I have been on Twitter for over a year now, but have not used it very much or very effectively. Blogging is also new to me, this be my third post ever. So after last week’s live class session and the opportunity to do a live Twitter chat, I started to think more about this and how I might connect Twitter and blogging together in an effective way.
One of the main reasons I have not been so successful on Twitter is because I have found the Tweets that some people put out hard to follow. There is often not enough “content” in the 160 character limit or what is there does not grab my attention. Unless my attention is captured right away, I’ve been reluctant to click on the tweet to see if any attached video, document, conversation thread, etc. is of interest to look into. The second challenge I have had is being able to have some deeper learning or conversation about things I’ve found on Twitter. How do you do that effectively in 160 characters? Or maybe you don’t. Maybe it is like Alec said, Twitter is not about deep learning, but about making some connections with other people or with literature, videos, etc. that might spur on learning beyond Twitter tweets.
So this lead me to two articles I read on Twitter last week and retweeted that I wanted to not only share, but discuss beyond 160 characters. I wanted to connect the two articles together because I saw merit in them both, but I did not really know how to do that on Twitter other than to retweet the second one and in my tweet make quick reference to the earlier article. It then dawned on me! Why not link those Twitter articles to a blog post and share my thoughts on them. No 160 character limit right! The first article I retweeted was tweeted by a colleague from my school division entitled Letting kids sink doesn’t teacher them to swim and the second article was called When helping hurts. These articles caught my attention just from the titles, both suggesting perhaps different philosophies on supporting learning, but ultimately after reading both I felt as an education we need to do both!
My school division has moved leaps and bounds forward regarding the philosophy being giving zeros so that is why the first article caught my attention. Teachers in my division no longer give out zeros or deduct late marks as they know that best practices suggest otherwise. Letting students “sink” does not teach them to swim or prepare them to be more successful the next time. We have recognized that allowing failure does not improve learning, but with that a learning curve for teachers has developed as we learn how to provide students with the tools to not give up. It means more work up front, but in the long run, more students are being successful because they do not have the “out” of taking a zero. If they are even able to find moderate success because hold them accountable to their work, then they are at least treading water versus the zero, which equates to sinking. I think we have lots of work to do here yet, but we are moving in the right direction. Some might argue that if a student does not complete the work on time or hand in a project that a zero is warranted and that is the definition of high expectations. Rather, holding students accountable to actually complete their work by finding ways to scaffold them and not accept doing nothing is a true definition of high expectations.
Then in the second article I read about the potential dangers of helping our students too much. Using the examples of extrinsic rewards, over tutoring (or we could exchange that for the term scaffolding), deadline extensions, efforts to eliminate all of their stress, and overcrowding their schedules to allow them to do everything academically and extra-curricular wise. The article points out that sometimes too many supports and too many allowances can be detrimental as youth need to learn how to balance their time, deal with stress in a healthy way and work through things without constant support. There is a valid point here, that we want to provide students with the supports to be successful while in school, but also with the tools that will continue their success as the become independent young adults. So is their a balance between these two approaches? We must balance this so students find that intrinsic piece to drive their learning and development as an individual. I’m not sure I know exactly what that balance is, but it has me thinking about my students and my own children and what I might or might not do in the future to support their growth.
So there you have it, I used a blog to share my thoughts on two articles I found on my Twitter feed. I’m interested to know what others think about linking the two tools or how you use Twitter more effectively. I also wonder if the way I hyperlinked the articles above to the original sites is best or if I should link them to the Twitter feed so readers automatically see any comments on them there? For example like this for the article on helping too much. Also, is there a way to insert a photo link to an article to make my blog more visually appealing?