Self Confidence and Modeling: Yes, Teachers I Am Talking To You!

I have given two presentations over the last few weeks that each contained a section about me speaking on teachers modeling their message and how they work and operate. Throughout these two presentations, further reading, and conversations that have occurred from these I want to call out a few things that I am still working through.

The issues

  • Cannot identify a problem and come up with a solution
  • Have a hard time thinking on their own
  • We want freedom, but forget that creativity does require constraints
  • If you don’t care, then they don’t care
  • A culture must be developed
  • Teamwork and Collaboration skills are lacking
These are issues that are nothing new when it comes to education and problems facing some of our schools and classrooms. 
What I want to include here is the missing link to all of this and in no way am I trying to be degrading or negative because I am still very much an educator, but
These issues exist for both students and educators. Yes, I am calling everyone out on this. 
The reason it is a problem is because modeling of confidence, belief, and being a game changer is not happening. Modeling is not happening because so many don’t have these skills in the first place to model. If we want students to change and not be this way, then educators need to share their ways in which they do these very things. The reason they don’t is because many lack the same exact skills to help students in the first place.
A major obstacle is that many lack the confidence to model and celebrate their successes and failures. It is not so much that educators don’t have the skills to model, create change, and lead by example, but many lack the confidence to share it out. It is instead much easier to complain about why kids are not doing this or that. Perhaps many should watch the TED talk “Skill of Self Confidence”

What I like about this video is when he says, “without skill of self confidence you are useless”. To develop self confidence requires repetition, repetition, repetition. He dabbles further into the idea of self talk. Why would we want to talk negatively to ourselves when so many already do this already?

Back to the issues stated above.

It is easy for educators to complain about this or that, but hard to actually solve the problem.
Many educators don’t really want to think on their own. When given the freedom to develop things on their own, they panic and just want to be told what to do.
If you are teaching content you don’t care about, students pick up on that and they don’t care either. Now we have a huge issue of dealing with many factors.
Educators are the worse at true collaboration and teamwork. So many meetings are wasted with minutes spent on venting, chatting, and side talk. This happens because we are stuck in a constant cycle of mandatory meetings that lead absolutely nowhere. If we scaled back meetings and take time to teach how to really work together and collaborate then I think things would change. When we learn how to make better make use of time, then we can begin to model with students.
I don’t want this to come across negative or bashing. What I am stressing here is that schools, student teacher prep courses, and professional development really need to be spent on the soft skills. These soft skills translate to real world skills that evolve and enhance all the mandatory skills that get reported on standardized testing. These skills will improve because teachers will be modeling learning and thinking. It is a worthwhile investment that will not only benefit education, but society and culture. Often times the very issues that create stress for teachers in the classroom are the same issues taking place among the staff as well.
Just think about it.
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Teaching Ideas: NASA, Space, Planets, and Moons #coffeechugPLN

NASA Haughton-Mars Project: program aimed at developing new technologies, strategies, humans factors experience, and field-based operational know-how key to planning the future exploration of the Moon, Mars and other planets by robots and humans.

Ask a Scientist: Living on Other Planets

Venus Project (useful in colonizing other planets)

comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology, and nature will be able to coexist in a long-term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium.

Hubble Space Telescope

We Cannot Colonize the Planets (reasons why)

Space Elevators (no need for rockets)

British National space Centre

China National Space Agency

Danish National Space Center

Indian Space Research Organization

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency

Norwegian Space Centre

Space Agencies and Organizations

Space Weather Network (conditions on the Sun and in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can endanger human life or health)

Project X (two flights into space in two weeks)

Planetary Probes History

Lyot Project (identifying biologically active planets and finding ones that are possibly inhabitable)

Exploration of Other Planets

         Pioneer Venus Project

         Colonizing Other Planets: Millennial Project

         The Grand Survey of Mars: 1996-2019 A.D. (EXCEPTIONAL SITE!! educational programs from K-12, news on all the probes) 

Astronaut Geology Tools (photos and descriptions)

Collecting Moon Rocks During the Apollo Program (tools and photos)

Space Related Resources (EXCELLENT SITE! many related topics)

Space Station Photo Gallery

Astronaut Photography of Earth

Astronaut & Space Travel Memorabilia for Sale

Space Radio Stations (communicate with astronauts)

The Space Show (live broadcast talk radio about space)

Physics and Astronomy Fun and Jokes

Drake Equation (estimating the number of civilizations capable of communication that are in the Milky Way Galaxy)

Space Music (with podcasts)

Space Art on the Web

Space Art in Children’s Books

Space ArtGalleries Around the World

NASA Space Art (galleries showing art from all the different projects

Space Food (EXCEPTIONAL SITE!!  see videos on food for long term space travel)

Clothing on Other Planets (surprise!)

Visiting Other Planets (teacher lesson plan)

Psychological Preparations and Problems of Space Travel

Psychos in Space (staying sane)

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Can we push our kids too much and too far?

Reading an article in Parents as part of my self experiment to push my comfort zone and perceptions I read about the issue of the amount of pressure we place on our children to excel at activities. This article and topic lead me to connect the contents to Passion which has been my hot ticket item this summer on this blog.

As a parent of 8, 6, and 2 year olds I feel great pressure that my kids are not involved in activities on a daily basis, participating on travel teams, being involved in scheduled events all day everyday, and not competing like every other child that we know and run into.

I feel torn and this has been an issue that I struggle with as well as my wife. We both are quite competitive coming from college sports backgrounds in basketball and volleyball. We loved what we did. It is hard not to have kids loving what we did. They are young and my heart tells me they will develop their love of things on their own. However, the crazy culture and society we live in today makes me feel like I am doing a disservice to my children by not forcing them into drills and travel teams and being part of an organized system all day and night.

My instinct as a parent along with my coaching experience that includes all the good and bad parenting pressures leads me to believe that my kids need to be kids. They need to experience the world on their terms and find their own passions. By giving them the freedom to create, play outside, be bored, experiment, and just not live a structured life of always being in an organized activity will pay off. So many children today do not know how to entertain themselves on their own. How will they ever find their life passion if they cannot accomplish the most important ingredient in life – making oneself happy? To be clear my kids are involved in activities, but during the summer they are left to figure out how to entertain themselves, create their own games, organize their own fun with the neighborhood kids, etc.

The article discusses how parents are getting kids to find their speciality early to appeal to college. Parents feel like they have a head start if they start their children on these paths early. I love the quote by Michael Thompson, Ph.D when he states, “The goal of childhood is to become independent, moral, loving, and productive young adult – not to go to a great college.” I think it is easy as a parent and also as an educator to lose sight of this central idea.

This quote stuck with me as an educator. As we work to be the best teachers we can be I think his quote is a great reminder of what our jobs are as teachers. We are trying to help students and kids become independent, moral, loving, and productive young adults. Schools are so focused on standardized tests and college prep that we are overlooking the most important ingredients to our recipe for success in the classroom. Those ingredients are the ones that we should be focusing on because if we can help students become independent, moral, loving, and productive, then the scores and curriculum content will just naturally occur and the test scores will take of themselves.

“Enthusiasm motivates a child to keep getting better at something.” quote by Madeline Levine, Ph.D. strikes another chord with me. As parents and educators we have to share our passion and enthusiasm for life and learning. I have blogged about finding our passion and sharing our passion as teachers to engage learners. Enthusiasm is key. It is contagious just like passion. Look at a young kid loaded with excitement for life and try not to smile!

Reading this article made me feel better. My kids will find their niche. It took me most of my life to find mine. I have bounced around to explore. I have to remember that basketball was not always my desire, but for a large part of my youth it was. It has once again changed. I have to remember that my instinct is right. My kids will be fine. When it comes to my classroom I have to allow my students to explore and learn and bounce around. I cannot worry that my children bounce around from activity to activity. I have to remain open to this idea both as a parent and an educator because after all life is the passion of child. Kids by nature are to explore and therefore bouncing around from this activity to this activity is part of the process.

Whether a parent or educator our jobs are to provide many different experiences and opportunities for students and kids to explore and find more about themselves. Mix things up. Appeal to the senses. Move around. Try new things. Share your passions for life. By doing these things  we are creating the next generation of passionate learners of life.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Ideas were based on reading of article from August 2013 issues of Parents magazine:

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Digital Citzenship CAN and SHOULD be taught to young kids

My son is going to be in third grade this fall and he has more online awareness than I had at any time in my life growing up as a kid and teenager.

Like many other kids, he is addicted and loves Minecraft. He does things so quickly and rapidly that blow me away and most times do not make sense to my eyes.

One thing we have done as parents is instill a sense of trust with him. We have laid out guidelines and have open communications about what is acceptable and not acceptable. We then cross our fingers that he listens.

He is a typical boy. He pouts. He does not like chores. He loves outdoors. Etc. He is just your regular run of the mill boy.

And he gets the gold star in digital citizenship.

He plays on the JoKaydia server which is ran by an amazing educator and person who I have so much respect for. We don’t peer over his shoulder, but ask that he remains open and honest. He has done wonderfully talking about issues. It leads to some great conversations not only about digital citizenship, but making proper decisions in life and treatment of others.

The other week I was out of town and I had to discuss with him over the phone about why he cannot play Halo or Modern Warfare while his other friends get to play. This is tough and puts him in a tough situation as he cannot play with his friends when they play these games. I often wonder if we are losing him to the peer pressure and possibly open communication.

Then I was reminded that he is a rock star. We received an email about him dealing with a situation on the Minecraft server.

HI ********,

I read the server logs of the incident you had with ******** in the mines today and I wanted to let you know that he has been banned for using swear words (cussing) and being rude to you. I’m sorry you had to experience that situation and I wanted to let you know that I’m very proud of you for handling it so well. You clearly reminded him to follow the rules and not use bad words, and you logged out when he wouldn’t stop – which was exactly the right way to handle things.

We take bad behavior including rudeness like that very seriously, and ******* account will stay banned for at least 2 weeks and we will discuss the problem with him and his parents before he is allowed to come back.

I was very proud as a parent. My 8 year old son handled a situation completely on his own and handled it perfectly without any guidance from us as parents. This also showcases how amazing some people are like Jo Kaydia who help make learning possible in safe environments. Additionally, this shows how fluent kids are today with the internet and the digital landscape.

On a higher level this goes back to an idea I shared months ago. Digital citizenship needs to be taught starting in kindergarten. Kids are networking online younger and younger and need to learn how to deal with issues. They need to be taught how to behave and what to do when others choose not to behave properly. They can handle it. The earlier they hear the message and more frequent they hear the message, the more positive their digital footprint will develop. They live in a day and age where they can no longer erase their actions. All they do is recorded. We must provide the kids with the tools and mindset to handle these powerful tools and games in the correct manner.

Part of our jobs in schools is to help develop these discussions and awareness. Yes, parents play a pivotal role as well, but not all parents are aware of these issues and don’t know how to go about it. This incident is another reminder of the obligations we have to our youth.

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6 Key Ideas To Harnessing Our Power As Educators

Yesterday was the deadline for the Iowa Teacher of the Year application. I finally submitted my 20 page dissertation covering a variety of questions and a resume. This process felt overwhelming at first, but turned out to be one of the most powerful experiences I have been part of in a long time.

It was not powerful because I had to toot my own horn, but it was powerful because of the collaboration and learning that took place. I was forced to really sit and think about what is really at the core of myself as a teacher. Going through this process I realized that I have constantly added more and more to my plate and collective toolbox as a teacher and have not stopped to really ask the question, “Why?”

Here are the key takeaways from the process

  • What is really at your core?

 Trying to craft answers to some heavy loaded questions on this application forced me to rewrite my answers four times. The transformation of first version to the fourth revision was not only inspirational, but a process that allowed me to find myself. I had to really strip away so many layers to analyze why I teach and what I hold dear to my heart. I think in this fast paced society we lose connection with what is the foundation of ourselves. We need to stop every once in a while and remember what we hold dear to our heart and then reconfigure our journey.

  • We forget what we are good at!

Working solo on my application would not have been the best way to go about this process. Connecting and working with some dynamic people helped remind me of what I do well. Having conversations about education and talking about various projects and lessons helped to remind myself that I do some things really well. This is a key moment. Teachers need to find a group they trust and take time to talk about what we do well. It is vital that we are reminded of these things from time to time because we can get wrapped up in so many other things and lose sight of our abilities.

  • Power of collaboration

This ties in with the answer above, but if teachers are not collaborating and holding deep discussions about education, then we are missing out on a vital part of the education landscape. Teachers need to craft time to have dialogue about education. Through this process I was engaged in some highly motivating and powerful conversations. Talking with other teachers who bring something completely different from myself was the key. We all brought in different perspectives and engaged us in several discussions that pushed my thinking. Often times teachers will connect in person and end up complaining. This is a waste of time. Teachers need to connect and hold conversations that drive them to new ways of thinking.

  • Working with people different from self

 I brought in teachers who have skills far superior than my own and in fields where I struggle. This was the most essential key to this process. You don’t want to sit around a table with like minded individuals. You need variety and perspective different from your own. This allows for a more fulfilling dialogue that drives everyone. By doing this and creating this community of diversity the other key points above fall into place. In order to challenge yourself you have to branch out and meet with people different from your own mindset.

  • Our natural skills are not always seen by self

This one is similar to a previous point. What I want to stress here is that we all do amazing things. Most of us do some really powerful things and don’t even realize we do these things. Have conversations and talking about our teaching brings out these essential skills. Working through these questions I was exposed to things that I do that I never considered. I ignored these items because it just happens naturally and therefore I don’t give them any thought. This is a great thing. We all naturally do some powerful things in our classroom. We must remind ourselves of these things because it is important for us to realize what we do so well and naturally.

  • Separate critique and feedback from personal feeling

This is most vital. I had to make it clear for them to hammer my thoughts and ideas. We need to have tough skin. We live in an environment where so many people take critique and feedback personally. You cannot do this. We have to understand when someone offers critique, feedback, or suggestions it is given to make you better, not to knock you down. I think that so many of us get feedback or a suggestion and instantly become angry because we think we are not doing something right. Just like our students, we have to rewire our thinking. It is time that we get back to the notion and learning is a journey. We do, we revise, and we improve. It is time to separate feedback from the personal level. Working through this I had to remind my fellow companions to hammer away. I don’t take it personal. I want to learn. I want to improve. In the end, we all learned and improved. It was amazing!

I will be sharing out my answers in bits to hopefully engage in some dialogue. From this experience I will be crafting a self reflection course for educators so teachers can go through the process I just went through. It was a powerful experience that really helped me gain a vision to where I am and where I want to be. 

At this point I already feel like a winner. This process moved me and helped me grow as an educator. Even if nothing develops from my application I will be satisfied with the journey that I travelled to get this application complete. I really think every teacher should undergo this process which is why I will be creating a self paced course to do just that.

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    What Am I Teaching and the Problem with Students: They Can’t Identify The Problem #Choose2Matter #Quest2Matter

    As I continue to work with my students on the #Quest2Matter project I am having so many thoughts running through my head. Literally, my brain is oozing out of my ears.

    Why? Because I don’t know what to think anymore…..and I mean that in a good way.

    I have students working on creating a solution to a real world problem. As we work through their ideas I keep getting caught up with all of them wanting to help third world countries. Don’t get me wrong, this is a grand goal, but why do they always resort to this idea? 

    I want them to make an impact, but I want them to branch out beyond raising money or thinking about Africa. I feel like this is the easy answer(and a very hard answer to provide!!). Anyone can collect money and it does not require any work on their part. There is no real connection to what they are doing. I want them to be PASSIONATE about their work and see the rewards.

    My students and all students are deep thinkers. I think they get caught up with the American idea of “Poor kids in _______ country.” They don’t take time to understand the culture, really gain a sense of the people, and to let go of this American idea mindset. Other people despite not having the things we have are proud and don’t want a pity party. This is a hard concept for my students to grasp.

    I want them to get involved and to really feel the movement of their work. I don’t want them to pawn their ideas off on others to do while they sit on Google and think they are making change.

    Now, I am not kicking my kids. They are doing wonderful and feel so blessed to be working with these students. I know this comes across as negative, but I think it is really an issue we need to address with our students.

    Someone said it best on Twitter when I was discussing these ideas. They stated 

    students are used to problem solving not problem finding….. It is hard!”

    I never thought of it this way. In schools, teachers always provide the problem. In this project my students have to identify the problem first. They must find research that proves the problem exists and then they have to find a solution. We are in a reversal in thinking. My students are now able to identify a  problem, but now are struggling with a tangible solution.

    What am I teaching?

    This is the question I am stuck with as I work through this project. My students don’t see the issues locally. We have identified an issue, we working on creating a solution, and will attempt to put it into action. I want them to think globally and on a large scale, see how it works in other places, but start their ideas here. 

    For example, if they want to help with hunger in Africa, why not help with hunger here in our own town first to see the issue in person? An interesting story to share. I brought in a wonderful lady who works with the food pantry to show them how real hunger and lack of food is in our town for large population. After talking to the kids working on this topic I talked with them and they had no passion for these people. They shifted their emotion 100% and said if someone gives them food, then they should be able to get a job and if not move to another city. They missed the whole concept of hard and nearly impossible this is for some people. I then turned it back to Africa and they became so “I feel so bad” type mindset. It was a polarizing moment for me. I am not upset about them not wanting to help the food pantry, but it was an eye opener about how they perceive our city.

    So, what am I teaching? Do we need to study history facts when we cannot see the issues in our very town. What is really important? Why am I not doing more to help them learn to identify problems? Isn’t this the way of the world? Their jobs are going to be asking this very thing. Can you find a problem and make it better for the business or world or whatever platform they are working for?

    Here are a few ideas to help you if you are stuck in your project.

    • ?’s to prompt thinking: when has a solution to (x) created a conflict for (y)?
    • I recommend checking out news stories, connections to the issue, ideas on how to help.

    Just two weeks into this project and I am re shifting my teachings, my lessons, my projects, and how I operate. I do some things well, but I can do more. I can do better.

    Last, as you work through your projects and ideas and feel stuck, perhaps you should REFRAME your problem.

    Watch this short video to see what I mean

    As always, I look forward to your thoughts and ideas on this. Please let me know what you think. Let us start the conversation. Students, I am sharing this with you all so please let your Student Voice be heard and chime in as well!

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    Coffeechug PLN – Twitter for Educators Task 10: Twitter Abbreviations and Twittonary Tool

    What do all the abbreviations mean? This was one of the many great questions from our first Twitter chat on Tuesday night. I am going to do my best to address them all or at least give you the tools needed to solve the issues yourself. This post will focus on abbreviations and what they all mean.

    To read past tasks 1 – 9 you can go to the wiki and check it out. 

     I covered some abbreviations in the prior tasks, but only a handful. This is going to focus strictly on abbreviations and how to make sense of it all.

    Step 1: Most common abbreviations
    I have created another Google Document that is open and editable for anyone to crowdsource and contribute. I have tried to gather as much as I could, but I know I am missing some key ideas and abbreviations. Check it out and please add anything. Now keep in mind not all of these use the most professional language. I have included them in here because you need to know these. Whether someone uses them in your stream, a student is using them, or possibly your own child. It is important to be aware, but not necessarily use! I would read through before sharing at a school function or with students. Not all are safe for student eyes or school areas. I have not typed in the actual words, but you will get a sense without a problem.

    Step 2: Using symbols
     Something that I don’t use very often, but sometimes is needed when tweeting and is one way to enhance tweets if used properly is the use of symbols. Twitter symbols all you have to do is copy them using Ctrl+C or a right click and copy and then paste into your tweet using Ctrl+V or right click and paste.
    Check out the following website to get started: Twitter Symbols visit:

    1. @

    ‘@’ or ‘at’ is used to tag other people into your comment, post, or message. When you add @, Twitter will notify the person you tagged. For example, you can type @Joshua and Joshua will be notified about the message you wrote.

    2. RT (Re-tweet)

    This is typed at the end of a post. RT encourages other people to re-tweet your post.

    3. PRT (Please Re-Tweet or Partial Re-Tweet)

    PRT sends a message to readers that the tweet has already been edited to accommodate the addition of username.

    4. OH (Overheard)

    OH is used during conference. OH signals readers that the source of the post is overheard from other source.

    5. BTW (By The Way)

    BTW is used to signal a change of topic. It has the same meaning with the word ‘segue’.

    6. FTW (For The Win)

    For the win is a positive remark done in Twitter.

    7. FTL (For The Loss)

    FTL is opposite of FTW. It signifies being frustrated, disappointed, dismay, and disapproval.

    8. IRL (In Real Life)

    IRL obviously tells you that not all things in Twitter or in the online world are necessarily true in the real world.

    9. (FTF or F2F) Face to Face

    This is a desire that a Twitter user wants to meet another user in real life (IRL).

    10. IMHO (In My Honest Opinion or In My Humble Opinion)

    This is to tell other twitter users that the remark made is based on personal opinion and not on facts. IMHO is also a way to assert one’s self without being too offensive.

    11. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

    Simply means that your experience with regards to a product or service may differ from other people’s experiences.

    12. BR (Best Regards)

    This is a courteous way to ask for something. BR is also used when there is a dispute or to nicely introduce yourself.

    13. B/C (Because)

    B/C is used to cite a reason. This should not be confused with BCC which means blind carbon copy and is used in email.

    14. JV (Joint Venture)

    JV means collaboration between one or two Twitter users.

    15. LMK (Let Me Know)

    Simply means you like to be informed.

    16. TMB (Tweet Me Back)

    This is a request for another user to reply to a post.

    17. DM (Direct Message)

    DM means to talk to a twitter user in private.

    18. LOL (Laughing Out Loud)

    LOL expresses being humored.

    19. IOW (In Other Words)

    IOW lets you cite other words or perspective to express a thought.

    20. IMX (In My Experience)

    IMX expresses one’s experience.

    21. # (Hashtag)

    # sign is used to mark a particular trending topic. If you put a ‘#’ next to a word, you let your post to be indexed in Twitter’s search engine. For example, you typed #government. People who will search for the word ‘government’ will be able to find your post.

    22. This.

    It is a message that tells twitter users that the tweet is something of great interest.

    23. TBH (To Be Honest)

    This is a remark used to show people’s honesty and/confession.

    24. MT (Modified Tweet)

    It means that the tweet’s content has already been modified to about 1/3 of the original content.

    25. ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)

    This is commonly used by internet marketers who utilize Twitter as part of their social media advertisements. ICYMI is very useful if you want to re-post something that you want readers to be reminded of.

    26. +1

    It is a demarcation that a post or tweet is being endorsed by other Twitter users. +1 has almost equivalent meaning with ‘like’ on Facebook.

    27. H/T (Hat Tip)

    H/T is another way of liking a post.

    28. TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

    This is a very convenient way to summarize a somewhat long article.

    29. |

    This symbol is used to separate statements. Rather than writing the statement from one line to another, | is used to make the post look cleaner and streamlined.

    30. SMH (Shaking my Head)

    This abbreviation has different uses. It can be used to describe a wide range of emotion such as confusion, amusement, amazement, disappointment, and others. It can also be used as a stand-alone comment to a particular link or tweet.

    31. BRB (Be Right Back)

    It means that the user will be out for a short period of time.

    32. EM or EML (Email)

    EM is used to refer to an email server or the act of sending an email itself.

    33. Fab (Fabulous)

    FAB is an expression of amusement or amazement.

    34. FYI (For your Information)

    FYI is an opening or introduction leading to the presentation of information.

    35. GTG (Got to Go)

    GTG signifies the person needs to go immediately.

    36. IDC (I Don’t Care)

    IDC signifies being indifferent.

    37. ORLY (Oh Really)

    – See more at:

    Just double click the symbol to get it highlighted, copy, and then paste into your tweet. You can use other symbols, but this is a good start.

    Step 3: Tools

    Here are some other tools that fit into this category of symbols and abbreviations – is an online dictionary for Twitter. It allows you to search for what things mean on Twitter. If you don’t see something on the Google Document above for abbreviations, then you might find it here. Nice to have when in need of explanation and don’t want to feel stupid asking the person that used it. –  is a tool designed to shorten your Tweets. Sometimes you just cannot get your point across in under 140 characters. This online tool will makeshift your message to make it fit. It is not always perfect, but does come in handy at times when you just cannot figure out what to do. – is another option if you don’t like Tweet Shrink. I have not used this one except to test a few things for this post. The key here is just to play around with them and find the one you like.
    Of you can be yourself and just rework your tweet to make it fit. Sometimes I use (1/2) at the beginning of tweet that I know will take two tweets to get across. I will type the first part up with this at the beginning. My second tweet will start with (2/2).

    Closing Thoughts
    I hope this answers this particular question. I will be addressing the other questions soon. I know we want to learn about creating and using lists and some other key features. All in good time everyone! I need more coffee to keep up! Just kidding, I love being able to help. Please let me know if this has been helpful by tweeting to #coffeechugPLN

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    Coffeechug PLN – Twitter for Educators Task 5: Extra Commands and Terms to Know

    Here we are moving forward on to Task 5: Extra Commands. These are just some more things for you to explore and get to know in order to be more savvy on Twitter.

    I have made a video to go over the following content in case you are a visual learner

    The whole Twitter Course for Educators can be found here 

    Direct Message – If we think back to the idea of Twitter being a conversation, then this is more like whispering to someone. This is designed for only you and who you are contacting to read. Nobody else. Nobody else will be able to see what is shared between you and the person you are contacting. In order to do this, you must both be following one another.

    Hashtags – Think Bat signal. Hashtags are the words or abbreviations that follow the pound symbol in tweets. For this course we have been using #coffeechugPLN. This allows anyone to follow all tweets with that particular hashtag group. You will see hashtags used for chats, classrooms, group discussions, conferences, backchannels, etc. They come in quite handy especially when taking part in Twitter chats or attending conferences.

    This is why it is important to keep tweets to around 120 characters so there is room for hashtags and retweets.

    When you start to follow a chat or use third party software(which will be covered in an upcoming task) you can divide up your Twitter feed by hashtags.

    For example, I use Tweetdeck which allows me to create columns. I created columns for each of the hashtags that I find valuable. I know the screenshot below is hard to read, but I have my favorite hashtags organized so I can follow trends and specific discussion.

    You will hear this term used when talking with people about Twitter or trying to exchange information while at conferences or other places. They will ask you what your Twitter handle is. This is your name with the @insertname. This is how they can search for you and track you down. When you want to tweet someone always start with the @ symbol. As you begin to type your list of people will show up based on letters chose. You can let others see the tweet if you don’t start with the handle. If you start with the handle, then only the people who follow the you and the person you are writing can see it.

    This one is a newer one to me, but as I continue to explore and learn more about Twitter I see a great benefit to being part of the masses and use this. This is a hashtag, but one that stands for “Follow Friday”. On Fridays you will see people tweet #FF followed by a bunch of handles afterwards. This is kind of like a Twitter holiday where it gives you a chance to share out people that you think others should follow. It helps to spread the word about people on Twitter that need to be noticed.

    @reply vs @mention

    I talked about this in Task 4, but just to clarify one more time.

    The way you phrase your tweet makes a big difference in how it is delivered.

    A @reply (when you start a Tweet with handle) can be seen by you, the person you sent the Tweet, and anyone who follows both of you. However, it does not go into the news feed for all of your followers.

    “@coffeechugbooks Yes, I love to drink coffee too!”
    You would use this method when you don’t think the message is of any value for everyone to read.

    A @mention (when you start a tweet with your message with the Twitter handle included within the message) can be seen by you, the person you sent the Twee, and everyone in your news feed.

    “Hello @coffeechug, what is your favorite coffee to drink?”

    Using this format your tweet will be seen by more people.

    Just one word can have an impact on how it is shared with the public and your newsfeed. Remember they are both public, but just show up differently.

    Objectives For This Task

    1. This goes back to Task #4, but is important to making connections so I am adding it again. Continue to retweet beneficial tweets. A key question is

    When Do You RT?

    I would suggest that you retweet for one of the following reasons

    • Important for others in your network to read or use
    • You want to share some news that you feel is worthwhile to spread
    • Helpful article or thought provoking article/blog post
    • Sometimes it is nice to share something funny like a joke.

    2. Begin to explore various hashtags and see what you find to be useful. We are covering Twitter Chats next so it might be good to find a few to possibly check out. I am already seeking advice on the good ones for people to check out.

    3. Direct Message someone. Just try it out. Test out how it works and how to access the messages. You can always DM me if you don’t have anyone to message or not sure who to test.

    4. I know it is not Friday yet, but on Friday use the hashtag #FF to share out new people you have connected with through this journey. It is always good to give recognition. We are just like our students and it feels good to see our names!


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    Using Technology in Junior High Math: Learning with cell phones and iPads and computers OH MY!

    My wife is a junior high algebra and pre algebra teacher for Pleasant Valley Junior High. She does not like to give herself credit for the hard work and time she devotes to teaching math. She forms great relationships with the students and with that foundation kids come to class everyday ready to learn math…..even the ones that don’t like math.

    One of her goals this year has been to work on shifting to Common Core and more importantly to engage students with the concepts. After a great presentation and keynote speaker yesterday during our professional development day with George Couros and doing some presenting myself I could not help but think that I was missing something. It finally hit me that my wife has been doing some great and amazing things with technology in her math class. I often think that math is such a tough content area to connect with students and to make relevant. Most junior high students don’t think big picture and don’t hear why this or that is important to their lives.

    I asked my wife to share with me some of her recent lessons. I hope you find them useful and if you have suggestions or perhaps even other great ideas to share that would be wonderful. 

    As teachers we are all “Idea Bandits” where we search, read, and research ideas and then tweak them to make them our own. These ideas originated from me throwing out some questions of help on my PLN as well as her looking online for ideas. 

    Idea #1: Students create videos for to help them review

    My wife used Wallwisher which is now Padlet(new and improved) with her students. For a review for a test over concepts she gave each student a question to prepare and explain how to solve. She gave each of them a hard copy of all the problems first so they could see what the problem looked like before they watched the video.

    To record students they kept things simple to start. They used good old whiteboards and used the camera option to record. They spread out in hallways and classrooms to record. Anytime you try something new you always test the waters, reflect, and make changes. There are apps that can help make this even better like Screenchomp which she plans on using next. This is one app worth having if you have the opportunity for iPads in your school. If you don’t have iPads there are other ways to do this very project using Flip videos for example. I will be adding how to screencast without iPads(my school does not have iPads at the middle school) over on my classroom tools wiki page as well as tutorials on how to use these apps and tools(will be posted within a week).

    After they recorded their screencast and explanations the students then uploaded them to Padlet where all students could see all the problems. This way students could go and access the video they needed. There was no wasting time by having to sit through problems they already knew how to do. They could just go to where they needed help. Really, this is a whole flipped classroom and crowdsourcing project that benefits everyone.

    Here is a link to the final results of her review assignment. The students really liked this project. The kids did say that sometimes the videos took a while to load. I think if using at home it would be faster as most schools internet is slow anyways

    I will be posting her next cool math idea soon. It is titled Texting Olympics. Stay tuned.

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    Teaching Ideas: Eric Collard, Nikola Tesla, and Controlling The Weather

    Here is an incredible inspiration for students who might like to be challenged to make a difference.
    Eric Dollard has been working on recreating the inventions of Nikola Tesla – who was way ahead of his time.
    It is alleged that Tesla was killed at the request of Thomas Edison.
    Dollard forces us to dig out of the thinking ruts that we all get into.
    Here is Dollard’s fascinating story:

    Here is Dollard’s indiegogo presentation:

    Tesla himself can be incredibly inspirational and gifted beyond words.
    Inventions and the inventive process have been suppressed:
    Can our weather be controlled?
    One of the members of our Innovation Initiative Co-operative inventors group claims to be able to control the weather using radionics devices. While discussing this with him, I suggested that if could do what he says then he could divert a typhoon that I had read about away from Taiwan. I followed the satellite weather images and sure enough the typhoon was diverted. Peter also claimed that he arranged to have a bright sunny day for his niece’s wedding. The forecast had been for rain that Saturday. He has a team of people that he works with.
    Other claims: the central west USA was in drought situation last summer. He and his team brought rain clouds down the Rocky Mountains to give rain. He and his team have diverted many hurricanes that approached the US from the Atlantic including the big one that was supposed to hit New Orleans again.
    CHALLENGE : Come up with a way or experiment to try to prove that he is actually controlling the weather.
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