Tag Archives: Twitter

Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

Kristen Lamb, author of Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer., writes non-fiction in a folksy, easy to understand style.  Read like good fiction, the pages of this how-to book practically turned themselves.  Writers and bloggers can immediately apply her tips to improve their blog, Facebook and Twitter platforms.

In spite of the fact Are You There Blog?  It’s me, Writer. was easy to read I found myself highlighting, taking tons of notes, and rereading to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I had to discipline myself to keep on track.  My thoughts were screaming, “Wow, I need to go to Facebook RIGHT NOW, and remove my birthday, but I did a little self-talk “Take notes, Marsha.  Copy down the tips you want to remember.”  Because LEARNING SOMETHING is the goal of reading a non-fiction book, it IS a different skill than reading fiction.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts always lurk in my brain whenever I read now.  Across the United States, by the time they start high school, students will spend 70 percent of their school day reading non-fiction materials.  I would recommend this book for students from 6th grade up.  Common Core Standards also put a greater emphasis on writing than ever before.  Teaching students to blog, and having them interact with each other as well as others, means less editing for the teacher, more interest and commitment from the students.  For language arts teachers this book will address reading and writing standards at the same time.

Even young students can respond to a teacher’s blog about a topic.  This doesn’t mean that the teacher has to “write” every “topic” on their blog.  They can copy paragraphs or quotes directly from a book they cite.  By high school many students will have a Facebook account.  Lamb’s book teaches them to use it safely and wisely.  They also learn to use Facebook as a marketing tool to market themselves.  We often overlook, or feel too pressured to teach, the importance of the “soft” skills in education, of how to get along with people, how to motivate them, and get them to like us.  Those skills are an integral part of DOING social media.  Kristen Lamb integrates those skills as she explicitly teaches basics of blogging and using social media.

“Giving is when you take your time to read their blog, to repost their story and to congratulate their writing goal on Twitter. Giving is when you write a nice review of someone else’s book unsolicited and expecting nothing in return.”

Lamb, Kristen (2011-05-07). Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer (Kindle Locations 572-573). Who Dares Wins Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Students will learn that “people love feeling good” and that “a positive attitude is a key ingredient for a hit blog that connects with others in a meaningful way.” (Ibid Location 1519)

These soft skills that students learn will be useful to them no matter what profession or trade they choose to enter during or after high school.

Kristen’s book is available on Kindle, which means that note taking will be easy for students (and teachers who are beginning bloggers).  When a quote is copied from the book on the computer the biographical information is automatically noted.  WHEW!  That was EASY!

Mike Lebsock, 8th grade history teacher, President San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social STudies (SJVCSS), John Adams in Colonial Williamsburg

Mike Lebsock, an eighth grade teacher in Fresno, posts a blog entry then has his students write one response to his post, and one response to another student’s response.  How easy that would be using this book.  The teacher doesn’t have to write his or her own content.  He or she simply copies right from the book into the blog.  The biographical information is automatically there as well.

Are You There Blog? is easy to read, but that doesn’t mean that there is NO academic vocabulary.  The academic vocabulary is primarily content-based and can be grasped within the context of the book.  However, for students using Kindle or other e-readers, they can open a window with the definition of an unfamiliar word by just passing the cursor over a word and stopping.

When I started this review, I struggled with recommending it for Common Core because it was such an enjoyable book to read.  After analyzing how the book can actually meet many elements of Common Core I have changed my mind.  Non-fiction books can be enjoyable, and enjoyable books can be academic.  Read and enjoy Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer. with your students – - or just for yourself.

Today’s Featured Blog 

My blogging friend Rommel, has taught me so much.  He was one of my first visitors before I knew squat, he had nominated me for an award.  I didn’t even understand what an award was.  He kept coming back when I was working full time+, and hardly had a second to visit any blogs, there was Rommel commenting on my blog.   Then recently he featured me on his site.  Who knew?  What a kind thing to do.  So it is with great honor and pride that I introduce my first Featured Blogger, Rommel.  The post that I chose, although he writes great travel stories, posts amazing pictures from all over the world, I fell in love with Once in A Blue Moon, a poem.  This is how it starts.

Another special post.

Here goes…

You know what…. I need to pause… An image first.

Can’t you just picture a vibrant young man venturing out on unfamiliar waters, writing a poem?

TodaysMeet

On May 11 I wrote a blog comparing the use of Twitter and TodaysMeet during a  day of professional development day with teachers.  My colleague and I chose to use TodaysMeet instead of Twitter for several reasons.  We were quite pleased with how it worked to answer questions during the day.  It integrated seamlessly into our training.

First, unlike Twitter, it was so easy for everybody to begin using TodaysMeet.   There was no signing up.  I accessed the TodaysMeet.com site and with the teachers watching me, signed in, created a chatroom, and demonstrated entering a comment.  We allowed the teachers a few minutes to find the chatroom and enter a comment or two.  The entire process took approximately 5 minutes to make sure that everyone who had a cell phone or computer could work the system.

During the training TodaysMeet worked in two ways.  Most importantly the online program functioned as an electronic blackboard or more currently a whiteboard.  Many teachers have students use individual whiteboards at their desks, and students will respond to the teacher’s question on their whiteboards so that teachers can quickly see their students’ responses and assess them.  TodaysMeet worked in the same way.  Teachers received information about the Common Core Standards via a 15-20 minute lecture.  After the lecturer finished, I asked the teachers to discuss in their groups what they learned from the lecture.  Then one person’s job in each group was to scribe one sentence from the whole group’s summarization  of what they had learned, and press “say”.

In a classroom, even with children, I would recommend using TodaysMeet over the non-digital tool, whiteboards, for several reasons.  First of all, most people can type faster than they can write.  Secondly, it is not messy, and you don’t have to erase the white board before you move on to the next answer.  Finally, the answers are saved on TodaysMeet board for up to two months – your choice.  One of the things that I hate about white boards is that once the teacher has checked the answers, the students erase their answers, no one can ever retrieve that information.

Besides using TodaysMeet as a white board, we also used it as a “Parking Lot.”  In our office if a workshop participant has a question, they write it on a post-it note, and post the question on a piece of poster paper labeled “Parking Lot”.  Occasionally during the day the trainer goes to the public display and answers any questions that might have arisen during the training.  A time-saving quality of TodaysMeet is that no one has to retype the ideas that are written on post-it notes .  This also eliminates possible typographical errors.  Additionally, the colleague presenter in the training has the option to immediately answer a participant’s question, and the speaker’s presentation is never interrupted.  Most importantly, these questions are saved for up to two months so that any attendee can look up the question and answer.  Another way that we used TodaysMeet was for the presenter’s colleague to simply take notes during a lively classroom discussion.  The students could later access these notes.

I was not a participant, but judging from how many people wrote comments, I would say that our use of TodaysMeet was quite successful.  There were no white boards to clean after the day’s presentation.  The comments were all helpful, and sometimes humorous, but never inappropriate.  Obviously, I would use the online whiteboard, TodaysMeet, again.  Next time I would try it with students.  By the way, I have no vested interest in the company that produced this program.  I just enjoyed using it.

Twitter v TodaysMeet

Preparing for the implementation of the Common Core Standards includes implementing a high degree of technology.  As a professional developer, I need to be able to model the use of how readily available technology can be used in the classroom.  Yesterday my colleague, Mary, and I experimented with whether to use Twitter or TodaysMeet during our next presentation.

According to Rosa Golijan who wrote a blog article about Twitter over a year ago, there were 175 million registered Twitter users, not that all of them used it.  If any of those 175 million folks are like me they might have created an account to try it once.  I did, and then the account just sat there until I forgot my password and eventually even forgot I had opened the account.  I started a new account when I started this website a month ago today.  I am proud to have 37 tweets, follow 42 people, and have 16 followers on the account I use.  In comparison I learned about TodaysMeet last Friday, used it during a phone meeting on Wednesday, and practiced with Mary yesterday.

You can use either of these services as what we call a parking lot during a meeting or professional development to allow attendees to interact with each other and the presenter without verbally disrupting the presentation.  Engaged participants are actively listening.  They usually make comments to people either about the meeting or an idea that they are having at the moment.  When I started going to meetings, we whispered to each other, wrote notes and passed them all over the room, or waited until we had a free minute to talk.  By that time we usually talked about something else.

Technology makes this learning process easier.  With Twitter you do not have to  have an account to follow a meeting.  You go to Twitter.com/search and enter the name of the meeting that the presenter gives preceded by a hash mark (#).

The hash code will take you to a place where you can see all the notes that other people attending the meeting are posting.  You can write a post to make a comment or ask a question.  The presenter might have a co-presenter or a designated person who is following the tweets.  When an important comment or question is made, the designated person may either answer the tweet directly, interrupt the speaker, or even text the speaker that she/he has a question to answer.

TodaysMeet works the same way, but you don’t have to sign up for an account, or even use your real name.   The presenter creates a chat room, and you go to TodaysMeet.com/name of meeting, enter your name and join.

The presenter can press the twitter button at the bottom to invite all tweeters to the meeting.  This also takes people to the TodaysMeet chat room, not to Twitter.

Once you press join, you have entered the room and may start making comments.  You have up to 140 characters, then you press say.

The presenter can use these comments to tailor the meeting to the needs of the participants.  The comments are saved online for up to a month, and anyone can access them, but ultimately they disappear.

Twitter is different.  The comments are saved indefinitely.  Twitter screens out all of the other tweets so that all you see are the comments made during the meeting, otherwise it would be very distracting.  Another major difference with Twitter is that people can access information from other Twitter users’ profiles.  This can be helpful since networking is a great benefit to attending a training or meeting.  It is also nice to know about the presenter as well.

Mary and I decided to try only one of the two options so that we wouldn’t confuse ourselves or our participants.  Which one would you use or would you use both at the same time?  I’ll tell you after next week which one we chose, and how it went.  If you have any advice for us in the meantime, leave a comment.