Tuesday, August 11, 2009

JPPSS Technology Institute - Day 1

All of the teachers, paras, nurses, couselors, etc. of the Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) are taking part in an historic professional development inititive today and tomorrow at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Louisiana. Our superintendent, Dr. Diane Roussel, along with the JPPSS technology department headed by chief technology officer, Dr. Mabel Moore, have pulled together a technology conference to rival the likes of NECC. The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) which is hosted by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is held annually. The venue for NECC was Washington, D.C. this year and I was fortunate enough to have attended it also.

Planning for the two-day JPPSS event began last school year and continued over the summer. Presentators and keynote speakers were gathered, presentations schedules were created, sponsors were lined up and all of the logistics were worked out by the many people involved. I can only image the long hours and personal scarifices that were made to plan and carry out an event like this.

Today began with all of us gathered together in Hall J of the convention center to be greeted by our superintendent. I could feel the pride she has for our school system and was greatly touched as she got chocked up at several points during her speech. She was followed by C.H. "Sonny" Savoie, president of the Natioanal School Board Association, Tony Wagner, author and co-director of the Change Leadership Group, and Supriya Jindal, First Lady of Louisiana and a graduate of the JPPSS. Then the audience attended the breakout sessions. These included workshops, lab sessions, and a presentation by Alan November, senior partner and founder of November Learning.

I was very active all day posting updates of the day's events to Twitter (Do a Twitter search for JPPSS to see all the things I learned today), growing my PLN (personal learning network) and expanding my knowledge of ways to integrate technology into my classroom. I overheard many excited teachers saying that they couldn't wait to try out all of the "cool" things they were learning. We left the convention center tired but renewed and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Thank you to Dr. Diane Roussel and everyone who made today a wonderful success and we'll see you tomorrow. As a way to show our gratitude for this wonderful experience, I had some of the teachers at my school create this VoiceThread.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So What is a Tweetpanel?

Yesterday evening I was fortunate enough to be part of an experiment - tweetpaneling - conducted by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) on Twitter. A tweetpanel is where several people agree to discuss a common topic with a set of questions, hashtags, and topics ahead of time to be posted at intervals to increase interest and discussion on those topics on Twitter.

A few days before she had put out a tweet asking anyone wanting to be a panelist to join the wiki she had started for this experiment. She cautioned us that we would be learning as we go. I decided to sign up still more than a little confused about what I was supposes to do. As the days passed Vicki was obviously brainstorming how she wanted this experiment to unfold. She sent the panelist emails to keep us informed as well as she could. Then the day arrived with a new email from Vicki telling the panelist that the hashtag for the experiment was #edchat and to use this particular TweetGrid.

Well I almost bailed. I knew what a hashtag was but I knew nothing about TweetGrid. Then I found out I could set up tweets to be sent out at an assigned time using TweetLater. Now I had another tool to learn. Well, I love a challenge so I decided to try my best to do what Vicki (in Georgia) was envisioning for the rest of us.

I spent about an hour going through the videos and tutorials on the TweetGrid and TweetLater sites to prepare for my role in this experiment. As I was learning I found myself getting excited about this event. I could "see" what Vicki was trying to get us to accomplish. I finished setting up my tweets with the best resources I could find in my Delicious account for each topic about 5 minutes before the "great tweetpanel experiment" was scheduled to commence.

Then the clock struck the hour and we were off. Well all I can say is I yelled whoppee out loud when my first preset tweet hit the tweetstream. I beamed happily as the TweetGrid screens I set up began to fill up with dozens of tweets with the #edchat hashtag. I got so swept up in what was unfolding online that I was an hour and a half late meeting friends out for dinner and drinks. My TweetDeck kept chirping with dozens of mentions as people retweeted me and my friends sent me many DM's (direct messages) saying how great this thing was working. In the middle of all this madness I saw a tweet about an EdTechTalk that was streaming at the same time. So I decided to log into the session for a short time. Vicki saw that I had done that and she joined me in the chat room of the show as our tweetpanel experiment carried on.

In the middle of all this fun I had to leave the house and go to meet my friends. When I arrived at the restaurant I tried to explain why I was so late. I whipped out my iPhone and showed them what was going on. Needless to say they were not impressed as none of them are teachers or twitterers. During dinner I kept sneaking peeks at my iPhone and smiled as I checked my gmail to see about two dozens noticifications about new followers on Twitter.

The best part was the Web 2.0 Smackdown that was scheduled for the last 10 minutes of the tweetpanel. A smackdown is where the panelist share the newest tools or websites they can find with others. I had set up my TweetLater account to tweet one new tool every minute from 7:50-7:59 p.m. CDT. The stream was really flowing during this time. I didn't even realize that Vicki was no longer with us. (Read her post to find out what happened.) I went to bed when I returned home from my dinner with my friends feeling that the "experiment" had been successful.

I got scared this morning when I couldn't get on Twitter or TweetDeck. Uh oh! Had I had my Twitter account suspended? Had our little experiment done smething to hurt the Twitter world? I couldn't ask anyone because I couldn't contact them via our usual means of communication. I couldn't even get logged into my Facebook account. Boy, was I relieved when I later found out that Twitter shut down for a couple of hours due to others who were maliciously trying to harm their system.

I deinitely learned a lot yesterday on my lifelong journey as a learner. I hope you did to.