Tag Archives: Twitter

My Month as a “Disconnected” Educator–Part I

In Part I, I describe the Connected Educator Month and what activities I’d participate in if I were not so “disconnected” right now. In Part II, I describe what I have learned from being a “disconnected” educator this month.

Apparently, August is Connected Educator Month.

This is a project funded by the US Department of Education to support educators in building their personal learning networks (PLNs). Their site explains:

Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.

I consider myself part of the “hundreds of thousands” who have definitely benefited from the generosity and intellectual curiosity of colleagues around the world who use the Internet, digital devices, apps and social media sites to work and think together.

This month, however, I have purposefully disconnected. I have a massive writing project that needs sustained attention and work to finish, and so I not only unplugged, but I headed out to the mountain deserts of my youth, and next week off to a sleepy, coastal Mexican village.

Like today, I check in every once in a while (and for good reason, my bank has called, there was an issue with a grad student’s grade posting, and on and on). The occasional check-in is the only reason I have become aware of this month’s focus.

The Connected Educator’s Month site has created a (not so) user-friendly calendar of events. The New York Times has posted a quick read in which they asked 33 connected educators two simple questions that resulted in a great resources list—especially since several more educators answered the same questions in the comments section. And the P2PU (peer to peer) network has provided a starter kit that includes daily introductions to several types of social media and digital means of connection. (I’m posting that below, because I am a fan of its daily design. You can also download the entire .pdf at the starter kit link above.)

If I were truly plugged in this month, I’d participate in a few other things going on right now. These are things I’d fully support you doing for me in proxy:

  • I’d be a participant in Hybrid Pedagogy’s MOOCMOOC, which is a Massive Online Open Course about Massive Online Open Courses. These have been in the news quite a bit and it would be great to try one out from the inside, as well as have colleagues with whom to think about the affordances and constraints of the MOOC.
  • I’d be tweeting (@writinglit) and Facebooking (AERA Writing & Literacies SIG) for AERA’s Writing and Literacies Special Interest Group. This is a great group of educational researchers who continually push my thinking in writing and literacies.
  • And speaking of literacies, even though the #literacies chat is currently on hold until September, I would be tweeting with the #literacies hashtag via Twitter and connecting with colleagues about the demands and dimensions of contemporary literacies.
  • I’d check out the link a friend and colleague through a Facebook group sent me. It is to the new public-use, interactive online storytelling technology from the developers of the interactive online games The Night Circus and Fallen London. It’s called StoryNexus and I can’t wait to try it out when I return!
  • And the reality is that I would be engaged and learning in several other unexpected, serendipitous ways.

So, why not take advantage of this month’s focus and try out a few new ways to connect?

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The #literacies Chat is Born!

Below you’ll find the birthing story of the #literacies chat, a weekly chat on Twitter bringing together educators, researchers and thinkers fascinated by contemporary literacies.

Our first chat will be June 7 @ 7:00 PM EST. Skip down below to read the post I wrote to introduce our first topic or  just head on over to the new home of our #literacies chat: http://literacieschat.wordpress.com/ 

The Birth of an Idea

If you know me as @writerswriting, my Twitter handle, chances are you know that this last semester I have been collaborating with Emily Pendergrass (@Dr_Pendergrass), a professor at Vanderbilt, who was teaching a course in New Literacies. I was teaching a course on Content Area Literacies and together we used the hashtag #literacies to engage the topic with our pre-service teachers and the wider world.

Phase One: Once the semester came to an end, we definitely wanted to take advantage of the momentum built by having so many of our colleagues think with us about the demands and dimensions of contemporary literacies. Monica Batac (@monicabatac) suggested make the hashtag a chat…and thus our new weekly #literacies chat idea was born.

First, we opened a GoogleDoc to brainstorm ideas and within a week and with over 50 contributors, the GDoc was packed with fascinating topics ranging from the seemingly wide gap between in-school and out-of-school literacies to the role of multimodality in the digital age.

Phase Two: Drawing heavily from Meenoo Rami (@mrami2) and the way she moderates #engchat, we made a website for the #literacies chat to call home. At that site we will post introductions to the weekly topic and archives of the chats.

Phase Three: This is where you come in!

Our first chat will be Thursday, June 7 @ 7:00 PM EST. Please join us to discuss, among other things:

  1. What brings you “to the table,” to the #literacies chat?
  2. What are you particularly committed to in regards to contemporary literacies?
  3. What blogs, texts, links, quotes, i.e. persons, have pushed your thinking in regards to contemporary literacies?

Below is a description of our first official chat topic! It is a repost from http://literacieschat.wordpress.com/ where you can find a description of upcoming chat topics and archives of each chat. You can also find a description of how to join us on Twitter, if you are new to the idea. We hope you join us!

June 7, 2012 #literacies Chat Topic: We are Our Relationships

I find nothing more boring than the constant diatribes against everything and anything digital—in the ways they destroy our language, our relationships, our attention, our intelligence, our morals.

If you find yourself here, reading this, you’ve connected, you’ve attended, and I feel pretty confident in claiming that you must be a smart cookie. My experience in practicing my own contemporary literacies has been filled with such connections, articulated quite well by @MaryAnnReilly (who, by the way, I only know through and because of digital technologies and the literate practices that have followed):

On Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM EST we will be hosting our first official #literacies chat. In the following Thursdays at 7:oo PM EST, we will host a series of topics brainstormed by 50+ contributors with whom we’ve crowdsourced and connected to through—again—digital means. For our first week, we’d like to know what brings each of us to the table, so to speak. How do our educational, research and personal interests in contemporary literacies connect and build on each other? We are bound to learn quite a bit from each other as we share insights, resources, interests and concerns, but before we dive in, let’s take a moment to get to know each other. In a blog post about what drove him to study social networks and write his book Social Network Theory and Educational Change, Alan J. Daly, an assistant professor of education at the University of California, San Diego, commented:

Relationships matter in a profound manner, and it seems the more focused we become on the technical elements of our work, the more distanced we become from the idea that the social connections are critical.

I’ve been thinking of the power of these connections for a while. Around the same time that we lost Steve Jobs, a man whose drive made many of my personal and professional connections possible, we also lost critical race theorist, Derrick Bell. It was fitting that at that time I came across a quote of his that captured exactly what I was feeling:

However self-sufficient we may fancy ourselves, we exist only in relation—to our friends, family, and life partners; to those we teach and mentor; to our co-workers, neighbors, strangers; and even to forces we cannot fully conceive of, let alone define. In many ways, we are our relationships. ― Derrick Bell, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth (emphasis added)

Join us on Thursday, June 7, 2012 @ 7:00 PM EST to discuss, among other things:

  1. What brings you “to the table,” to the #literacies chat?
  2. What are you particularly committed to in regards to contemporary literacies?
  3. What blogs, texts, links, quotes, i.e. persons, have pushed your thinking in regards to contemporary literacies?

Digital Tools for 21st Century Content Area Classrooms

A group of us trying the "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" activity.

This is a Guest Post from class members of Language Acquisition and Literacy Education in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts, who are all content area pre-service teachers in math, social studies, music, Chinese language, and sociology at New York University.

This week we discussed the characteristics of communicating in the digital age and how shifts in online communication impact teaching and learning, as well as what it means to knowledge creation and sharing in our content areas.

Continue reading Digital Tools for 21st Century Content Area Classrooms