Saving Edchats!

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One of my greatest joys as an educator is having been a part of the #caedchat moderating team. Ever since we started back in February of 2013, it is has been a phenomenal experience. The #caedchat community has grown and many networks and friendships have been made through this hashtag. Our weekly chats have tackled many educational issues from integrating edtech, to focusing on our language learners, to supporting LGBTQ students. There have been many transformational conversations, thousands of tweets, and hundreds of resources that have been shared.

We have built a community out of a hashtag. Think about that. Just by placing a “pound” symbol in front of the letters “CAedchat” all of this was born. And I love this community. As do many other people.

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So what do you do when your community is threatened?

Last weekend, a spambot found our hashtag. This wasn’t just any spambot. It was a spambot spewing xxx-rated photos objectifying women at an alarming rate. As soon as you reported the photos and blocked the Twitter handle, a new Twitter handle appeared, recycling some of the very images you blocked. The tweets came into our hashtag quicker than we could block them. At first we thought, this spambot will just move on. But as the tweets increased even as our reporting increased, the task of getting the tweets to stop seemed insurmountable.

Direct messages began showing up in my inbox on Twitter. People asking me what are we going to do about this? The only response I had at first was to keep reporting and blocking. Reporting and blocking. Reporting and blocking. And don’t share the #caedchat hashtag with any new teachers at this point.

The #caedchat mods began brainstorming together in a DM group as well. David Theriault created some unique tweets. We started requesting that @Twitter, @Support, and @Jack (Twitter CEO) to please help us.

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And…

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And even asking politely…

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Then we learned we were not the only ones. These tweets appeared:

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And guess what? #sschat, #pblchat, and #dtk12chat had the same spambots. The same problems. The same objectifying xxx-rated images. This is when we all teamed up. We started a group DM and began brainstorming together. We all wished we had connections at Twitter. This problem just seemed so much bigger than us. It was even suggested we consider changing our hashtag, but to me that was always “plan z.” We wondered why this was happening to only our relatively small educational hashtags, when big hashtags like #edchat were unaffected? Well that didn’t last long. As soon as we uttered those words, a small amount of the spam tweets started to show up there as well.

Then before we knew it, on America’s glorious birthday, the tweets just stopped. After 5 days of battling the bots, they just disappeared.

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We don’t know exactly what helped our cause. It could have been the sheer number of people working to report and block on three different hashtags. It could have been the many tweets to@Twitter, @Support, or tweeting directly to @Jack. Whatever it was, the problem went away. We survived. We kept our hashtags. And our community is put back together again.

But we have to wonder. How vulnerable are our education related hashtags? After all, no one owns a hashtag. They are as public as a community park. Yet, unlike a community park, you can’t just call in for emergency services and get the creeps out of the park. And if it was our public park, emergency services would have shown up right away. But in the Twittersphere of hashtags, it took days. 5 days to be exact.

Our hashtags rely on all of us. If we want to keep this going, if we want to keep connecting on Twitter to learn and grow, we have to come up with some sort of strategy that will work. It is my hope that in sharing this whole ordeal in a blog post, we will at least have an archive of it happening. So far, I haven’t heard of this happening this badly with any other education related hashtag. But if so, if you have seen this happen before, please share the story of what happened and how you think you may have solved it.

Until then we are just thankful…

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Thank you to all who helped battle the bots!

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For the love of reading…

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Love ReadingI wasn’t a reader of books as a child. In fact I despised reading. I only remember reading Ramona Quimby Age 8 and a book about Mary Lou Retton. I never participated in the reading competitions where you had to fly your rocket to each planet for every hour you read. Only once did I participate. It was because my teacher made me. And I wasn’t happy. I wandered library shelves looking at covers, wasting the time until our teacher told us to line up. Then I’d grab something last minute then shove it in my desk until the day it had to be returned. I just didn’t have time to read. I needed to run, ride by bike, and do cartwheels. But that wasn’t the problem…

If you knew me now you’d laugh at that story of my childhood. I now love books. They are shoved into every nook of our home and my classroom. I talk about books like they are my friends, saying things like, “This book will change your life forever.” I can’t walk into a bookstore without walking out with a new adventure in my hand. I scavenge thrift stores and the Friends of the Library store for new books to add to my collection. I’m embarrassed to admit that once, my husband found me in a thrift store with a stack of books in my arms that I was preventing from falling by holding my chin down on them. My husband laughed at me and said, “No way… we are on a road trip and there just isn’t room in the car!”

My daughters’ rooms are littered with books as well. Just two days ago my youngest daughter cried when we weren’t going to have enough time to get to the library for her to get the next book in her series. My oldest soaks up books and is left craving for more at all times. In fact, I might even say she has read more books than me and she is only 11 years old!

Why is it so different for my daughters?
Why do they love to read?
Why didn’t I have that as a child?
And more importantly, how can we as educators continue to inspire my daughters’ love of books?

Please read this post by Pernille Ripp, titled The Five Truths of Reading.

Let’s help children find a love of reading and nurture that.

This week for Share #YourEdustory, we were challenged with sharing a book that has inspired us as our summer reading. I constantly refer to The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Her book justified my philosophy of keeping the element of choice alive in your reading program. Nothing kills motivation more than being told you MUST read this book. In addition, Donalyn speaks to the journey of finding books that inspire children. We must actively get to know our students so that we can find the books that hook the readers in our classroom. Because sometimes it just takes one book or one genre that will hook that reluctant reader in your classroom. It may be just one book that sparks a love for reading.

Share #YourEdustory.

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#CUE15 as told in my Sketchnotes

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Recently I attended #CUE15 in Palm Springs, California. Throughout the conference, I took sketchnotes of sessions I attended. It may seem as though I didn’t attend many sessions in the three days of the conference, but I did present three times and collaborated with my Quantum Academy team. We spent quite a bit of time doing some research on the vendor floor.

The presentations I was a part of were:

  • #caedchat Live!- This was a collaborative presentation with the moderators of #caedchat. We hosted a conversation based chat at the conference. Our theme was “How to Be More Ed Than Tech in an Edtech World.” It was great seeing so many of our PLN faces live and in person. Plus the added bonus was having conversations in more than 140 characters. Here is the resource doc we shared.
  • Global Games- This session was a collaborative session with Scott Bedley where we shared our stories of connecting our classrooms with other classrooms around the world. Here is the resource doc we shared.
  • Google Certified Teacher Panel- This was a collaborative session with other Google Certified Teachers. I shared how I use Paper53 to personalize my Google Slide presentations, docs, and forms. Here is the resource I shared. 

Here are the sketchnotes I created at #CUE15:

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Grassroots Learning

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This post is part of the Share #YourEdustory movement for week 14. The topic is: Describe your ideal conference: What is covered? Who is present?

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The ideal conference is grassroots. It is organized by the people for the people. Meaning, there isn’t a big company or organization that runs it. There are not huge sponsors. You are not handed a giant bag at check-in that is stuffed full of pamphlets and advertisements.

Rather a grassroots conference is brought about by a group of teachers. These teachers find a way to secure a location, gather some money to offer water to the attendees, and help to make the day run smoothly. A grassroots conference does not have a huge vendor hall or sessions led by companies hoping to sell you more edtech software. A grassroots conference does not have to have “speakers” or “presenters.” A grassroots conference honors all attendees and strives to build conversations and time to get hands on. A grassroots conference invites administrators to collaborate alongside. Grassroots conferences are free!

Some of the best learning I have experienced have been at Edcamps, which I believe is a strong grassroots movement. Also, my district has allowed teachers to run their own conference called Edtech2U where the goal is to inspire more teachers to integrate technology into their teaching. And don’t forget a small #CoffeeEDU is like a mini grassroots conference where teachers pick a time and place and meetup (usually at a coffee shop) to discuss educational issues for one hour.

While I still attend and even present at big conferences, I value the time spent at smaller grassroots conferences where I don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of session choices, the large vendor hall, and the thousands of attendees. I value my time at Edcamps where I have time to have deep conversations about education and make connections with teachers from all over.

What teachers need more than anything is not the newest and flashiest app or tech tool demonstrated for them, but rather time to talk about the “big education picture” and pedagogy. It is through those conversations where I have learned the most and been challenged to think even bigger. Grassroots learning builds connections, honors teacher voice, and establishes a community of collaborators.

To learn more about the Edcamp Movement, follow this link. To learn more about my district’s Edtech2U conference, follow this link. To learn more about #CoffeeEDU follow this link.

If you want to learn more about the Share #YourEdustory movement, follow this link and start sharing your story!

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My Path

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Share #YourEdustory week 8: “What was the defining moment you decided to be a teacher?”

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I couldn’t pinpoint just one moment of when I decided to become a teacher. Because I believe it was something that was built upon as my life unfolded. More of a journey than a defining moment. In fact, I might even say it is something that continues to build (or rather be reinforced).

However, here is a little bit of a history about my path to becoming a teacher…

Coming from a family history of teachers and administrators, I knew well the challenges of the teaching profession. Perhaps it was the influence of my mother or grandfather, but whatever it was I have always known that teaching was the career path of my future.

For me it was a question of, “A teacher of what?”

My first desire to become a teacher was in high school. I have always held a special spot for people with special needs and being a teacher in special education was my first interest. I used one of my free periods in high school to assist a special education teacher on campus. Through this experience I was able to bond with new friends and learn to have more compassion for the other students in my high school with whom had special needs.

I also had an inspiring English teacher my senior year of High School. She inspired me to believe that I had to be a high school English teacher to teach high schoolers to have a love of literature, poetry, and writing.

Then in college, I was so fascinated with all the doors that were opening up in my learning! I took a class about anthropology and I wanted to major in that. I took a class about geology and then I wanted to major in that. I was completely fascinated with learning at the college level and having choice in my classes. But it wasn’t until I volunteered in an elementary school for a college class requirement, that I fell in love with teaching children. I embraced the curiosity and innocence of the younger students and I felt right at home with the children with whom I worked. It was then that I began to study early childhood development and focused my studies on elementary education.

I dove into my studies of education. I quit my job at the coffee cart in the BMU at Chico State and got a job working in a pre-school to gain experience working with children. I began taking more Spanish classes so I could improve my language skills and the best classes I took in college were the classes that focused on education.

After college I moved back to San Diego County and got my teaching credential at CSU San Marcos and I couldn’t wait until I nailed down my first contract.

But I didn’t REALLY know that I was on the right path until I had my first class. Until I saw 20 sets of eyes looking to me. My true learning and inspiration came from my first class of kindergartners and first graders. I was able to loop my kindergartners from my first year of teaching and teach them first grade as well. It was the last day of their first grade year when I knew I wanted to be a teacher. When I saw those first graders leave my classroom as readers and writers and my heart was full. They had come to me in kindergarten, some of them not even knowing how to write their name, hold a pencil, and sing ABCs. Then all of the sudden, two years later, they were walking away from my classroom ready to take hold of the world as readers.

Through my 16 years of teaching, I continue to know I picked the right path for my life. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else other than teaching. As a teacher I can continue to be advocate for children and continue to be learner myself. With each new class comes a new adventure. A new journey for my students and I to embark together.

Henry David Thoreau says, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Through my 16 years of teaching, I continue to become a teacher. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else other than teaching. With each new class comes a new adventure. A new journey for my students and I to embark upon together.

To learn more about the Share #YourEdustory movement, visit this link.

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The Why

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Week 7 of Share #YourEdustory

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Simon Sinek – Start With Why – TED Talk Short Edited

Simon Sinek says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

While this short Ted Talk focuses on the business world, educators can easily relate to this as well. I think if you have been reading this blog regularly you know my “how” and my “what,” but you may only be guessing what my “why” is.

So here is why I do what I do:

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