Category Archives: #socialLEADia

When sharing is healing

Yesterday, my family and I experienced a loss we had never ever felt (thankfully) before, but I am sure we will experience again. We had to put our dog, Ginger down.

I anticipated it would be awful, but was not quite prepared for the sorrow of watching my family be so emotional or how I would feel when our beautiful pup lay there motionless as she breathed her last breath.

We wondered whether we should post anything on social media or whether we should keep our grief private. We put the idea away for a while as we gathered all of Ginger’s belongings: her food, her favourite toys, her bed.

We were all exhausted from the sheer emotion of it. We didn’t answer the phone when it rang or pick up our phones at all.

Everywhere we looked, there were reminders. The silence was and is perhaps the hardest. By the end of the afternoon, we thought it might be easier to post what happened, so we could avoid that awkward question when someone asked how Ginger was doing.

The resulting outpouring of support and condolences was so overwhelming and touching and it helped me. And you may say, sure, it’s that dopamine high from getting likes on social media, but it was more than that. You see people took the time to send a message or a separate DM, or a text. A friend even shared a poem.

I take away two thoughts.

  1. For as much as people blame social media for the ills of the world, this was yet another reminder to me that it can be an incredibly beautiful and supportive space too.
  2. We will all be in school tomorrow still grieving in our own ways. I am reminded that we need to reach out to people in kindness every day because we don’t know what inner struggles they are facing or the heaviness of their hearts.

Thank you to all of you who made a positive difference in my world this weekend.

 

 

 

 

Digital Citizenship Week

Happy Digital Citizenship week. While I don’t philosophically believe in dedicating just one week to what I believe should be a part of our daily practice, it’s a great way to draw attention to the ways in which we are helping teachers and students understand how to behave in ethical and responsible ways online. I think of this week as a springboard for an entire year of opportunity to contextualize learning around digital citizenship!

Beyond Cybersafety

I am very heartened to see that many schools and teachers are moving beyond a fear-mongering-stay-off-the-internet approach to keeping kids safe online. I still get chills when I think of young Charlotte (whom I feature in Social LEADia) being told that her “parents must not love her” because they let her create a website inviting people to share their favourite books. I know we still have a long way to go, but showing students how they can contribute positively and creatively in online spaces is happening with greater frequency.

For example, it is good to see the new ISTE Citizen standards have included some of the wisdom that many educators have been sharing for a while now and shift towards positive. This week might be a great time to have a look at  the Standard Statements, reflective questions, and tips. Here is an example from the Educator standards:

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community. 

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency

c. Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practice with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property. 

Beyond Digital Citizenship

One of the things I try to do in Social LEADia, is share the stories of kids who are “using the vast reach of technology and social media to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others (Couros, 2013).  They do this by learning and sharing learning, by empowering others without a voice, and by being a more positive influence on others. You may argue that not all students can be leaders and so focusing on positive digital citizenship is a better approach. And I would agree, but digital leadership is about leading change and about putting ownership in the hands of students. It is about forging a new path for others to follow. Not everyone can change the world, but we all have the power to change the world of another person.

This idea came through loud and clear in the panel discussion for Edumatch which I had the honour of moderating to launch Digital Citizenship week with Nancy Watson of ISTE’s @DigCitPLN.  I brought together educators and students I feature in the book for a conversation around using social media and inspiring kids to make a difference. You can watch it here:

Resources and ideas:

  1. I encourage you beginning this week to have a look at the accounts of the students on this Twitter list and to check out the blogs & websites of these student leaders, while also taking a look at your own school community or classroom for kids who are inspiring others to action both online and offline.

By showing our students examples of kids who are leading (as Darren Pamayah does with his students), we show students role models they may never otherwise see if they are following celebrities and cat videos online.

 

2. Check out these quick visual tips created by Kathleen Currie Smith based on Chapter 7 of Social LEADia

3. Check out these Digital Citizenship Lessons in Two Minutes or Less by Nancy Watson.

4. Check out @DigCitKids ideas here.

5. Check out the various resources I have curated for Chapter 7 which are sure to help you all year long.

 

Please share your own stories and your action plan in the comments below.

Happy Digital Citizenship week!

 

Source:

ISTE Standards FOR EDUCATORS. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Change, Hope, and Thanksgiving

This morning, I woke up and found World War III trending on Twitter. Thankfully, it was far below, Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving Monday, and Thanksgiving Canada.

But still, it was on the list and as people continue to click on it and retweet it, it will edge itself higher and higher.

As one of many educators who advocates for the use of social media in the classroom, it gave me slight pause. And for a nano-second, I allowed it to make me waver. I reached out to my friend, George Couros about it, he reminded me that “the only way to fix things is to change them, not ignore them.” This is one of the many reasons why I value him so much in my life!

Social media has been a transformative force in my teaching and my practice. It has been such a positive influence on the lives of teachers and students who leverage it for good.

We can cite such an instance as yet another reason to shy away from these platforms, or we can think about the fact that there is a whole generation of kids out there who have grown up on their own on social media, without adult mentoring.  I remind myself of the many students I know who are making the world a better place and using social media and technology to spread the message. Joshua Williams is one of them:

 

This is the future I choose to see. This is the future that is possible. On this Canadian Thanksgiving I am grateful for a community of learners who spread goodness and hope!

New Learning is Hard

I recently created an e-book which I would like to offer to people who subscribe to my blog.

After several recommendations, Matt Miller suggested Mail Chimp. Perfect and easy enough, right?

Well, maybe not. He gave me an overview of how he used it and told me how to get started and he suggested Google Slides for the e-book. And so I set out to work on it. I read the instructions, watched the tutorials. I spent soooo much time working on creating it to my satisfaction.  I then asked friends and my husband to test it.

You may be thinking right now, really? You are supposed to be tech-savvy. I am, but new learning is always hard for me. Is it for you?

I walked away several times and then came back to it. I must admit that I cursed a few times. I obviously wanted it to look good because potentially many people would see it.

Through it all I wondered:

How often do we ask our learners (students and staff) to Create, Iterate, Tweak, Publish, for an authentic audience? 

What opportunities do we give students to learn things which are challenging and yet achievable? (think Vygotsky’s theory of proximal development)

What is their motivation to see it through? How might we create opportunities for intrinsic motivation?

How often do we jump in with the answers, penalize, or criticize our learners for not readily “getting it” when they are learning something new?

How do we encourage and make time for the feedback loop so learners can make what they are working on better?

Click here to subscribe to check out the finished product and to receive the free e-book I created to help you empower students to leverage social media for digital leadership.

If you have any feedback for me, please provide it in the comments.

Creating a Culture of Kindness

I spent all day yesterday curled up in a blanket reading Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It is an older book, but I had never read it before and wanted to read it before the movie came out in November.

I cried about a dozen times. I didn’t make dinner or clean my house. I just read and read and cried. It made me think about several things.

  1. Kids have been cruel since the beginning of time
  2. Bullying usually happens under the radar of a teacher
  3. Many bystanders often don’t stand up to the person bullying for fear of reprisal

I have heard so many people saying that cell phones are banned at their school because of “cyberbullying”. And though I am not saying cyberbullying does not exist (it is so much easier to torment someone anonymously), I know that so much cruelty actually happens in person first.

I know this.

I lived this.

I was recently given the picture below by my mom. I have very few other photos of me from elementary school. If you look carefully, you may notice my eye is slightly off. All I remember about this very important day (In Catholicism, your first communion is an important sacrament. In an Italian family apparently you are supposed to look like a bride), is the hours the photographer had me pose until my eye looked somewhat “normal”. My dress was itchy and it was hot and because we didn’t have digital cameras back then he just took picture after picture hoping one would turn out ok (talk about sharing an edited version of yourself even back then).

I really didn’t stand a chance at fitting in or being popular. Although my face wasn’t “deformed” like the fictitious August Pullman, in the story Wonder, many people would often ask me what was wrong with me. Or “Why are you looking over there when I am right here?”  It didn’t help that I entered junior kindergarten not speaking a word of English and that I wore glasses with ultra-thick lenses. It also didn’t help that we didn’t have a lot of money and that my mom made many of my clothes.

So it’s no surprise that I spent many a day sitting by myself, the butt of every cross-eyed joke, taunted and humiliated for many, many years. My teachers’ responses over the years? Mostly teachers urged my classmates to “be nice to Jennifer”. That really helped. I remember one day in particular when a teacher urged people to play with me at recess. That was the day when my classmates invited me to play hide and go seek. I was “it” and it wasn’t until the end of recess that I realized that they were off secretly playing another game. Another incident that stands out in my memory is when our class got smelly markers for the first time. Remember those smelly markers? Do they still have them? I was invited to sniff a marker .  “Julia” went around a group of students inviting everyone to smell the blueberry marker, only when she got to me, she “slipped” and it went up my nose. An unfortunate accident which was utterly humiliating and had me sneezing blue for a week. The glint in her eye and the snickering of everyone around me showed me that there was nothing accidental about this incident. I could recount dozens of other stories which are etched in my memory.

All of those memories came flooding back when I read the book. Then I read the Professional Advisory put out by the Ontario College of Teachers: Responding to the Bullying of students which tackles bullying (both face to face and online), and includes a self-reflection assessment which poses some good questions.  These points resonated with me and can be applied to both online and offline situations:

INTERVENE EARLY:

Research shows that bullying stops in fewer than 10 seconds – 57 per cent of the time – when someone intervenes.15 Adult supervision and increased presence can prevent bullying. Intervene early and often so that students understand social responsibility and the importance of standing up for themselves and others.

DETECTION
ASK YOURSELF:

How do I detect bullying?

How do I recognize power imbalances among students of all ages that might lead to bullying?

How do I spot behaviour occurring outside the classroom or online that affects students?

How do I respond to smaller, subtle acts such as verbal slights, use of derogatory language and cutting humour that may lead to more harmful behaviour?

How do I encourage students to safely disclose bullying behaviour?

CAN YOU SAY THIS WITH CONFIDENCE?

My words and actions show that I treat students with care, respect, trust, and integrity and that I expect the same from them.

You can teach whatever content you want, but if students don’t feel safe and valued, it won’t matter. Taking time to create a culture of kindness in your classroom will help you save time in the long run.

A few ideas

RJ Palacio’s Precepts from the book, Wonder

The teacher in the book, Mr. Brown, asks his students to free-write based on precept prompts. Here are a couple of examples:

  • When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” —Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • “Your deeds are your monuments.” —Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb
  • “Fortune favors the bold.” —Virgil
  • “No man is an island, entire of itself.” —John Donne

I really like this idea. Students could use Canva, Google Draw or a paper sketchnote to extend their idea and share and comment on one another’s ideas. They can share these  via the school and/or class social media accounts. They can find their own to share. This could become a weekly or monthly routine in the class.

Classroom Committees

My friend, Robert Cannone,  uses the idea of Classroom Committees. That is, student teams have responsibilities in the class on a rotating basis. They range from eco-team, to public relations team, to classroom design team. What impressed me most is how one of his students, Catherine, describes the experience based on the way Rob :

“Teams are like a puzzle, every person is a piece of the puzzle, and everyone is needed to complete the puzzle.”

Creating a culture in your classroom where everyone feels valued, can go a long way to supporting students who might be on the fringe of being accepted.

Compliment Wall, Kindness Cards

When I met Matt Soeth, from #ICANHELP he shared the power of a compliment wall which serves to create a positive culture in a school or classroom. The idea is that students create a physical board with post-it notes with compliments which students can take and share when they feel like someone needs it. You can extend this idea by creating kindness cards which students anonymously give each other; making note of which students are not receiving one. Extend both of these ideas virtually by inviting students to engage in kindness challenges online through their personal accounts or class social media accounts. If you posit social media of a place where you can “improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others (Couros, 2013), then that is the behaviour you will begin to see there.

Check out the resources I created to complement Chapter 10 of Social LEADiaInstil Empathy, Justice, and Character . where there are lots more ideas about creating a culture of kind in your class or school.

What are your ideas for creating a safe community within your classroom?

3 Ways to Save Today’s Generation

Do you honestly think that I am going to help you save our youth in this post? The real question is, do you, as many other adults believe today’s youth needs saving and the future is in tenuous hands?  Were you drawn to the title because it reaffirms your beliefs about this generation?

My post really should be called, 3 Ways we can address some problematic issues around cell phone and social media use.

I often share the example above. It is seemingly what people believe is wrong with today’s generation. And yet, the real story, is that the students were using the museum’s app to learn more about the painting. The media continues to circulate articles about how this is a lost generation. The most recent, an article in the Atlanta, Have Smartphones destroyed a Generation?

I was glad to see Patrick Larkin, a progressive and innovative superintendent, ask questions about the content of the article in this post to educators, We Need to Talk About Smartphones, and this post to families, rather than accepting it at face value and doing nothing.

The problem with these types of articles is they often paint issues around social media and cell phone use as very a black & white issues, and blame social media use for just about every ill in society. It then becomes so easy to share articles and bemoan the state of the world, rather than use our use our critical thinking lens.

In my book, Social LEADia, I assert that what we call an addiction to social media, is more a dependence not on the device itself, but the friends to which they provide access. This is a main theme of the research and work of danah boyd, in It’s Complicated.

The addiction narrative is quite strong throughout the parent and educator circles of which I am a part, and I am not saying that there isn’t truth to it. What I am saying, is that articles and posts which provide extreme points of view do not help!  Look at the article which literally states in its headline: Giving your child a smartphone is like giving them a gram of cocaine, says top addiction expert.

The article, published by the Independent also includes the subtitle, “Harley Street clinic director Mandy Saligari says many of her patients are 13-year old girls who see sexting as normal.” and of course, Ms Saligari has an extreme opinion on the matter, she only sees problem cases. My daughters and I had a very frank conversation about this idea which is not at all a reality for them and their friends.

What is revealed in near the end of the article is this:

“If children are taught self-respect they are less likely to exploit themselves in that way,” said Ms Saligari. “It’s an issue of self-respect and it’s an issue of identity.”

The real issue! Sending inappropriate pictures isn’t caused by having a smartphone.

So how to do unpack some of the issues so as to shed light on what we can do differently?

Use social media as a springboard to teach persuasive writing & critical thinking

A lesson I often did when I was teaching persuasive writing in English over a decade ago, was that I showed the students a letter that had been written to Ann Landers bemoaning today’s generation. It called youth selfish, stupid, and lazy. It went on to list everything that was wrong with youth (well before smartphones). Their assignment was to write a rebuttal using a variety of persuasive techniques.  The students were so offended and so were extremely happy to write back. One thing is clear: every generation believes the current generation to be inferior to theirs.

Show students some of the headlines,show them the articles. Then have students write a response to the source. Today, it is so much easier to send their letters to a real & authentic audience than it was back when I did this.

Another great thing to do is have students deconstruct the logical fallacies an article.   Noah Geisel did a great job deconstructing the article, Facebook and Twitter “harm young people’s mental health” in his post, “Can adults with college degrees fall for fake news too?

Start Conversations about Attention and Balance

I see a whole generation of kids who have been navigating online spaces almost exclusively on their own because we have refused to go there in school. Our current narrative prevents us from having conversations; instead we lecture and instill fear and teens, especially those at risk, retreat farther and farther away. Or we ban devices to avoid the problem altogether. And clearly, it’s not working for many.

This article shared by Kathleen Currie Smith, What Social Media and today’s generation did for my teenage daughter really gets at assumptions.  In it, the author talks about her concern with her daughter’s selfie-use and her apathetic friends, only to realize that she may have been wrong when her daughter is home sick and her “Snapchat” friends support her and cheer her up in ways she wouldn’t have imagined. This part stands out for me:

These kids proved me wrong over and over all week long. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Maybe all this technology, Snapchat, texting and selfies aren’t making them all crazy, self-centered bullies. It’s giving them access to each other in ways that we didn’t have growing up and maybe that’s not always a bad thing. I know that sometimes social media is abused and used in hateful ways but I’ve learned this week that sometimes it’s used in the sweetest, most generous ways.

Nonetheless, we know that balance, when it comes to cell phone use and social media are extremely important.

I really like this rubric (please do not use this as an evaluation tool) as a springboard for conversations with students about what fair and reasonable expectations look like. I know at my house, we do not allow phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom. These rules have been in place for years because as a family we value dinner conversations and sleep is extremely important for healthy kids and adolescents. Everything else is an in-the-moment conversation as needed.  A classroom is like a family and expectations that are co-constructed are extremely important for developing a healthy awareness of students’ own media use.

Use Digital Leadership as a framework for teaching and learning using social media

What if we looked at the devices in kids hands as opportunities to make the lives and circumstances of others better (George Couros). I’ve written a whole book on my ideas for this one because I have met so many students who are exceptional leaders in person, and who leverage social media and technology to lead the way for us. When I look at Joshua Williams, Olivia Van Ledtje, Curran Dee, Hannah Alper, Braeden Mannering Quinn, Aidan Aird, and the many other students  (follow them here) I have had the opportunity to get to know and others whom I continue to meet, I recognize that focusing on what our kids can be doing on social media will go a long way.

Together we can help students (who don’t already) see that they can use social media to:

  • Learn and share learning
  • Stand up for causes that are important to them
  • Be a more positive influence in the lives of others.

Let’s model what it means to be a positive force for change.

Let’s not take complex issues and over-generalize.

Let’s listen closely, ask critical and clarifying questions, and give our kids the benefit of the doubt once in a while.

You may be very surprised by what you see and learn.

I am confident that this generation of kids is more than alright; but like every generation before them, some of them just need some guidance from adult mentors.

 

Facebook for PD

I have been on Facebook for as long as I can remember.  It is where I connect with friends and family. It helps me keep track of birthdays and milestones. I know it tracks my posts because I get personalized ads & a memory pic every once and a while which usually makes me melt (even though it should concern me more than it does).

It HAS NOT been a place of learning. At least not until recently.

This despite the fact that George Couros and I, who have had lots of conversations about all things education over the years, challenged me to revisit my Facebook stance. I refused. I was perfectly happy keeping my personal personal on Facebook.  I was content to have my Twitter account completely professional, my Facebook entirely personal, and Instagram, well, that was where I was going to try a hybrid. But that was then. Now I know better.

Your social media experience is shaped by who and what you follow and your purpose. What I was doing was not wrong; it’s a personal preference, and though the nature of what I share is sometimes different, who I am does not change depending on the platform I am on. I am just me.

I have spent so much time and energy trying to bring people to Twitter. And once they realize how incredible Twitter is, they do love it. But over the years, I have also heard people tell me that they just didn’t get it. That the format didn’t fit with their learning style.

Personally, I felt like the connections I had made on Twitter and the learning that I was getting there was more than enough. Besides, I had an incredible, supportive Voxer group too. How much learning could a gal do, after all?

It turns out, I had been missing out on tons! I can still use Facebook for my personal connections, but I can also belong to groups based on my specific interests. In some ways, it’s similar to following a hashtag on Twitter, but in a Facebook group, only members of the group can comment which means you won’t have strangers jumping into the hashtag with their own agenda.

A few groups you may find interesting

The IMMOOC Facebook group, based on the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC, co-moderated by Katie Martin and George Couros , was the first group I joined that was educational. There are lots of resources shared about leadership and Innovation by people that I don’t necessarily follow on Twitter and who are awesome.

The Breakout EDU Facebook group provides a flurry of ideas and constructive feedback for people using pre-made games and/or creating their own.

The Future Ready Librarians group (9591 members) and School Librarian’s Workshop (4850 members) are simply AMAZING! I literally put out a question and get dozens of ideas and feedback. This is true for almost every post. Both are very active and supportive groups. But really, how could they not be. Teacher-Librarians rock!

The Edumatch group is an extension of the Edumatch legacy created by Sarah Thomas and made up of resourceful educators from around the world.

My Social LEADia page and  Facebook Group are an entirely new learning experience for me and I am very much enjoying the journey!

Here is what I’ve learned

(that many of you may have known for years).

  • I don’t have to be Facebook friends with people to participate or be a member of the group (unless I want to)
  • there is a difference between pages and groups
  • Facebook pages are being used by more and more schools because that’s where parents (and grandparents according to one school principal) are.
  • You can schedule a Facebook post in a group
  • You can share in just about any form (including Flipgrid) you like and there are no character limits.
  • Regardless of whether the group is public or private you still need to ask to join and need to be approved by a member (it can be any member).
  • There are groups for literally any subject area you can imagine.
  • Hootsuite is a platform that allows you to post to up to 3 social media accounts for free so I can share to Twitter, Facebook and Google + all at once.

 

If you tried Twitter and it just isn’t working for you, try a Facebook group. Once you play and learn there, consider the extent to which a Facebook page or group may work for your school or class!

What is your favourite Facebook group for professional learning?

Talking social media and Digital Leadership (and #socialLEADia Book Giveaway)

One of the reasons I wrote, Social LEADia is I am passionate about sharing the message that social media can and should be embraced and leveraged in the classroom for good.

Whenever I have the opportunity to chat with educators about it, I take it!! I had the honour of chatting with Vicki Davis for her 10 Minute Teacher show about my new book, .

You can listen below.

Vicki is offering a book giveaway for US residents

Enter here. 

Canadian residents, enter here

Winners will be announced on August 16th.

If you have longer than 10 minutes, I also spoke with Stephen Hurley on VoicEd, the other day with surprise guest Leigh Cassell (who is featured in the book).  Check it out here.

As well, for a slightly different perspective, I spoke with Segrid Lewis on the Digital Parent podcast which can be found here.

I am going to keep talking about social media and digital leadership as long as people keep asking me to and I hope you do too! I think the more we engage in conversations around the topic in school, the greater likelihood that we can create a movement towards the positive!

 

 

 

 

Beyond Distraction

One of the reasons teachers are so reluctant to have students use their devices in school is that they fear students will be too distracted to learn and that students are way too dependent on their phones.

I definitely see this behaviour demonstrated in school to some extent,

In my book, Social LEADia, I explore this idea:

Kids are distracted by their phones. Kids are far more interested in what Sally and Johnny are doing at lunch than the War of 1812. They would rather play a game than work on a school assignment. Guaranteed. I was easily more interested in boys than what any of my teachers were teaching when I was a teenager. Even today, I have to admit that I am more interested in what my PLN on Twitter is sharing than I am when listening to someone regurgitate information at a meeting or conference. I think we need to rethink our natural response to this and help students (and adults) develop self-regulatory skills and as Rheingold puts it, “deliberate media mindfulness”…

As a Teacher-Librarian, I don’t have my own class per se, so the line I use most often when I am walking around the Library is: “Is your device helping you or distracting you?” This invites dialogue. It presumes positive intentions. When it’s helping them, students will often show me what they are doing (and this is most awesome, because I have learned so much!!). When they acknowledge it’s distracting, they immediately put it in their bags. I don’t “make” them put it away, I invite them to. I also always share my own struggles with my students.  I will often offer strategies for what I do and invite other students to talk about what they do.  

I also work with teachers and students on self-regulation by asking students to set goals for themselves and having them reflect on how well they met their goals.

But I also want to acknowledge another reality and that is, that what students are doing with their phones goes beyond distraction. Kids are creating too;  we just don’t necessarily see it or acknowledge it in school.

Check out the video below,shared by a friend of mine, about how Steve Lacy prefers to create music using Garageband on his phone.

A friend of mine, Janice Leighton and I were chatting one day about the fact that her daughter, from a very young age, would spend hours and hours a day editing videos to the point that she was worried about her. She tried to ensure that her daughter had a variety of other experiences, but Emma would always go back to shooting and editing video.

Emma recently graduated from film school and is working in the industry. Janice said something that really gave me pause. She said, “You know how Malcolm Gladwell in the Outlier talks about needing 10 000 hours to be great? Well, I really think that all that time I fretted about her, Emma was just working on her 10 000 hours.”

Wow.

I love that perspective & it’s not something I had thought of before.

Do we realize that opportunities today look very different than they did even 10 years ago? Do we see that young people are creating those opportunities for themselves in ways they have not been able to do before?  I am not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned with obsessive behaviour–moderation is definitely important. But perhaps we might need to think differently about what our kids are actually doing with their devices and not assume that they are “wasting time”.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that we are reluctant for students to use their phones to work on projects. A few times when co-teaching, students asked if they could work on their own devices and the teacher at first didn’t feel comfortable with it. I encouraged the teacher because honestly, I know that I feel more comfortable with my own device because I know how it works. We want our students to create without barriers. Sometimes an unfamiliar device can be a barrier.

I think that perhaps I need to change the question I ask my students.  I will now start to ask,

Is your device helping you or distracting you or are you creating something amazing with it?

 

#WeLeadBy Student Digital Leadership at its best

In my book, Social LEADia I highlight a student Twitter chat (@AMDSBKidsChat) created by Leigh Cassell and Nicole Kaufmann. This idea has inspired a group of Ontario leaders (including myself) to organize a province-wide student-chat #ONedSsChat beginning in October. If we, as educators benefit from this format, then it might be a great way to show students how they might use Twitter productively and for learning?

Then a few days ago, I met Isaiah Sterling who is high school student from Missouri, who decided he would like to create and moderate his own Twitter chat: #weleadby. Isaiah sites Dave Burgess and Beth Houf as educators and leaders who took the time to share and support him.  It even inspired elementary principal, Lance McClard to write a blog post:

Will you be that caring adult who supports a student who demonstrates initiative in both online and offline spaces?

Give Isaiah a follow and check out his blog after you read his reflection below:

Reflection: Moderating my first Twitter chat as a student digital leader #weleadby

As a student, I love to share, inform, and grow in my student leadership efforts with the everyday use of social media. Over the years, I’ve done just that. Recently, I was wondering what my next big move in student leadership with the use of social media would be. Something extraordinary crossed my mind, Twitter chats. I always see HUGE Twitter users creating and moderating their owns chats, so I figured I could do the same even as a student. I knew it was time to show my true inner digital leader… Guess what? It worked. Just like Leigh Ragsdale (@leighmragsdale on Twitter) says, “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” Through all this, #weleadby was born. The chat focuses on leadership in any area of life be that personally, at work, educationally, etc.

It took me about an hour or two to gather the best questions for the chat and create graphics for each of them even though the chat only consisted of four questions! I wanted to make sure everything was perfect for my chat participants.

Scheduling and creating graphics wasn’t all it took. I knew I had to build my participant base! Therefore, I created a post announcing the upcoming chat and tagged well known and respected educators like Dave Burgess and Beth Houf. At first, I thought to myself…”Oh they are so busy!! They won’t see and share a tweet a student leader from southeast Missouri that was trying to share his chat time to a lot of people!” BUT, they were instrumental in helping me build my participant base! Dave, Beth, and a lot more educators helped me build that base by retweeting and telling their followers what was going to happen. Through this, leaders and educators from everywhere started replying saying that they’d join! All I could do at the time was thank them and hope they’d follow through. I’d like to say that this was in a two day time period! Just amazing! As a student digital leader, I knew I had to bring a sense of confidence and belief in this chat! Beth, Dave, and others were so amazing at helping me maintain just that.

There were lots of steps in preparing for this chat.  Before the chat, I knew I’d have to use something to schedule the guided questions that would be used for guests to interact upon. I had some background experience in HootSuite, so I decided that would have to do. HootSuite is yet another social media dashboard tool that allows users to schedule tweets for anytime of the day they’d like. I scheduled tweets with questions and took time to schedule tweets that prepared guests for the next question. It took me forever to decide how far apart I wanted these tweets to be, but in the end I decided five minutes was perfect.

Not only did I just schedule text, I also made graphics for each of the tweets. I used an app on my phone called Typorama. Typorama allows users to create beautiful graphics for anything they wish easily.

I’ll always remember sending out the tweet that mentioned the chat started in five minutes. At this point, I was extremely nervous hoping that people would participate. Five minutes later, my phone and computer would not stop beeping from the overwhelming response. My HootSuite dashboard froze several times due to all the activity coming through. I told myself I should interact with the guests that are participating. Most messages after the guests would reply would be just a quick thank you or happy you joined! If I saw something really appealing, I retweeted it and commented more on their tweet. This happened A LOT. I found myself retweeting and commenting on almost everything that came back in the #weleadby search. I was able to connect with so many great, enthusiastic, motivating, and encouraging leaders from all different locations! I do admit it was VERY overwhelming at first, but after awhile the fire for the why behind this chat kicked in. I want to connect with leaders and want leaders to connect with other leaders to promote, motivate, and engage leadership efforts anywhere in life. Here are some pictures from the chat:

I’ve always been a social media and leadership fanatic. I’m honored to be able to combine the two and show my student digital leadership! What an amazing experience I know’ll known I’ll never forget.