Why I Like the Edublog Awards #eddies13

It is the tenth season of the Edublog Awards, awards created in 2004 to promote the educational uses of social media and to influence schools in offering–not blocking–access to educational resources (read more about their history here).

Nominations closed a little over a week ago and now voting has begun. I am honored to be nominated for three categories: individual blog, individual tweeter, and most influential blog post for “On Broken Door Handles and Butter Knives,” the company in each is amazing.

What I Like: Celebrating

by Billy Hicks used under Creative Commons lic

The best part of the Edublog Awards, I think, is the nomination process. To take a moment to reflect on the people and ideas that have made an impact on your over the year is such a gift.

Not only do you feel good sending a little virtual “thank you” out to those you admire, but it also helps you remember why this profession is so great. It reminds you of the countless educators who tell their stories, share their hopes, offer their help to the rest of us.

It reminds you that none of us are in this alone, and if you seek out open arms you will find them.

What I Like: Connecting

If nominating people is the best part, the close-second best is connecting with new people, blogs, tweets, and apps. I love how the awards don’t just have a handful for nominees in each category, instead there are many.  Each category is made up of a list of recommended-by-our-peers suggestions of people to follow, apps to check out, or posts to read. I caution you that it’s a perfect way to get lost in internet induced procrastination, but assure you that on the other side you’ll be happier for it.

Here is what I am doing this year:

  • I am making sure I vote. It is very easy, go to the Edublog Awards website and click into any category that interests you. This year when you attempt to vote for someone a little pop-up box will walk you through signing up for a List.ly, a free service the awards are using this year to ensure each person only casts one vote per category.
  • I am clicking through to visit as many nominees as I can. I love these lists because I know every click will take me somewhere or to someone others have found useful.

Everyone Likes to Feel Honored

This award season will come and go. What I am most aware of is that it’s not the award that matters, it is the the huge role saying thanks plays in all of our lives.

Think of the last time you were given a directive, one mostly likely “due yesterday.” Now think of the last time you were given a specific compliment about your practice.

Those moments of thanks propel us forward. They give us faith in ourselves (and also faith in those who gave us the compliment). Think of ways you can bring these feelings to your community and your classroom:

  • “Nominate” others: think of those around you as if you were creating voting categories (most likely to make you smile; most creative use of chart paper; the mess-fixer). Then, go tell them, either simply by paying a compliment (I really admire how you…) or go further and create= a bulletin board or part of your school webpage to celebrate the special roles your colleagues and students play.
  • “Give out awards”: you and your school could organize actual awards or instead think of surprise good deeds as awards (offer to cover another teacher’s class for a few minutes, bring in fresh flowers for someone’s desk, pick up coffee, leave a sticky note message). 
  • Say thank you. Often.

On that note. Thank YOU for all you do, every day.

On Broken Door Handles and Butter Knives

A day or two before leaving for a long stint away from home, speaking at UW-Madison and then on to Boston for NCTE and CEL, it was a typical afternoon. Right around 2:40 my mother-in-law and I were getting ready to leave to go pick up my kids.  It is often a two person job–she was heading to our preschooler several blocks to the west and I to the bus stop for our first grader several blocks to the east. Shoes on, coats on. Routine.

She reached for our apartment door and it wouldn’t open.

Jiggle, jiggle, lock, unlock, lock, unlock. Nothing.  I ran over. Jiggle, jiggle, lock, unlock, lock, unlock.

“Está cerrado!” I said, not able to find the word “broken” in my mental Spanish dictionary.

“Oh no,” she said.

Both children are picked up at 3:00, we had fifteen minutes to get this door open.

So, we did what any reasonable human being would do, we completely freaked out in this order:

  • Jiggle, jiggle, lock, unlock
  • Shake the door handle violently.
  • Jiggle, jiggle, lock, unlock–with more conviction.
  • Imagining how to jump out of a third floor window to the street.
  • Get angry.
  • Call my wife’s cell phone, who was teaching and clearly not in ear shot of her phone how dare she HOW DARE SHE.
  • Call again.
  • Both of us call her at same time on different phones.
  • Jiggle, jiggle, lock, unlock
  • Butter knife, right? Thieves do that or something.
  • Call wife’s school in a panic and frighten the secretary.
  • Call my daughter’s school in a panic. (They were calming, they know how to handle this).
  • TOOLS!
  • Hammer, pliers, large and small screw drivers.
  • Dismantle door plate and begin to remove door knob.
  • Stop, bad idea.
  • Reassemble door knob and door plate.

By this point my wife had gotten the message, had left school early, was rushing home, by this point it was clear it was too late to get to the bus stop on time and (as her school calmly told me) my daughter was most likely on her way back to school at the end of the route, by this point my son’s teachers knew we were running late.

Everything was arranged on the outside, we were basically not needed.

Then.

by MichaelDiederich used under Creative Commons lic

I wedged the butter knife back inside the little open space on the side of the door, near the latch, and paid attention.  While the flat side didn’t grab the latch, the teeth did. The slightest movement! TWO KNIVES! I grabbed a second and like two little hands inch-wormed the latch open. Freedom.

Caution: broken doors

The NCTE and CEL conventions this past weekend in Boston were incredible, as they always are.  Joyful, exciting, like a homecoming.  There was also, just below the surface, a sadness.

At the end of my session with Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts on Saturday, I told the crowd that now, more than ever, at speaking engagements people seem to come up at the end and cry.

They cry because while filled with a deep joy for the art of educating, they are feeling crushed by the state of education. The many people in my life, dear friends or friendly acquaintances who have a gift for teaching that shines through their children’s eye, those people who are pillars in our world are all asking, “how much more of this can I take?”.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m seeing their faces now as I write this and am trying very hard not to cry myself.

I see you, my friend, the Curriculum Coordinator, and you Literacy Coach, you ESL teacher, you Amazing Principal and you brand new Science teacher, and I see you teacher I just met and hugged after that session, a big bear hug as we cried together.

Teacher evaluations,

student testing,

scripted curricula,

slashed budgets,

initiative overload.

This was not our routine. This was not in our plans.

Know this: there are always butter knives.

For me those butter knives are connecting.  At NCTE (as with twitter, conferences, and working in schools), I get to remind myself why I fell in love with teaching in the first place.  This weekend I shook Nancie Atwell’s hand (and tried not to embarass myself with gushing), I met Donna Santman… I mean, I have been in rooms listening to her for years and carry Shades of Meaning like it’s a map… but we met each other for real. I had the incredible pleasure of speaking on the same stage as Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. I spoke in hallways, turned and talked in sessions, toured a museum, sat at lunches and dinners, all with old friends and new. I stood back and saw the sea of faces in those sessions, hallways, hotel lobbies, and was reminded that we have the collective power to do amazing things.

Butter knives are different for each of us, but those butter knives are there.

My friend Paul Thomas won the George Orwell Award at this past convention, his butter knife is writing and speaking out for the lives of teachers and educators.

Jillian Heise received her National Board certification this past weekend, her butter knife is learning and belief in learners.

Penny Kittle passed out envelopes at a session to raise money to support more classrooms having books, her butter knife is supporting readers.

Heather Rocco spent two years organizing the CEL convention, her butter knife was bringing leaders together to refuel their own passions.

The list continues: listening to children, talking with a colleague, taking on a study, joining a twitter chat, writing a blog post, leading an organization, waking up in the morning and deciding to go to work.

You know your butter knives. Use them.

Epilogue

Once we got that door opened it was amazing how all of the stress left. Nothing seemed hard anymore.

We replaced the door handle.

It works now.

door handle

Summer Book Club Twitter Chat!

Mark your calendars and set your automatic reminders to July 10, 2013 at 8:00pm ET.

Join @donalynbooks, me (@iChrislehman), and we’re excited to be joined by friend and collections’ co-editor @pennykittle! Use and follow the hashtag #DonGraves.

At IRA’s convention in San Antonio I attended Penny Kittle and Tom Newkirk‘s session on writing instruction pioneer Don Graves. In the session they shared excerpts from their newly edited collection of his writings and archival videos, Children Want to Write: Donald Graves and the Revolution in Children’s Writing.

Sitting in the audience with friends Jen Serravallo and Kate Roberts, we couldn’t help but be moved by the clip of Don sitting at a large rectangular table with a group of children as he facilitated their conversation about their own ideas, their own writing.

It was hard to believe that there was ever a time when this was atypical. That there was a time when few believed children could do much more than brief prompted writing and sentence diagraming. That there was a time when the larger world of education believed that children weren’t mature enough to have their own ideas worth writing about.

Jen, Kate, and I got to talking about the pacing, the wait time, the careful listening. The session felt like a reminder of what matters most in education: valuing student voices.

Summer Book Twitter Chat

It felt natural, then, that during a #titletalk chat on summer reading plans, Donalyn Miller and I struck up the idea of organizing a chat about this new book. It felt like an opportunity to not just look back on the legacy of a pioneer, but a point of inspiration as we look ahead to the future of our field.

At a time when forces outside of our classrooms seems to be saying that students should write less and less from their hearts and more and more to assigned prompts, we can chat together about the vision we want for our writing instruction.

We will chat about the entire book and DVD, our classrooms, and our instruction.

Hope you can join us!

A Must Read from Scott Rocco

Scott Rocco is co-moderator of what is fast becoming one of my favorite chats (even despite the fact that it is at the bitter early morning hour of 7:30AM Saturday… though does repeat on West Coast time at 7:30 PST.  So, technically there are no excuses for an East Coaster like me).

What I find so appealing about #satchat is not just that it is a group of [mostly] educational administrators using their weekend morning hours to talk more education, but that it has become a place for extremely positive and uplifting problem solving.  This past Saturday, for example the topic was:

A morning spent considering ways of recognizing teachers and students?  Lead by administrators?  It’s better than coffee… a point I think I make every #satchat I am able to join. It truly is a jolt of energy at the end of the week, just read the #satchat archives for examples.  (If you are new to Twitter Chats my how-to tips are here.)

http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-look-inside-satchat-by-co-founder.html

Scott also has a very active blog “Evolving Educators” in which he shares his efforts to support the learning of his staff, peers, as well as his personal ever-evolving instructional practices.  I find his blog just as positive and supportive as the chat he co-leads, woven with a belief in every child and every adult.

  • This post on his district’s efforts to embrace tools for being more connected (including tools I only just learned of through this post.)
  • This one, his advice to other ed leaders: don’t forget what it was like to be in the classroom.
  • Or this, that as I think of all the districts taking on technology initiative feels like perfect timing for thoughtful values to keep in mind.

I’d encourage anyone to join #satchat… yes, even at 7:30AM (I promise you’ll forget what time it is a few minutes in)… and subscribe to Scott Rocco’s Evolving Educators.

Happy evolving!

I Broke Twitter. And it was Worth It.

Thanks everyone who was able to join me and @meenoorami for #engchat tonight when I guest moderated “Teach Students to Research, Not Regurgitate.”

…To be completely accurate, I guest moderated until this happened:

Twitter Jail

Yes, my friends, with around 15 mins to go… I found myself in twitter jail!  (Which I find hil-arious).  Twitter sort of kind of explains what this mystical place is here. A place I had never heard of until deep into moderating a popular chat.

So, note to self: Day of hosting a chat = barely tweet.

Still Worth It (Check Out the Archive)

It was still worth it, however, because I love #engchat and tonight’s sharing of ideas was another great night of learning.

If you couldn’t join us live check out the archive.  Start from the bottom and work up (it’s only 74 pages!) …And laugh as you notice me suddenly disappear… 

Or as @thereadingzone explains in a way that makes me feel less embarrassed and more proud of everyone’s work tonight:

In closing:

  • Join #engchat every week, Mondays at 7 pm ET.
  • And finally, hoard some Get Out of Jail Free Cards. You never know when you’ll need ’em.

So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat: From Lurker to Chatter 101

This post is intended to help anyone who has been a twitter lurker (some of my favorite people are still lurkers) into being a twitter chatter.

An older edweek post circulated on Twitter today: Why Educators Should Join Twitter.  In it Peter describes that in his early-to-Twitter, are-you-really-sure-this-is-for-me uncertainty, he suddenly became converted after joining a twitter chat (in his case the terrific #elemchat).  As you probably know, I’ve become a bit of a twitter evangelist myself, professing it’s power everywhere I go and for me, just as with Peter, joining in chats has been not only powerful professional development but also emotionally uplifting in those times that I find myself in a deep funk.  Like this recent #edchat archive, where I left the hour feeling amazing.

I’d like to share how I set myself up for an education chat on twitter to help you do the same.

Go from Twitter Lurker to Twitter Chatter

And just so you know, I personally think this post would be a million times better if it were actually a 1950s educational video on a grainy black and white film reel, but we’ll do the best we can.

(I’m very proud of that graphic, everyone.)

Step One: Find a Chat

Chats are typically one hour discussions, usually on a regular schedule (like every Wednesday at 9pmCST). Think of them as a party of smart people that you are mingling within, not as a typical workshop.  There are many people meeting to talk about a topic (depending on the facilitation they could be conversations led with questions or just very open) but it is nearly impossible to pay attention to all comments.  So your first step is just finding a topic you want to mingle about and the time the party takes place.  Here are some helpful ways:

  • Cybraryman (he calls himself a twitter librarian) has a very thorough twitter chat page: http://cybraryman.com/chats.html
  • Here’s a non-education-specific list from ReadWriteWeb that is a touch outdated but many of the chats are still active.
  • Or I often find chats when suddenly everyone in my twitter stream is using the same hashtag…

Step Two: Set Up

I like to have both my computer and phone, though you could do this with one or the other.  I find it helpful to have three websites open on my laptop:

  • I  have my phone next to me, using the Twitter App.  This seems to help me notice when someone has sent me a direct reply (more on this later in the post).
  • What’s nice about tweetchat (and there may be other clients, please feel free to suggest in the comments) is that it automatically follows that hashtag for you , meaning it only shows tweets that include that hashtag in it’s text.  It also automatically puts the hashtag in for you when you type, saving the correct number of characters automatically.  Like so (note – if your mobile browser is not displaying the images below, be sure to view on “Full Site”):

Log-in. Type in the # to follow (in this example #edchat). You can even adjust the refresh rate.

Type what you want to say into the box – you must stop at or before “0” characters left.

Et voilà, tweetchat plugs in the hashtag for you when you hit “update”.

As an alternative, you can do a similar move inside of the Twitter App by clicking “Discover”. Just be sure to click “All” in order to see everyone’s tweets, not just from those you follow. And note: while in “discover” the app will put in the hashtag for you, outside of that you need to remember to type it in yourself.

Step Three: Chat!

Depending on the size of the chat, it can sometimes feel really overwhelming.  My advice: start by replying to individual people.  In a very large chats it’s often easier to have small conversations than to try and follow the whole room — as I said earlier, think of it like mingling at a dinner party, not attending a workshop with a main speaker.

Advanced Tweet Chatting Tips

Here are a few more tips that help me (I’d love for you to add any others in the comments).

  • Mind your Qs and As. Some chat hosts list questions in an order: Q1, Q2, Q3…  And then participants can indicate which question they are responding to with A1 (for Q1) , A2 (for Q2), and so on.  If you come late to a chat watch a bit to see if there is a numbering system (not all have them), so you can be on the lookout for the next question.
  • Adding links for others. In the Twitter App you just need to type in the link and Twitter automatically shortens it (HootSuite does the same, as do a few other apps). Tweetchat for some reason does not, so that’s why it helps to have that 3rd page open – bit.ly or tinyurl.com or whatever other url shortener.  You just plop your mamoth url address in and it makes it use less characters.

Bit.ly for example turned this

Into this

Same link (56 characters) christopherlehman.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/the-book-gap/ , shortened (now only 13 characters) bit.ly/Py7t2h

  • Keeping track of links people post. I often find it hard to both follow a chat and open links, so many people use the “favorite” feature (the little star in the Twitter App and on Tweetchat) to hold something you want to read for later.
  • Keeping track of the fast moving conversation. Two bits of advice:
    • One, as I mentioned earlier in the post: in tweetchat, adjust the “refresh” speed.
    • Two, have your phone next to you using the Twitter App, it helps so much. For example, I have my iPhone set up to buzz me and preview a twitter reply to me (called “mentions”).  So in a busy chat if my phone buzzes, it’s an audible notice that someone said something directly to me in the room. I’ll look for it on the Tweetchat screen or if the chat is really busy, I’ll just pick up my phone and chat with that person through my Twitter App (note: in that case you have to remember to write in the hashtag yourself or it won’t show up in the main “room” for everyone).

You Can Always Read the Archive Later

If you feel like you missed a lot in a chat – which is very likely.  Look for (or ask the person hosting for) a link to the archive of the chat.  To be honest, I find them impossible to read in any logical way because it is often just a literal print out of every tweet, in order.  But you can still find a lot of really helpful advice and links. Just go into an archive thinking you’ll get a general sense of the chat and you will look for some helpful threads of conversation.

You Learn by Doing – and messing up is okay

Like anything, it just becomes easier the more you do it.

I hope to see you in twitter chats soon, not just lurking but sharing. Feel free to tweet me if you have questions or need some advice on chatting – or to any one for that matter already in a chat.  I find every education conversation I join in to be warm, welcoming, and supportive. All of us actively chatting in the education community on twitter really, really, really would like you to join us.  So don’t fear messing up–we’ve all done it before.

Happy chatting!

________

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