYP Exhibition hit, I was able to connect with several other PYP educators through twitter and share examples of how we were integrating technology with EAL students who needed support understanding key concepts and vocabulary. My posts even appeared a few times in various paper.li’s which continued to inspire me to craft my posts for a specific audience: PYP educators & tech enthusiasts.

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All that said, the biggest ‘Ah-Ha’ moment for me was when the connections went beyond retweets and sporadic appearances in paper.li’s. It happened when an educator from a school I had no connections with found my blog on twitter and left a comment. We began communicating over Twitter and email, feeding each other with inspiring ideas, articles and connecting our classrooms. Shannon is now the PYP Principal at BISS and although we’ve never met in person, our pedagogy and philosophy on constructivism in the classroom continues to drive our professional relationship through twitter and email.

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Shannon’s first comment on our class blog that detailed our Grade 4 maths inquiry  “How much is 1000?” in Aug 2013.


Sharing the Love

As we embark on our journey through Course 1 of Coetail I’m guessing there are a few Coetailers out there who are exactly where I began my relationship with Blogs & Twitter…that awkward first date. I guess my advice would be similar to anyone starting a new relationship…Don’t let first impressions turn you off. Yes I felt vulnerable writing to a global audience, and I stuttered and bumbled along  (still do) with a few awkward silences mixed in. But the reflective practice of blogging does in fact address higher order thinking skills all the way up to Analysing & Evaluation…and in fact even Creation itself (depending on the quality and content included in the post).

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This chart taken from Public Schools of North Carolina shows how Blogging allows students to operate at the top level of higher-order thinking skills.

We recently had the privilege of hosting Jeff Utecht at my current school in Switzerland and his Keynote presentations addressed the conflicting message of the traditional Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy diagram. His related blog post from Nov 2012 further unpacks this and he presents an reversed representation of Bloom’s Taxonomy where Creativity is at the bottom, thus illustrating that the most amount of time should be spent in that phase of higher order thinking. During his Keynote last week at our school, he showed us a third diagram, which actually inverses the triangle so it both visually represents ascending up through the phases of higher-order thinking skills, and accurately represents how much time should be spent in each phase. I scoured the internet and google images looking for an accurate model but have been unsuccessful. Thus, I’ve re-created the image Jeff showed us and give him full credit for this idea, as I’ve simply replicated what he showed us:

Blooms Inverse.001


Getting Comfortable and Settling into Relationship Norms

Now that I’ve been blogging and tweeting for over 2 years, I couldn’t think of any other way of teaching and learning. Twitter & Blogging have exponentially expanded my PLN and literally changed my life and the way I teach. Now that this dynamic is obvious to me, the real challenge is sharing this knowledge with other educators and, more importantly, students. Returning to the idea of Prosumers (Reach p.2-6), it’s essential that we model and facilitate an atmosphere of connectivism both in schools and in our classrooms.  I really needed to dive into blogging myself to understand the benefits professionally before I could get my students on board with the idea. As I mentioned earlier, my previous school had a blogging culture, but only a small percent truly understood the opportunities blogs provided. For many teachers, blogs were considered a useful platform for documenting learning, creating a bank of resources and connecting within the classroom, but the real magic happened once teachers took risks left themselves vulnerable for the world to get a peek into their classroom.

My grade 4 students learned a lot from their connections online through their student blogs and as a classroom teacher I relied on twitter connections to collaborate with other schools. One successful connection we had for a time was a Grade 5 Teacher at ZIS. This teacher had a fantastic class blog (no longer available) and presented open-ended math problems for any student to solve. My students really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in another class’ learning environment and it motivated them to write to a specific audience.

In my current role as Tech Integration Coach, I am constantly seeking those willing to push beyond their comfort zones. Blogging and Twitter are the pair I rely on to get teachers engaged in digital PLN’s. This article on Connected Educators emphasised the importance of bringing ideas to teachers, and focusing on those who want to sandbox and grow ideas into best practice. Hopefully, with a little time and courage, more educators will reap the benefits of this special marriage between Twitter & Blogs.

Ultimately, I think Diana Ross says it best: It’s a game of give and take…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlVxEAUqWU0[/youtube]

9 Replies to “Twitter & Blogging : Happily Married”

  1. Hi Jocelyn,
    It is great to hear your voice again, if not in person but through COETAIL. It looks like you have got stuck in to Course 1 and I feel behind in keeping up with how you and Tricia are doing.
    Thank you so much for putting together such an eloquent post and one that resonates so much with me currently. I embarking on a collaborative Course 5 project with 2 other COETAILers to connect our Art students, initially through Quadblogging. (I wont bore you here but there are a few posts I have written documenting the idea! ). I, as my students, are afraid the connections will just stop there and the global collaboration just won’t happen. I hadn’t really thought of connecting with Twitter or appealing to the masses to look in to the project, so thank you for helping. I have done individual blogs before with my classes but we are going to do a class blog (I have 8 MS classes this year) so it is more manageable. Do you have any advice for my kids on starting out? How do you suggest I integrate Twitter into the process and ensure some traffic and interest? I would love to hear your thoughts.
    Just out of interest, where do you think you are going next with your work in class? Do you still blog and tweet with your current classes? Would they be interested to find out about art, culture and connect with some of my (younger) students maybe? I look forward to following your COETAIL journey. Hugs, Nicki

    1. Hi @itsallaboutart…so great to hear from you and connect through yet another fab #edtech PLN! I’m glad that my blog post was helpful in your learning journey. You pose some great questions about how to extend the learning beyond the students’ immediate learning community. To answer your first question: Perhaps you’re already aware of #comments4kids (https://twitter.com/hashtag/comments4kids) as a place to promote and expand your audience. Quadblogging would have been my next suggestion so I think you are on the right track! I wonder if your students could create their own paper.li (https://paper.li/) and share it throughout UWCSEA (and beyond)? Students could feature related articles or just focus in on a few key blogposts with relevant themes. Also what role could parents play as the audience? I’ve been discussing the role of ‘commenting’ with the G1 team (using Easy Blogger Jr app) and shared this post (https://sites.google.com/site/bloggngwithelementarystudents/03-host-a-blog-commenting-party) which is a way to help improve parent participation in the blogging process.

      To answer your second question regarding where I might go next with classes…I would love to connect them with yours! Currently I’m working with Pre-K to G5, but art is primarily taught by the homeroom teacher. I definitely think those teachers using blogs would love an opportunity to connect globally and find new artistic inspiration!

      Thanks again for reaching out and putting us in touch again, I’ll be following your COETAIL journey too 🙂

  2. Brilliant Jocelyn!

    I love your explanation about the relationship between twitter and blogging. I thought I was the only one that thought that they really “can’t do without the other”.

    Sharing my blogging via twitter gave me an audience to share my thoughts. If not, I’m not too sure how many people would have discovered my blog. Knowing that I have an audience inspires me to write more and pushes my thinking to write content that is different from the rest.

    Yes, we are also inspired by what is shared on twitter and that gives us more to study and then more to write about.

    I keep on telling the new Coetailers whom I mentor that they really need to try twitter and that they’ll get an audience for their blogging if they do. I’m not too sure how many I’ve convinced. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I was promoting “self-promotion” and maybe that was distasteful to them?

    Anyways, it’s great to hear someone echo some of the sentiments I have about twitter.

    I had never looked at it as “marriage” before, but that’s a perfect analogy.

    I’ve added your blogpost to my “Are You Twitterpated?” Coetail Coaches blogpost that I am using to curate “must-read” links for newbie Twitterers: https://www.coetail.com/coaches/are-you-twitterpated/

    Fabulous thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

    ~Vivian

  3. @chezvivian Thanks for your feedback, I’m honoured to be part of the recommended reading! I think you and I are experiencing a lot of the same ‘resistance’ to Twitter, which is what prompted me to write my perspective on the importance of both. I think self-promotion and personal branding are taboos that people see as negatives. However, we live in an age where it’s a crucial part of how we connect and find our PLNs. Without sharing what interests us, how can we find like-minded thinkers and educators? How can we be inspired, and inspire in return? @triciafriedman once shared this amazing (quick) video “Obvious to you, Amazing to others” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcmI5SSQLmE) and since then I’ve been sharing it with teachers to further drive home the point about so-called ‘self-promotion’. I think we need to remind teachers to let go of unfounded fears (about their writing/ideas/opinions) and embrace and see blogs as collaborative learning environment. Please keep this conversation going and let me know if/when you find any other tools to help teachers feel safe to put themselves out there!

    1. Hi Jocelyn

      Coetail involves a number of paradigm-shifts in our thinking and experiences. It’s a good time to let go of our skepticism, fears, and reluctance as we have such a supportive learning community to help us through it.

      I try to encourage everyone to give new things a try during this time and to be open-minded. (There’s flipped learning and gamification on the horizon in Course 4!) They might be surprised where it takes them…

      We’ll keep on encouraging and supporting. Blogposts like yours are powerful incentives for newbies to risk trying-out a new thing.

  4. Jocelyn, I really enjoyed reading your post. It was a well crafted and thoughtful piece of writing that reminded me on so many levels about why we blog and why we tweet ~ and they’re all related to how we can become more effective teachers via better communication.

    I found the wedding analogy most apt….love a good analogy to help reinforce my ageing memory.

    Please keep making your thinking visible.

  5. Thanks for your feedback Paula! Putting these realisations into writing is a good reminder for me too, and helps me articulate to teachers the importance of connectivism in 21st Century Learning. I think every good ‘relationship’ takes time and effort from both sides. It’s only after blogging and tweeting for more than a year now, that I feel I’m reaping the benefits of being both a consumer + producer (aka PROSUMER) of innovative ideas. And..to quote another musical genius (New Radicals) “You only get what you give”, which has been so true on the Blogosphere/Twittersphere.

  6. Hi Jocelyn,

    I thought this was such a powerful article to convince people of blogging and social media, that I have linked to it as an example in a professional learning programme I have developed at my school (speltac.org). I hope that’s ok!

    Marcelle

    @mthouterman

    Marcelle

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