Creating a Classroom Twitter

 Creating a Classroom  Twitter?
Based on...
Simon Sinek's work  of the golden circle.
 Sinek suggests, first understand the why -  the how and what will follow.

Teaching the Teachers: The Role of Twitter in Professional Development

Some Collaborative Research...
suggest we
"Move away from technology being a means to an end as this does not ask us to question or understand the full nature and value of education"

Catherine Cronin  is researching
" current technologies can be used in meaningful ways to support learning and teaching." 

And A Shared Question...
The question I repeatedly ask myself is: 
When using Twitter in the classroom, 
How can I respond ethically and critically?
(This question is influenced and inspired by the work of 
Keri Facer, Neil Selwyn and Catherine Cronin)

This question pulls me into considering the future. 
How do I set up a twitter account for my class?

The critical question for me is:

Why and How am I  going to use twitter?

                   Why do I needed a twitter account?

"Not organised
Not controlled
No physical boundaries
Real time dialogue
Accelerated relationship building
 sharing of information
Users are producers"

1. Knowledge is a verb

I wanted to see if it was possible to use twitter to nudge into play a knowledge creating culture. A culture where the action of improving an idea through connecting with others, creating and sharing ideas, changeing thinking and where the action of doing creating, changing and collaborating was a daily class expectation.

Ask your self would Jane Austen or William Wordsworth be comfortable with whats going on in your twitter feed?
If your answer is yes,  then possibly you are using twitter as a super flash way of writing cordial letters to another class. 
If you decide  Austin and Wordsworth would not be comfortable then there is a slight chance you are nudging into play something that is more reflective of Future Building  teaching and learning. 
What do you think?  I'd love to know how you experienced this.

2. Creating a Space for Student Voice by  By Catherine Cronin

3. Digital Citizenship

A Classroom Twitter
A Professional twitter
It's a beautiful thing!
My Professional twitter @dianagracenz is the 'Why'. 
My Classroom twitter @MathsPirates is an exploration of 'What' the 'Why' might look like. Does that make sense?

3. Twitter can be fast and frantic! 
Imagine a room with lots of people who are inspired by the things that inspire you, excited by the things that excite you, then one person asks a question. You all hear the question, you all respond at different times in multiple ways! 
"The knowledge in the room is the room" David Weinberger's book: Too Big To Know

Check out Steve Mouldey's  blog post Advice For Twitter Chats. A must have in my twitter survival pack! 

Before you start a class twitter...
1. Check in with your school leadership team.  Ensure they know why you are using social media with your class and how it is going to be used. Sometimes our colleagues may be unsure of Twitter. Edudemic write an interesting blog post. Worth reading!

2. Reading: Should Schools Implement Social Media Policies? By 21st Century Fluency Project may be of interest.

School parent community is unsure about social media?
1. Share Frank Drew's thoughtful and informed presentation on Social Media And Your Child

When should I use twitter?
1. Daily. Same time every day is a great way to step into the practice and connect with those who tweet at the same time!

2. I use twitter for maths. See @MathsPirates

How do I set up a twitter account?
1.  Depending on how you use twitter personally or professionally I'd reccomend you open a separate account to your personal/professional one.

2. Choose an identity for your class twitter. I chose pirates and the curriculum area Maths. @MathsPirates

3. Choose a password you will remember!

4. Choose a profile picture that can be easily recognised by a young student when scrolling through a twitter feed.  Choose a profile picture that can be easily spotted by other students. Many classroom twitter profiles are too hard to see, even from an interactive white board!

5. I used a different email address for my class twitter. Class Twitter school email. Again, keeping things  separate from my proffessional one. 

6.  I keep my classroom twitter account open on my classroom teacher laptop. This means we can tweet in the moment.

7. Read a great resource by Edudemic - A simple guide to twitter for teachers

8. When your established. Have a go at understanding and setting up a Twitter list. 
Read the step by step process by  21st Century Fluency Project

How do I get other classes to tweet with my class?
1.  Choose a snappy profile picky. Easily recognizable helps students and families identify you.

2. Follow lots of other classrooms who tweet. Follow a large variety of class levels. Remember  learning and ability is not based on chronological age.

3. Thank classrooms for following you.

4. Send tweets to specific classes. Invite classrooms into a conversation or  work on  a particular project together! Can you include a twitter community that would not usually tweet with a school?

5. Tweet interesting images

6. Participate in @kidschatnz Hashtag #Kidsedchatnz Wednesdays 2pm. Stunning conversations about learning!

7. Participate in classroom conversations around the world.  Fantastic participation list complied by Drew Frank

8. Read about how Social Media is being used in education By Edudemic

9. Read about 60 ways to use twitter in the classroom By 21st Century Fluency Project

10. Read Tips for using twitter at school By Candace Reim

How do I use twitter?
I use twitter during maths.  @MathsPirates
My students are referred to as 'Maths Pirates'.
I was inspired by Dave Burgess's  book Teach Like A Pirate  Hashtag #Tlap13
My explicit classroom teaching is influenced by Tony Wagner's  and Andy Hargreaves work on their research towards creating Innovators.

1. Create and Share Specific Learning. During every maths lesson my students tweet about their learning.  The students want to put their full name by what they said. They are beginning to  learn about digital citizenship so we talk about safety at the same time.

2. Knowledge Improvement. 
It  is the intention 'Maths Pirates' create, connect,  change and collaborate through Pirate Challenges using twitter.  The aim is to be explicit about the changes in our thinking and where the inspiration and influence in our ideas has come from.  Through twitter I am exploring what could a knowledge creating culture look and sound like in the classroom?

An example can be found in  Pirate Challenge No.2 Create a Marble Run

After the challenge, students reflect on three questions:
- Hardest thing about the challenge?
What would you do differently next time?
Where is the Math in the Pirate Challenge?
After sharing reflections to these questions 'Maths Pirates' repeat the challenge the following week. Maths Pirates are encouraged to be explicit about where their improvement of ideas came from and who inspired them!

Communicate to your student's families. 
They will want to connect with you and share in the learning! 
I sent this notice home... 


Your child is a Math’s Pirate!
We are using a blog and twitter to assist us with our learning.

You can find Maths Like a Pirate blog at

You can find Maths Like a Pirate twitter account at

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to throw out a hook!

Hearty Swashbuckling Regards,

Diana-Grace  Morris

Conflict, Change, Ideology, Innovation

A Perennial Question:

Q: What is going to disrupt us enough to interupt the cyclic recapitulation, of linguistically dressing up, old ideas in a new way?
A: Understanding the critically astounding relevance of Moores Law and ideas presented by Brynjolfsson and McAfee?

Two weeks ago I was with a group of classroom teachers discussing the book 

 “Race Against the Machine is a portrait of the digital world – a world where competition, labor and leadership are less important than collaboration, creativity and networks.”

Suggests that with exponential growth and development of digital technologies sits alongside, in fact has caused, the increase in unemployment. 

In Brynjolfsson and McAfee's words"The root of our problems is not that we’re in a Great Recession, or a Great Stagnation, but rather that we are in the early throes of a Great Restructuring."

                                                 A BIT OF MOORE'S LAW HUMOR

Moores Law maintains that computing power doubles every two years. The exponential growth looking like an enourmous J curve!

To grasp the full picture of exponential growth Jane Gilbert talked us through a story which illustrates this outrageous growth.

Ray Kruzweil 's story.

"In one version of the story, the inventor of the game of chess shows his creation to his country’s ruler. The emperor is so delighted by the game that he allows the inventor to name his own reward. The clever man asks for a quantity of rice, to be determined as follows: one grain of rice is placed on the first square of the chessboard, two grains on the second, four on the third, and so on, with each square receiving twice as many grains as the previous square.

“The emperor agrees, thinking that this reward is too small. He soon sees, however, that the constant doubling results in tremendously large numbers. The inventor winds up with 264-1 grains of rice, or a pile bigger than Mount Everest. In some versions of the story, the emperor is so displeased at being outsmarted that he beheads the inventor.”

That tale is bracing enough, but there’s a kicker: The most profound effects of the doubling phenomenon aren’t felt until you reach the second half of the chessboard."
Brynjolfsson and McAfee, believe that we are only just entering the second half of the chess board!

Jane gave us a chess board and rice to really see this idea play out. 

I awoke the following morning:
My first thought was Really?
Then I realised I was seriously unsettled. 
So unsettled that it has taken me two weeks to write this post. 
I think about the students in my classroom and then I know I have the dreaded question...

Q:  Am I teaching for unemployment?

Following this question...

Andy Hargreaves spoke at an IB conference #IBAEM2013 in the Hague asking...
Q: Are we teaching for employment or citizenship?

Thanks to @catherinecronin  (Who's work and research interests are online and open education, digital literacies and social media in education.)
 I tweeted and tumbled over,
Selwyn, N & Facer, K's new publication. 

The Politics of Education and Technology

The chapter I read suggests that it is time we looked at technology and education in a very different way.  In doing so it is possible to race not against but with the Machine!

 Selwyn, N & Facer, K  write,

" .. instead of being distracted by our own (often priviledged) personal experiences of digital technology, this book  starts from the premise that we need to work instead towards understandng and acting on educational technology in terms of its complicated and often unjust connections to the larger society."  Selwyn and Facer pg 4

Selwyn and Facer suggest we need to engage with a critical study of Educational Technology

1.  Move away from technology being a means to an end as this does not ask us to question or understand the 'full nature and value of education'. 
2. "..disrupt the deterministic assumption that technologies possess inherent qualities and are capable of having particular predetermined and predictable 'impacts' or 'effects' on learners, teachers, wider society." pg 8

Selwyn and Facer are able to show that the relationship between education and technology is a historical and present day narrative about Conflict, Change, Ideology, Innovation.  

A few days ago @FDHarrington (A Secondary School Physics teacher) asked the question in his blog
How do we convince others about the need for change?
Facer tweeted a suggestion, plain and simple. 
"Start acting where you can."

Q: What does acting look like?
A: It is the process of doing. Be the change you want to see, include as many others networks as possible as diverse as possible. Have an open hand. Engage in activities that motivate creativity, change and foster collaboration towards ideas improvement and the building of knowledge.

Q: What does acting sound like?
A: It is the process of speaking up. If opportunities arise where assumptions can be questioned step in, up and out! Be reflective, speaking ethically and critically. Know your research and share!

Education for uncertain futures

We crave explanations 
for most everything, 
innovation and progress happen 
we allow ourselves to embrace uncertainty.

Alice Bell the science blogger for the Guardian and Editor of New Left Project Tweeted...

"Science thrives on the cusp of uncertainty 
and its cunning operates in creative ways."

I've been thinking about uncertainty 
and wondering about its relationship
 to the state of being unsettled. 
In the past I have associated being 
'unsettled' or 'uncertain' as a change blocker. 
Today I say... Maybe.

Over the past few weeks I have been talking to classroom teachers at different schools and I am stunned that they do not consider that they really need to reflect on their teaching practice, ask why or try new ways. I'm wondering if they are experiencing uncertainty or are wanting to avoid being unsettled. So of course, I'm now really interested in this idea.

This coming weekend I am attending the second weekend of course: by Jane Gilbert PCSS551-13B (BLK) - Special Topic: The Future of Education.

Nine weeks ago at the end of the first weekend, the group of classroom teachers, reflected on their current understandings of schooling and education and decided there were feelings of being 'unsettled'.  I said, "but I don't feel unsettled, have I missed something?"

My understanding at the time was that 'unsettled' came from:
1. Deeply reflecting on why change is needed in schools and education.
2. Explicitly discussing the myths in education, which we as classroom teachers participate in perpetuating.
3. That knowledge is no longer just some thing to be transmitted, it has energy and students need to participating in being knowledge creators.
4. That schools in the 21st century continue to be based on the ideas of Plato

For nine weeks,I have wondered whether I"m about to feel unsettled. 
Another word has surfaced to sit along side unsettled, and that word is uncertain. 
Thinking about the things I feel uncertain about in schooling and education and then asking.. 
"Do I feel unsettled yet?" 

Last week, I visited Google and typed in 'uncertain' and 'education'. I was excited to find the path led to another talk by Keri Facer in the context of Education for uncertain futures!

Keri asks a simple question:
 "How do we better equip our students and ourselves to think critically about the assumptions we make about the future?" 

Keri identifies:

1. We are not so good at thinking critically about the future.

2. We manage uncertainty by working in cycles. "Schooling being profoundly cyclic."

3. When we do think about the future, we swing from a position of radical uncertainty or business as usual. Keri believes we all need to move beyond these polarities.

4. We need tools to be able to think critically and offers a model called: The four orientations to the future. Keri suggests we all need to think about which orientation is most useful to students and ourselves and the context we use the orientation.

Two key questions for thinking critically:
a) How open do we believe the future to be?
b) How much agency do we believe we have to influence it?

After listening to Keri, I am reflecting on which 'orientation' I am currently working with. As this may answer why I'm still waiting to be unsettled in my role as a classroom teacher. I have thought hard about when I experience uncertainty and feelings of being unsettled and I have noticed that its during these times I nudge something into action. I nudged this blog into action during a time when I changed from teaching Year 4/5/6 to teaching NE/Year 1.

My guess for my teacher colleagues who do not want to step into change is that radical uncertainty or business as usual has put them on pause.  I want to spend time understanding and applying the The Four Orientations. Keri suggests its actually critical to be able to place ourselves within an orientation so we can work with education in an uncertain future.

Evidence-Informed Practice

I've been thinking alot about the 'why' to what I do in the classroom.

Last week,
 Juliet Twist and Lynda Carroll  reminded me of 
Simon Sinek's work.

                                                                       Simon Sinek

Sinek talks about the golden circle. Sinek reccomends to always start with 'why'. Watch this clip  and I almost think life may never be the same!

There are squillions of  amazing blogs and online resources on the ready to tell me about WHAT to do with technology and social media in all areas of the curriculum.  

Very few actually assist me with WHY.

During this year I have been using education research to inform the why in my classroom program. 

The importance of educational research being aligned to classroom practice was the anchor stone for a recent conference at Dulwich College / London researchED2013 I Working out what works 

Professor Robert Coe

I did not think using educational research in the classroom  was anything different until I realised there was no box in my planning template for the section about what research is informing my planning!  Then I started thinking, what would happen if every classroom teacher was required to place in their planning the research evidence that informed their practice?

Recently a colleague (after listening to Dianne Christianson and myself present SOLE) picked up the SOLE research  and completely turned around her classroom teaching. Our colleague took one good nights sleep to do this!  I was so excited about the speed of change,  I wondered two things.

1. How do we go about capturing such a process so other teachers may be inspired to try a similar process?
2. How do we instill a culture of  'evidence-informed practice through research in our classroom planning?

I spoke to Ally Bull about questions to best capture classroom teacher thinking. Thanks to Ally who whisked the following  questions up in a flash. We are unsure if these are the best questions, however they are something to start with. Do let me know if you know of other questions that really hit the spot.

Questions that may be helpful to you and your colleagues to capture the exciting teaching / learning moment. 
(The context for these questions is SOLE. However, change your context and you could be cooking with gas!)

1. What attracted you to the idea of SOLE?
2. How did you think your students would react? How did they react?
3. What benefits can you see in this approach for the students? / For you?
4. What are the down sides?
5. Has exploring with SOLE challenged how you think about other aspects of your practice? If so how?
6. In what ways (if any) does SOLE change the relationships between you and your students / between one student and another?

Karakia as lived experience

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