Personalized Hashtags

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In my position, I spend a lot of time trying to convince educators to get connected by using Twitter and/or other social media platforms. Most of the time I tout the connections that can be made and how those newly formed connections can help to transform classrooms and schools. This blog post isn’t about all of those critical reasons but how to use hashtags as a way to document and retrieve what you are doing in the classroom.  I recently attended an EdCamp in Central Illinois and was in a session discussing the need for and importance of connecting with others on social media. I didn’t need to be convinced, but when I mentioned the beauty of a service called Wakelet in being able to gather Tweets to help others see the power of connections, the light bulb starting going off. Simply put, Wakelet is a curation tool that allows you to add PDFs, links, images, Youtube videos, and Tweets all in a visually striking way. Here is an example of a Wakelet I made to show others the benefits of Seesaw. I started thinking about how teachers could leverage the power of hashtags to demonstrate their professional growth. I also need to give some credit to Carrie Bauchcum for helping me think through my ideas.

Hashtags are a way of categorizing information on social media sites like Twitter. While some users craft hashtags that are funny and sometimes only for one time use, consistent hashtags are a powerful way of being able to find information. Going to Twitter and searching #GrowthMindset will provide you with a plethora of information about the topic. Results might include GIFs, blog posts, images, etc. and can serve as a starting point for an exploration into this topic. My thought…what if we used personalized hashtags (#personalizedHT) to share information that we want to show others about what we are doing in our classroom and/or school?

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There is probably a familiarity with the Danielson Framework as many districts use this model for teacher evaluations. Teachers are asked to provide specific evidence under each of the domains to help evaluators rate their overall efficacy. I think it is a common practice to leave this evidence gathering process to the last moment and then frantically try to gather what is needed for the summative evaluation. Imagine for a moment teachers working throughout the year to capture this evidence and sharing out the story of their classroom and pedagogy using Twitter. Each post could have a school hashtag as well as a personalized hashtag (#PersonalizedHT). I might post an image of a group of students effectively using the flexible seating in my room. Adding a hashtag like #sturm2e would record this as a piece of evidence for Domain 2e- Organizing Physical Space. This process would continue throughout the year and might include personal reflections, uploaded videos, self-reflections posts using an app like Periscope. The important part is that each Tweet is “coded” with at least one domain based on a specific personalized hashtag. Just a quick note on hashtags–No one owns them so if you come up with something really catchy, others can use it. Bland and boring might be a good rule of thumb for these hashtags.

Enter Wakelet. I love it because you can link your Twitter account to the service and pull in Tweets by account or hashtag. The person viewing the shared Wakelet does not have to have a Twitter account to be able to see the Tweets you have added. You see where I am going with this?? Create a Wakelet for each domain and every week or so (Twitter only allows Tweets to be searched 2 weeks back on Wakelet, though you can search for and add individual Tweets at any time while in Twitter) and do a search for the hashtags that corresponds to the relevant domain. This evidence is not limited to Tweets. You can add other items to the Wakelet to help present an accurate, real-world portrayal of you as a professional.  Each Wakelet can be shared using a link with anyone needing to see the information.

I am excited to start using #PersonalizedHTs to document my learning and growth as an educator. How do you see them being used for yourself?

Don Sturm (@sturmdon)

The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags

Wakelet: A how-to guide for the skeptical educator

The Educator’s Guide to Wakelet

The WOW-Factor!

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You may have recently seen posts on social media warning about the dangers of screen time for young people. While I don’t want to take the time to deconstruct all of their arguments, I do get it! There are concerns about how much screen time is too much screen time. Most people would probably tend to agree with me that common sense should play a huge part in this debate. I don’t think a device is a good babysitter for an infant. I think moderation for most things is a good thing. The problem with this debate is that there is a lot of fear-mongering that takes place and not a lot of research to back up those beliefs. We are at a time in history where devices, like it or not, are an integral part of the world and we as teachers need to recognize the importance of this fact.

As teachers, one action we can take to counter the critics is to provide rich activities with the devices that we are having students use. We need the WOW-Factor! Convincing a critic is not easy when devices are being used as mere substitutions for what has always been done. Let’s face it…a digital worksheet is still a worksheet. Why waste screen time on that type of activity? What is needed is for students to be creators of content. This is where the WOW-Factor comes into play. Allowing students to use devices to make decisions on how they will show their learning will go a long way in showing those critics that devices do have value. This decision-making process should be an important part of the experience of school for students. The key…we have to regularly give students these types of opportunities. Will it make the classroom look and function differently? Will the role of the teacher change? Absolutely, but that is what we owe to students who are attending schools in 2018! There are so many ways to allow students to create that it would take many blog posts to cover them. Starting to use apps/services like Buncee, iMovie, Explain Everything, Book Creator, SeeSaw, etc. is a great starting point. These apps/services allow students to start with a blank canvas and create. This blank canvas is about them showing you and the world what they know and how devices can be used in an effective way.

Here are a couple of examples that teachers in my district have shared with me that show the real power of devices in the hands of students. When the technology nay-sayers see a Wow-Factor product created by a student, you have provided the hook to start a different discussion about the benefit of devices in the classroom.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Pz6cZv5dI

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GGSDE8Z7Gn8

Don