Fort Herriman Middle School


Twitter Backfires!
April 30, 2008, 9:13 am
Filed under: learning, reflection, twitter

It all started two months ago when I caught three girls cheating on a test. I made a poor decision and ripped up their papers in front of the class. Those three girls have been inciting the rest of the class for a couple months to near rioting. This class has been very difficult to deal with despite many long talks with many students. It is very frustrating. These students know exactly how I feel. Well, they should know. On Friday we had another talk about how they should behave and what is expected of them. Yesterday, I posted this on Twitter:

Whenever my students need an assignment, I direct them to my website and tell them to print things off my calendar. I have found out that a lot of them get to my Web site via search engines. What do you suppose is one of the results when you search for Jethro Jones? It is not my Twitter page. Nor does it rise to the top when you search for my name and Twitter. But somehow, the above Twitter post was one of the top results because one of my students asked me today, “Mr. Jones, why do you think we are your worst class?” I asked why she thought that, and she quoted the above Twitter post nearly perfectly and told me that her mom found it when trying to find my website. My class was surprisingly good for the fire drill, even though I didn’t expect them to be that good. So, one other girl asked why I hate them, and after being corrected, asked why I dislike them. I made sure that those were their words. I explained that they are my worst-behaved class. It doesn’t mean that I hate them or dislike them, but it does mean that they drive me crazy and that they can be very annoying. I told them this. I have not kept it a secret from them before now, and I have not tried to hide it from them. As I said, we have had many long chats about this. This girl’s mom was not upset or so the student said. She thought it was pretty funny, actually. The students were good today after another long chat. They also were much better at keeping the others on task.

Now that you have the background, here are my thoughts. First, Why were they so upset about this despite the nearly hundreds of times I have talked to them about it? They all knew about the Twitter post before they came into my class, because this girl probably told them all about it in first period. I think they were upset because it was public on the internet, and people could find it. They knew they had the fire drill yesterday, and so they finally understood that I thought they were my worst class (despite the fact that I have been trying to tell them that for weeks). Second, it is hard for these seventh graders to disassociate negative things. Just because they are my worst class does not mean that I hate or dislike them. They don’t understand that (hopefully) adults can separate the two feelings. I told them that they annoy and frustrate me, but that as soon as they are doing what they should, those feelings go away. Third, how in the world did she find that. My website was above all the possible Twitter statuses even when I searched for “jethrojones twitter”. I guess she could have found her way to my blog but I don’t know. Crazy. Fourth, this has definitely reminded me that what I write is available and can be found. I need to remember that. I don’t usually post anything controversial, but even things like this, that can be found by the mom of a student in that class, are fair game.

So, the real question is should I protect my updates so that I can’t be found on Twitter or searches?

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Some great uses of Twitter
January 27, 2008, 7:32 am
Filed under: learning, twitter

Somehow, I ended up at this post by a guy named Jared Madden. He talks about Presence Applications (PA) and how they are the new media and around to stay.

PA’s ‘bridge the gap’ between platforms and allow you to ’subscribe’ to a information source (be it a person or company).

So, PAs like Twitter and Jaiku allow you to use a cell phone, the web, a mini-app on your computer, or something else to subscribe to what (people) are presently doing. So, you can follow not just people, but also, oh, I don’t know, what about fire departments?

This is amazing. I already follow a company, Woot.com, on Twitter so I can stay up to date with the great deals they offer. I follow a guy who is a tech job headhunter here in Utah, just in case ;). And I have my regular network of edutechers: educators that use technology and push for more technology integration in schools.

Imagine in the emergency services world, you call 911, and they can autosubscribe you to a specific twitter feed regarding your call. You could get live updates of where the ambulance or fire engine or police officer is.

Imagine a news outlet creating specific feeds for a particular developing story. I am sure this already exists to a certain extent, but I just don’t know about it. Imagine notifying people of the election results in nearly real-time via Twitter.

There is a group that does a Twitter Story, called twittories where people contribute to stories in 140 character increments.

Basically, the world is open for new ways of communicating. Although it can be scary to imagine that, it is also very exciting.

Quick quote from @arthus on Twitter as I am writing this:

Actually, student implies there is a teacher and teacher implies that there is a student. Learner can be self-directed.

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Twitter and a Mini-poll.
January 8, 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: learning, technology, twitter

Let’s get right down to it. I would like to request some comments for my Political Aspects of Education class that I am taking right now. First question is:

What are the major challenges facing American public education right now?

The second questions is for Utahns and other informed parties that know what happened here last year with school choice and school vouchers.

After the voucher vote this last year, do you intend to vote for different legislature members this year?

Please respond to these two questions in the comments. You can post anonymously, if you feel so inclined.

Now on to the good stuff. I have been using Twitter since the middle of December. To be honest, I don’t know how I got started on it. I think that it might have been from my friend, Chris, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it was about the same time that I started using Facebook. Facebook mostly helped me get better at Scrabble (and connect with some old friends, I guess). The best thing about Twitter is that I have been using it a lot to help me get ideas for teaching. I mostly just read what other people mention, and I have met some really neat people and learned so much I don’t even know where to begin.

I am collaborating with another middle school teacher in Kansas on a wiki for the presidential primaries. I also got connected with some other edutech bloggers here in Utah, in my district even, and that is really neat also. I have felt so alone recently because I don’t feel like anyone in my district, even the tech guy at my school, is very social web literate or even interested in it. I just recently learned that one other person at my school does have a blog, but it is private and I have not received an invitation. I also have found other middle school teachers on twitter and that helps also because I can bounce ideas off of them as well as get brand new ideas from them.

I am so impressed with how kind the community has been in helping me out and using it as a tool to help others. 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