Saturday, February 19, 2011

Twitter makes you dumber

Remember when it used to be cool to know everything?  You know, that Pointdexter at the front of the class that could answer every question.  The one who read ahead in the textbook so they looked fabulously smart for the teacher.  The one who knew that the teacher was going to be following that textbook chapter by chapter, page by page, and assign each question in the review before the big unit test.  Sadly, the rest of us Sweathogs (and if you don't know who those people are, just put "Welcome Back, Kotter" into a Youtube search, and you will see me in my senior high years) didn't really clue into that until years later.  We just marveled at how smart Pointdexter was.

I used to think I was pretty smart.  Not MENSA smart or anything like that.  But I could contribute to most conversations without sounding too moronic.  I could throw out the occasional fact that might wow one or two people, especially when they Google searched it and it was actually correct.  Perhaps a bit like our friend Ron Burgundy...

In my last post, The Evolution of a Twitter User, I talked about some of the feelings when I had when I first began to use Twitter.  But one thing that I failed to mention is that Twitter actually made me dumber...well, perhaps feel a bit dumber, because once I became connected to people in my own Personal Learning Network and then joined chats such as #edchat, #cpchat, #scichat, #mathchat, I realized that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of great ideas about pretty much any topic that you can possibly think of, and thousands and thousands of people that can and do contribute to those ideas to make them even better.

Once I became connected to a Learning Network, I quickly realized that I wasn't a "big deal", but I was rather insignificant deal in a gigantic pool of knowledge.  The best part of connecting to thousands of minds was while I might have felt "dumber" for a while, I also felt as though I became instantly smarter because I could tap into the knowledge, skills and resources of people from all around the world when I had a particular problem or needed some help.

An example of the power of the PLN was just this week.  I wanted to get some information from people on classroom walkthroughs.  I don't necessarily believe in them, to be perfectly blunt, but I wanted to have something that would make my visits to classrooms more purposeful and meaningful. I was also motivated by Douglas Fisher (an incredible speaker that I saw in Chicago a few months ago) and his thought of determining engagement of students in classes by trying to look at the number and types of interactions that were taking place in the classroom.  I tweeted out to my PLN a question about walkthroughs and quickly got a ton of materials and responses (thanks @Becky_elllis, @dmantz7, and @mmiller7571) from some fellow Tweeps within a few minutes.

Using some of the ideas sent to me, I thought that I might create a Google Doc form of a Classroom Walkthrough Tool that I could access on my Blackberry to collect data.  I made up a fairly rudimentary template of the SKSS Classroom Walkthrough Tool, tried it out a couple of times to make some modifications, and then thought, who better to ask about this tool than the guy who motivated me to do this (Doug Fisher) , and my PLN (you).  I will then take it to my Coordinators to see what they think of it next week, and then hopefully have some of our teachers to volunteer to work with this template to help them engage students in their classes.  So I sent this to Doug, and he was happy to help, and I am hoping that you might be able to as well.  Please make any notes that you want, steal it, share it, or comment.

And while I may never be Pointdexter all on my own, I think that I, like all of us, can be a great deal smarter when we share ideas and feedback with the collective through our Learning Network.Thanks for your help.


The Twitter Dummy (who is quite happy to be one!)


  1. Call,

    I started with a spreadsheet/checklist like yours. As I thought more about why I was recording data during walkthroughs, I used fewer and fewer columns. Here is a copy of last year's without real data. By January, I was only recording the teacher name, what was being taught/learned, and questions to ask. I also left a column to check off when I had a conversation with the teacher.

    The walkthroughs became less about gathering data and more about ensuring conversations.

  2. Here is the link


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