Education, Fun Friday, Games, K-12, Language Arts, Teaching Tools, Websites


UPDATE 3/31/2022: As of March, 2022, Poetweet appears to no longer be working. Sorry!

Happy Phun Phriday!  It’s time for another completely frivolous blog post that might inadvertently inspire you to waste huge chunks of time on an activity that is not productive in any way.

I actually had Poetweet slated to be a Phun Phriday post a few weeks ago, but the site went down right when I was about to blog about it.  It seems to be working now, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the bazillions of people who read this post won’t break it by trying to access Poetweet at the same time 😉

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You don’t have to have a Twitter account to use Poetweet – but you need to know someone’s Twitter handle.  All you do is type in the handle, then choose what type of poem you would like (Sonnet, Rondel, or Indriso), and the magic happens.

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I don’t really know how it works.  And the poems don’t necessarily make sense – but then again, aren’t the best poems deliberately incomprehensible?  When you are viewing the poem on the Poetweet site, you can actually scroll over the lines to find out what Tweet they were found in.

Here are the three poems I made from my Twitter handle last night. Some lines are weirdly insightful…

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3-12, Apps, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, Language Arts, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0, Writing

Reflections on our GT Twitter Chat

A few weeks ago, a few of the teachers in our district participated in a Twitter Chat.  The topic was to S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Education.  You can read more about the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. chat here.

After the chat, a few of the GT teachers suggested that it might be fun to try doing the same chat with our students.  So, last week, we decided to try it.

I’m not sure how many schools ended up participating in the chat, but I believe there were around 13 classes.  Some of us had the students respond to the teacher who then tweeted out the answers, and some of us allowed our students to group up and use various devices.  It was not smooth-sailing.  Here were some of the glitches:

  • Twitter and Tweetdeck are blocked under student sign-in in our district.
  • Tweetdeck kept refreshing and losing columns at the beginning of the chat in my classroom (maybe for other people, too).  We surmised that this might be b/c more than one device was using the same account.  However, after we refreshed the page on the 6 laptops it seemed fine.
  • Some of us couldn’t see each other’s tweets because some of our accounts are private.  We made sure we were all following each other beforehand, but that still didn’t seem to help everyone.  Fortunately, everyone knew the questions ahead of time, so even though they couldn’t all see them, they could guess by the responses which question had been asked.

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for the teachers and the students.  Most of my students (5th graders on that day) had never used Twitter and finally understood the use of hashtags.  Many of them saw ideas that were new to them and got different perspectives on the topics.

For example when we went over the questions before the chat, one of my students was adamant that we should eliminate art from the curriculum.  I told him that he would probably find that many people would disagree and that he would have to be able to support his viewpoint.  Sure enough, others strongly argued that art is vital. This exchange turned out to be an excellent lesson on multiple perspectives as well as social media etiquette.

A student from another school suggested getting rid of free time – which caused a public outcry in my classroom.  However, a few minutes later the writer explained that he or she disliked all of the time wasted when students finish work early and are just “told to read a book.”  Again, another lesson on how important it is to ask people to explain themselves instead of just immediately condemning their opinions – also a lesson that the brevity used in social media can sometimes distort the message you are trying to communicate.

After all was said and done, I asked my 18 students to complete a reflection about the experience.  (Yes, we did old-school handwriting b/c some of their typing can be painfully slow!)  When I surveyed them, most of them gave the chat a 2 or 3 (3 was the highest).  However, there were a couple of 1’s.  Understandably, those students found the whole procedure to be too chaotic and fast.

Would we do it again? Yes, I think seeing different points-of-view is really helpful for my students. I’m still debating the importance of keeping our account private.  I also am considering giving students the option of participating or not.  Those who opt out can consider the topic in an alternative way.

If you are interested in doing the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. chat in your district, here is a link to the document Kimberly Ball (gttechguru) made for us to use to prepare the students for the chat.  And, if you’re not ready to do Twitter, check out this great Google Tweeter Template from Tammy Tang that will help you to simulate the process!



Apps, Education, K-12, Teaching Tools, Websites

Visualizing Tweets

I’ve been playing around with a couple of different ways to organize my firehose of a Twitter stream, and these are some of my recent favorites.  I wouldn’t necessarily use all of these “live” with my students, as there is always a chance of having something inappropriate suddenly appear.  However, you might want to save some images or screen shots to share with them.

First of all, my absolute favorite way of participating in a Twitter Chat is to use Tweetdeck.  Even though you can use it on mobile devices, I like it best on my laptop or desktop computer screens because I can add several columns to follow at the same time.  I can also delete the columns quickly to clean up my screen or add new columns.


Another way to look at a Twitter stream, whether it’s your own or a particular hashtag, is to use TweetBeam, the self-described “pretty way to display tweets.”  TweetBeam might be a bit disorienting, as it creates a collage of profile pics in the stream.  You can roll your mouse over the pics to see recent tweets.  Or you can just leave the wall up on your screen and tweets will pop up.  As far as I can tell, TweetBeam is browser-based only.  You can add filters and specific search parameters to limit what shows up – but I frankly don’t have the time!

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Visible Tweets (also browser-based) has a few interesting ways to display tweets.  You can show them one at a time letter-by-letter or rotating.  Or, you can also create a word cloud.  I don’t really like the word cloud, but the other two animations would be fun to use if you are presenting at a conference.

Visible Tweets
Visible Tweets

I did find a free word cloud app for Twitter that I really like.  In fact, I wasted about 30 minutes last night just playing with it.  It’s called Tweetroot.  It’s currently an iOS only app.  You can search people, hashtags, and user mentions.  There are color, font, word count, and other options.  Here is an example from our #neisdpln chat:


And, finally, if you want to summarize a stream of tweets from a particular person or hashtag, then Storify is a handy tool.  You can see an example of a “Storified” chat here.

So the next time you get overwhelmed by a fast-moving stream of words, remember there are lots of alternatives!

Creative Thinking, Education, K-12

#neisdpln Rocks!

Just to clarify, I knew all of the people involved in last night’s chat would be great.  I was just worried that I would mess up as host – spell something wrong, forget the hashtag, lose my wi-fi connection.

I almost didn’t have a wi-fi connection.  But that’s a long, boring story. Suffice it to say that only a few people looked at me sideways as I camped out in a booth at a local restaurant with a caffeine-free Diet Coke, my laptop, an iPad, and my iPhone blanketing the table.

You can see my concerns about last night’s chat here.  I have a Storify of the entire chat here. (I apologize for all of the duplicate tweets – not sure what happened there.)

I’ve participated in lots of chats.  It surprised me how interesting it was to be the “Questioner” as opposed to an “Answerer.”  To be honest, I couldn’t think of a lot of great answers to my questions when I was writing them.  I obviously don’t have the vision that many other people have!

It’s hard to pick a few highlights because there were so many great responses.  I’m just going to randomly choose a few, and encourage you to visit the Storify when you have time.

What would you SUBSTITUTE for grades? (Lots of consensus on this one!)

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What other venue would you COMBINE a school with? (Rackspace was a frequent answer!)

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How do you think schools will need to ADAPT 20 years in the future?

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.36.07 PMMany seemed to agree with Amy on that answer!

MODIFY!  If you could make anything bigger or smaller about school, what would it be? (This is where we had a LOT of really creative answers!)

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PUT TO ANOTHER USE – What is another use for teachers? (Thanks to Julia for posting this question yesterday!)  

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What would you ELIMINATE  from schools today? (And yes, testing was a popular response!)

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And, finally, how would you REARRANGE the curriculum?

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.48.08 PMThanks to all who participated.  Don’t forget to join us next Monday for #neisdpln, 7 PM CST.  I have no idea the topic or who is hosting, but it’s sure to be a fascinating conversation!




Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Teaching Tools

Join Us for the #neisdpln Chat!

I’m not sure how I get myself into these things.  After all, it’s been little more than a year since I participated in my first Twitter chat. But somehow I ended up agreeing to host this week’s #neisdpln chat. Not only have I never done this before, but I’m not even sure where I’ll be at 7 PM (CST) tonight as I will be in the middle of my weekly marathon carpool.  But that’s usually how I roll – jump out of the plane and then start reflecting on where I last saw my parachute…

You’re welcome to join us tonight even if you aren’t in NEISD.  It’s going to be a kind of brainstorming session.  I decided to make the topic, “S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Education.”  Here are the planned questions:

  • Substitute – Tell about one thing you would substitute for grades in schools.
  • Combine – If you could combine a school with another venue, what would it be?
  • Adapt – Name 1 way you think schools will be drastically different 20 years from now.
  • Modify – If you could make anything bigger or smaller about your school, what would it be?
  • Put to Another Use
  • Eliminate – What would you take out of the curriculum?
  • Rearrange – How would you rearrange a school or curriculum?

Note that I don’t have a question for “P” yet.  Any suggestions are welcome!

Join us for #neisdpln


Education, Geography, K-12, Research, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0

A First for First – Mystery Tweeting

You may remember a post I did last week on using Twitter with younger students, based on a presentation by Matt Gomez about his Kindergarten class’ experience with “Twitter Friends.”  I couldn’t wait to try connect my 1st graders with a class on Twitter, and was thrilled to receive a reply to my request for 1st gradeTwitter buddies from a teacher in Illinois.

We decided to do a Mystery Chat – similar to a Mystery Skype. Our students came up with names for the private accounts we set up (that was an interesting brainstorming session!), and we scheduled the chat for yesterday morning.

Before the chat, my class came up with some questions to ask to help them determine where the other class was located.  I also set them up with some iPads and laptops to practice looking at some maps and Googling some basic questions.

The experience was not without its hiccups.  Map questions seemed to be okay, but we haven’t done a lot of internet research yet.  So, when the mystery class asked us what our state food is, we all looked at each other with wide eyes.  To help the class out, I typed “state food of Texas” into Google in a separate window from our chat, and we had an interesting discussion on not going with the first piece of information you find on a Google search.  I was pretty sure our state food couldn’t be bread!

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 8.13.05 PMAfter a bit more investigation, we found a few sources that seemed to agree that our state food is chili.

With little time left, the 1st graders did not have time to try to Google which state has the violet as its state flower, a clue which our mystery class had given us.  They are still hunting and pecking on the keyboard, so I typed it in for them, and found out that our mystery state was in Illinois.

I was a bit worried about the lag time between responses and questions, and was concerned the students would find the experience a bit boring.  But, by the end of the period, they were on the edges of their seats.  When they found out the state touched the Great Lakes, they immediately honed in on Michigan.  When we finally learned the true location, it seemed to mystify them.

“Illinois?!!!!  Who would have guessed Illinois?”

Later in the day, I saw one of my first graders in the bus line, and she ran to hug me.  “I still can’t believe they live in Illinois!!!!!” she exclaimed.

They are looking forward to our next chat with the Illinois class, and we are hoping to connect with more classes around the world.  If you missed my updates to the post about Twitter for younger students, you might want to take a look, as it includes a great resource for finding classes interested in connecting on Twitter in other regions.