TeachersFirst Edge - Chat/Microblogging

 

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Twitter - Twitter, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief...more
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief "tweet." Tweets are much more than messages to share what you are eating for lunch! Use this popular microblogging and social networking tool for a great way to communicate with teaching peers and real world people you may not have a chance to otherwise meet. Reply to others to create conversations for some of the best professional development around. Each "tweet" or message may not seem extraordinary, but using the sum total of tweets from those you "meet" on Twitter can have an amazing impact. Use your profile and settings to add a bio and other information, change your security settings from public to protected, find those who follow you, and more. Post your tweets through the website, mobile devices, or myriad of applications to manage tweets and followers. Keep track of your favorite tweets by starring them. Refer to your favorites list as needed. Wish you could take back a tweet? Click the trash can beside the post to delete (however, others may have already seen and responded.) Find many opinions about Twitter on and off the Internet. Remember you will gain only as much as you put into this service. Build a network of helpful colleagues to become a better learner (and educator). Anyone can learn from Twitter, even a class of elementary students! Still not sure what Twitter is about? Find a great explanation of how it works in this review.

tag(s): microblogging (32), social media (37), social networking (94)

In the Classroom

Bring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use Twitter as a backchannel to expand upon thoughts and ideas during presentations and after. Have a question to ask others' opinion about? Throw it out to Twitter to see the great perspectives given by those who follow you. Start out slowly and look at conversations that catch your eye. Follow people with experience in your areas of interest to gain from the conversations. Start off by following @teachersfirst or @cshively (our leader).

Learn about hashtags -- ways to mark, search, and follow conversations on a specific topic. For example, the #ntchat tag is for new and pre-service teachers and the #edchat hashtag is for all teachers. Participate in these chats which are scheduled at certain days and times or search for their tweets anytime. Find archived tweets from these chats to learn from some wonderful and motivated teachers when it is convenient for YOU. Use other Twitter applications to search or collect specific hashtags.

As a teaching tool, Twitter is amazing! If your school permits access, have a class account to share what you are doing with parents and especially for your class to follow people in topics you study. Studying space? Follow NASA. Studying politics and government? Follow your congressional rep or the White House. Consider using your teacher or class account to send updates to other teachers across the country or across the globe. You can also teach about responsible digital citizenship by modeling and practicing it as a class. A whole-class, teacher account is the most likely way to gain permission to use Twitter in school, especially if you can demonstrate specific projects. That can be as simple as making sure you and that teacher are FOLLOWING each other, then sending a direct message (start the tweet with D and the other teacher's twitter name) or creating a group with your own hashtag for a project such as daily weather updates. Even if you are not "following" someone, you can send them a tweet using @theirtwittername in the body of the message. This is called a "mention" but can be seen by others, too. Compare what your class is observing in today's weather, which topics you will be discussing today, or ask for another class' opinions on a current events issue. Ask for updates about local concerns, such as talking to California schools about wildfires in their area or a Maine school about a blizzard. Challenge another class to tweet the feelings of a literacy character, such as Hamlet, and respond as Ophelia, all in 140 characters or less. Have gifted students? Connect your classroom with the outside world to find greater challenges and connections beyond your regular curriculum.

Learn much more about teaching ideas and tools for Twitter in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst Twitter for Teachers page.

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Twiducate - Twiducate

Grades
2 to 12
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Innovate the way you and your students communicate about their education! Twiducate is a private social media platform for networking and collaborating. Use Twiducate to create a microblogging...more
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Innovate the way you and your students communicate about their education! Twiducate is a private social media platform for networking and collaborating. Use Twiducate to create a microblogging platform for the students in your classes without venturing into the more complex public interaction programs like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Sign up with email and start creating "teams" and entering students. You can have three teams and as many students as you want. Students can be on multiple teams. An elementary classroom can have a team for three different subject areas, math or reading levels, special projects, and so on; split upper grades into content or project groups, or whatever groups you need. Students use a class code rather than sign up with email. Add other teachers, too! Once you have signed up, you will receive four emails from Twiducate to help you get started by giving you some basic training and tips. Select your Teacher Controls for posts on your profile page.

tag(s): microblogging (32), social networking (94), twitter (42)

In the Classroom

After signing up for Twiducate, manage many options through your dashboard by selecting to open a class. The options include adding students, entering bookmarks to share with students, viewing the public timeline (you may find a teacher to collaborate and share with), and creating more classes. Students do not need to register themselves and are added in through the I.D the teacher provides them. As students are added, a password is generated for them.

Use this safe, private, closed system to blog and network in your classes. Students are able to access this site outside of school and collaborate there as well. Invite parents into this network and let them see what is going on. Teachers are able to moderate all posts and remove any unwanted posts. Consider printing the screen of student names and passwords for a hard copy in order to access the information. Be sure to discuss rules of etiquette for posting and commenting in order to teach students effective use of these types of services. Be sure to include actions for broken rules. Check your school policies about using such a resource and whether special permission slips may be required.

The possibilities for using Twiducate are endless! Here are just a few: Use for posting homework assignments. Share and publish bookmarks for students to use. Respond to students trying to get test dates and other assignments changed! Collaborate among small or large groups. Create study groups for review and learning of information. Use short time information gathering more effectively: Assign every two students a concept to research and share learning with the rest of the class for discussion. How can you be sure that each student has completed work? Have them blog their information through Twiducate. Watching a movie that requires students to answer questions? Embed prepared questions throughout the movie using playposit, reviewed here, and then post the movie to Twiducate. Ask students to respond to pre and post discussion questions about the movie on Twiducate (perfect for flipped or blended classrooms!). Allow students the ability to blog their reactions to documentaries and work together for understanding. During poetry month, have students do oral poetry reading while others microblog their reactions to the poem as they listen. Share weekly links and comments about current events via Twiducate. If you are willing to risk it, invite students to microblog questions and reactions to teacher and student presentations in progress. Suddenly listening is an active endeavor! Provide this resource for groups to collaborate in and out of class and offer options for learning at any time.

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ePals - ePals, Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
    
ePals, a global community, offers students the chance to connect with other students around the world (200+ countries). This site is one of the largest worldwide communities for global...more
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ePals, a global community, offers students the chance to connect with other students around the world (200+ countries). This site is one of the largest worldwide communities for global collaboration. Don't worry about student email accounts as they are no longer needed! Don't worry about the language barrier either, there is a built-in language translation! This content-rich site offers a free "how to" webinar on the FAQs page. The program offers teacher to teacher and teacher to student communications, pen pal exchanges, Classroom Collaborative Projects, Spark!Lab Invent It Challenges, and more. In addition, you can click on the Collaborative Projects link to find several ready to use projects (Self Driving Cars, Hamilton, Habitats, Maps, Natural Disasters, Water, and others).

tag(s): black history (60), disasters (43), environment (322), habitats (110), maps (295), natural disasters (21), water (136)

In the Classroom

Navigating this site is rather simple. Simply scroll through the slide show at the top to find your area of interest: Collaboration Projects, Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge, etc. Parts of this site require log-in. Registration does require an email address. A lot of safety features are already put into place at this site. To learn more about the safety features at this site, check out the ePals webinar on YouTube link on the FAQ page.

This site offers an amazing assortment of class activities and possibilities. Collaborate with schools in Africa (or 200 other countries) for a geography project. Have your students find ePals to correspond with and practice writing skills in English or in a language you are studying. Get additional ideas for projects, by visiting the "Projects" link or propose one of your own based on ideas from TeachersFirst suggestions you read in other reviews, lesson plans, and articles. After viewing one of the informative videos, challenge your students to study one of the topics available at this site and redefine their learning by creating their own videos using My Simpleshow, reviewed here. Use a tool such as TeachersTube, to share the video clips, reviewed here.

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Plurk - Plurk

Grades
9 to 12
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends....more
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends. Comments to plurks are attached to the original and conversations are easy to track and continue. Plurk brings interconnectivity between friends and is more like a social network than a blog. Registration with an email is required and managing login and password is necessary. Instant messaging and mobile blogging options are possible.

tag(s): microblogging (32)

In the Classroom

This site is not difficult to navigate. Left click on the timeline to drag it to earlier posts. Unread plurks and replies appear as a number beside each plurk and in the timeline. Along the top of the timeline are user controls. "My profile" contains your contact information and details. Upload a photo, customize the colors of your outline, or add a widget to your blog or site that contains your plurks. Use "My friends" to invite friends, create cliques that allow you to segregate who sees certain plurks, and blocking other users. "Alerts" contain friend requests sent to you. Click on "Interesting plurkers" to see plurks from everywhere which you can customize to gender, age, city, state, or country. Use "My account" to change privacy settings and set up instant messaging. Create your plurks below the timeline and use the dropdown to change your verb from "is" to "says," wishes," "feels," and many others. Hover over a person's picture or name to send a private plurk. Plurk messages can be edited but replies cannot. Pictures, images, and links can be added as well. Also below the timeline are tabs to see plurks from you and your friends, your plurks alone, and private plurks. View your Karma -- which increases with plurks and friends and unlocks new features. Use "Embed your Plurk widget" easily to your blog by simply entering your login information.

Create a written and signed classroom policy that outlines necessary privacy settings and actions that would be considered misuse. Check these regularly and take appropriate actions to enforce rules when needed. Students need to be guided in how to safely blog and share information. Students may come across questionable content if reading through the "interesting plurkers" tab. As with all social networking sites, students need to be aware of proper ways to communicate at school and at home. Teachers should be a part of all student groups to monitor use.

Students can use Plurk to discuss group work on a project, create study groups, ask for help, or communicate with those who can mentor their class or subject they are learning. Many students will find success with sending bits of information at a time and letting the conversations evolve from there. Literature teachers may want to require students to plurk their thoughts within small groups as they read chapters or acts of longer works for homework, generating discussion and active reading. Social studies teachers could assign a similar task as students read about history. Math teachers may want to encourage "plurking" as students work on longer, more complex problems. Those writing lab reports for science class may find that plurking will help them collaborate in interpreting data. Consider setting up a regular class "plurk time" in the evening on certain nights of the week or for snow days.

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Backchannel Chat - Live Chat for Classrooms - Backchannelchat.com

Grades
6 to 12
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Backchannel Chat is a real-time educational discussion tool. Mute or remove comments. The tool includes a profanity filter and also a web based transcript for viewing and assessing...more
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Backchannel Chat is a real-time educational discussion tool. Mute or remove comments. The tool includes a profanity filter and also a web based transcript for viewing and assessing participation and weaknesses. Set the chat to discontinue when you leave if desired. Begin a chat with your email, display name, and backchannel title to receive a link for others to participate (no need to wait for an email). Free memberships allow one (endless) chat with up to 30 participants and storage of the chat transcript for up to 3 months. Choose the settings options to set moderation, etc. Premium features require the paid version. Unfortunately, the checkbox to require the teacher to be present for the chat is a premium feature, but you can set it to require teacher moderation for all messages so students cannot conduct after hours "chat" without your control. THis is a device agnostic tool with free app versions that work on mobile devices.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): chat (46), DAT device agnostic tool (173), microblogging (32)

In the Classroom

Create a name for your chat and share the URL with others. They join in simply by entering a name (or initials, to keep it safe) and clicking Join. Use backchannel chat on laptops during a video or student presentations. Pose questions for all to answer/discuss in the backchannel. Ask students to pose their own "I wonder if..." questions as they watch and listen. Keep every student engaged and THINKING as an active listener. The first time you use backchannel, you will want to establish some etiquette and accountability rules, such as respectful language and constructive criticism. Assign students to watch a news program or political show and have a backchannel chat during the broadcast. Revisit the chat on a projector in class the next day or copy/paste or put the link to the chat transcript on a class blog or wiki and have students respond further in blog posts or on the wiki discussion tab. The advantage of backchannel chat is that every student has a voice, no matter how shy.

In world language classes or even autistic support class, have students backchannel descriptions of what they see as classmates act out a scene from a video, using new language vocabulary and/or describing the feelings of the actors. In studying literature, collaborate with another class to have students role-play a chat between two characters or - in history class - between soldiers on two sides of the Civil War or different sides of the Scopes Money trial. Make brevity an impetus for well-focused thoughts and use instantaneous response as an incentive for engagement.

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Google+ - Google

Grades
8 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This Google tool integrates seamlessly with GMail, Picasa, Google Hangouts, Drive, Chrome, and other Google products. This is helpful in finding, using, and managing all your materials....more
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This Google tool integrates seamlessly with GMail, Picasa, Google Hangouts, Drive, Chrome, and other Google products. This is helpful in finding, using, and managing all your materials. Use Google Circles to create groups of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. Users are easily added and removed within Circles. Photos can easily be tagged and identified in Google+. Privacy is easily managed including a variety of privacy levels on your content. Share content easily even within Hangouts. In Google+, individual posts can be muted (which is nice when you are not interested in them and do not wish to see them anymore!). Be sure to download the mobile app for Google+ to stay connected on the go and even upload and tag your photos.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): chat (46), collaboration (48), DAT device agnostic tool (173), images (268), organizational skills (108), social networking (94)

In the Classroom

Connect all content, pictures, and other materials together. Students who already have a Google account already have access to Google+. Users are normally invited to "join" via an email message. This may be problematic in the many schools that do not permit student email access. Note that notifications sent by Google Docs may also land in "junk mail" folders or be blocked by spam filters. We suggest that you experiment with a small group of students to determine what will work in your particular situation. One option is to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home, using their personal email addresses, for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.

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