Tag Archive | Twitter

Our Twitter Chat with Australia!

Australia book   In 2007 Mrs P, a teacher in Australia, sent a copy of this book to Mrs V and her class. This term we’ve been using it for our book study. It’s about an Australian family who go on a three month caravan tour of their home country.

 We’re really enjoying the book, but we had some questions about Australia and what it might be like to live there.

Mrs V suggested that we could ask Mrs P some of the questions on twitter

On Tuesday, Mrs V logged in to our twitter account and we began asking our questions.

We were all astonished when we realised that Mrs P was on twitter at the same time as we were, and she began to answer our questions as we asked them!

Later, we looked at all the conversations we’d had on twitter and we decided to make a classroom display so that we could share what we’d learned.

We’ve also turned our question and answer twitter conversation into a short movie so that we can share what happened here on our blog. We even added some Aboriginal didgeridoo music to entertain you while you read through the conversations we had.

Have a look below and please leave a comment to let us know what you think 🙂



Social Networking Thoughts

Last week, Ollie Bray came to Falkirk to talk to a small group about Internet Safety and Responsible Use. I really enjoyed listening to what Ollie had to say, especially his views on raising awareness on how the web works (with teachers and parents/carers, as well as students) and about taking responsibility to protect reputations online.

We discussed how children as young as Primary 4/5 stages are now using social network sites like Bebo and MySpace. These sites are not accessible to children in our Local Authority. Staff members, however, can access the sites after bypassing a warning message that they can proceed to the website at their own discretion. Although twitter was also mentioned, it was more in a ‘while we’re on the subject’ sort of sideways conversation. 

When I came home, however, I was surprised to read Anna’s new post about twitter  and her thoughts about how ” it’s becoming the new bebo,myspace etc“. I’ve since been followed on my own twitter account by seven of my ex Carronshore bloggers and this has got me thinking about social networks in general.

When I received Anna’s request to follow me on twitter (my account was locked for a short time – but that’s another story), I thought long and hard about the ethics and whether or not this was acceptable. I remember creating a Bebo account in the past to allow me to keep tracks on my No.3 son while he roamed about Canada on a gap year. At the time some Primary 7 girls must have tracked me down on there and I noticed the requests. I (tactfully?) explained to the girls that this would not be appropriate …. so why the change of heart now that the same thing has happened on twitter?

I’ll try to analyse my thinking here:

  • My Bebo site was set up for personal reasons and I was a bit taken aback when the girls (very innocently) requested to follow me. We had shared exchanges online before via the class blog and their individual blogs, as well as this blog, but crossing that line to a ‘social network’ site was  definate ‘no no’ at the time. The very thought of us exchanging correspondence out of the public eye just seemed instinctively wrong to me. Actually, it wouldn’t  have made a difference if the sites were public – I would still have felt uncomfortable.
  • My twitter site, on the other hand, was set up initially for CPD purposes. A quick look back at my twitter account origin reveals that the people I first followed were already authors of educational blogs. I was a regular reader of  John’s, David’s, Neil’s, David’s and Ewan’s among others and they were all twitter users, so I thought I’d give it a go.
  • I was amazed at the CPD opportunities that twitter offered and blogged about it on a number of occasions on here. And it may even have been similar CPD prospects that helped me decide (not lightly, I might add!) to allow the ex Carronshore bloggers to follow me – and why I feel comfortable following them back.
  •   I feel that I know these students well. When I received the ‘follow’ invites from Anna, Nina, Bethany, RhiannJaydean, Marc and Ryan I remembered the Blog posts and wiki stories we shared. I’ve blogged on a number of occasions about the change in the classroom climate that was brought about by this sharing. There was a level of trust involved in the set up – but the advantages outweighed any risks
  •  A significant difference between bebo, etc and twitter is that twitter is somehow more accepted in educational circles. Twitter is less likely to be blocked by Local Education Authorities…. and even the CPD Scotland Team encourage its use 🙂

Anyway, it seems that Anna has started an ‘ex Carronshore students’  blogging trend …. I hope it continues. It would be great to read more posts from them 🙂

TeachMeet Beginnings … in Falkirk?

teachmeet  blog


I was asked casually recently if I would consider organising a teachmeet event here in Falkirk. I’ve attended four different teachmeet type events – the first one was in 2007 . I must have heard about it via someone’s blog at the time. When I signed up to go along and be part of the event, I recognised 3 or 4 names on the list   .. but when I look at that same list now, at least 40 of the names are known to me – how my learning network has grown!! Since then, I’ve attended TeachMeet08 SLF2008, TeachMeetSE09 and LeadMeet09 ….. and I’ve also signed up for TeachmeetSLF09. It’s evident from the wiki activity that the TeachMeet concept is extremely popular in the UK, and further afield  but I wasn’t sure where TeachMeet originated from.

Organising one here in Falkirk seemed very daunting but it soon became clear that at least a few others might be willing to become ‘co-organisers’. Cassie, Rich and Scott seem ‘up for it’, but how do we spread the message to others in the authority? Over the next two weeks, however, I’ll be in contact with the ICT co-ordinators from each primary school and it seems like a good opportunity to introduce them to the idea. Teachers from schools in each cluster come along for a half day to hear about ‘what’s new in ICT in our authority’ and I have a short slot to talk about a possible Falkirk TeachMeet and get some feedback from them – but where to begin? It seems to me that I need to tell them the whole story in order to ‘sell the idea’. I considered sharing the rules, etc. but the gaps in my knowledge about about the origin of how TeachMeet started led me to ask my twitter network and, as usual, helpful replies began flooding in. Thanks to Nick, Ian, Rob, Ewan, David, another David and Andy ( apologies if I’ve forgotten to mention anyone who replied)

So here’s the story …. as I understand it.

The story of TeachMeet begins in May 2006. Ian S wrote a blog post about how much he regretted not having been there. He said  …

 “In 2006 I missed an opportunity. Its not often I look back and ‘I wish I had done that’ but this was definitely one of them.”

I can understand why Ian was sorry that he didn’t accept the invitation to attend. According to the ScotEduBlogMeetup wiki it was a great success. This is a quote from the wiki:

 “What a night!   We had a great and productive night and the wifi worked! “

Andrew Brown also mentioned the impact that ‘meetup’ had on him in this blog post. 

He wrote:

Last year I went through for both eLive06 and TeachMeet06, which were brilliant. It was a great opportunity to meet up with people that I had been reading online for some time, and put faces, personalities and perhaps most importantly contacts to the words and pictures streaming in to my aggregator. About a dozen people, some of whom I had met before, but a great opportunity. I came home on the train the next day very positive and enthusiastic about the future of developing community around the country/world in using technology in education.”

    David Muir teachmeet 1 mediumprovided a link on twitter to a photograph taken on the evening in the Jolly Judge in Edinburgh. He mentioned that it was taken  …… “before we invented the name“.

So when did the term ‘TeachMeet’ first appear? How did it evolve from the May 2006 ScotEduBlogMeetup …… to newtechmeet…. to the TeachMeet name (and home) we know today?

Well ……  I’ve found this great discussion of how the name TeachMeet was coined and I think I can trace the ‘invention’ of the name back to David Muir’s contribution to the wiki. David wrote an entry on the discussion area.

He had this to say:

” I posted a whole pile of suggestions – mostly for my own amusement rather than as serious suggestions. I like the sound of ScotEduSlam but I think it falls down on the “does what it says on the tin” criteria. The other one I like is TeachMeet. I saw that Ewan called this page “newtechmeet” and remembered that a wise man once said, “It’s not the tech, it’s the teach!”  So I came up with TeachMeet… which almost rhymes.”

So there it is –  the name ‘TeachMeet‘ was ‘born’ 🙂 …. but I still need to find the answer to another twitter question I posed:

How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?”

The twitter responses all point to one source:

  • “How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?” My guess would be that it was thanks to @ewanmcintosh
  • @ewanmcintosh was the real driving force behind teachmeet but it was also an idea whose time had come!
  • @ewanmcintosh For which we are eternally grateful!
  • TeachMeet came out of many conversations and frustration with establishment. Sleepless nights & £s from me 😉

The last entry here came from Ewan McIntosh and I’m pleased that he worked so hard to help TeachMeet grow ‘so big so quickly’  ……… and there might even be one in Falkirk  at some point to add to the ‘TeachMeet portfolio’ 🙂

Secondment – Half Way Thoughts

The first half of my 23 month secondment as an ICT Support officer is now over – and it went by in a flash! I think I spent most of it ‘finding my feet’. The courses I provided were a mixture of ones that were either:

  • in place before I came in to post
  • developed to meet the needs of particular schools
  • added by drawing on tools and activities I had used previously in my own classroom practice
  • devised as a direct result of having heard of their existance via my twitter network.

Like last session, I plan to prepare CPD activities (just one of a number of remits) by introducing teachers to the available online tools I learn about via twitter. Courses on using tools such as Xtranormal or GoAnimate  were  well received last session – and I would not have known of their existence if it hadn’t been for the sharing culture I’ve become accustomed to by following my fellow ‘twitterers’.  More and more useful free online tools are becoming available at such a fast pace that it’s hard to keep up. Next session, I have some new ideas planned – but this post will concentrate on just one :

Blogging with Classes

The best find I’ve discovered for next session is a new blog host to recommend to teachers here. I came across it via an email a colleague at work received. When I took up this secondment post, I had been using edublogs for a couple of years. There were little annoying things like the slowness, and the occasional unexpected ‘down-times’ .. but it was free and it was under the umbrella of  ‘education’ so it served my purpose. I’d also used eduBuzz to host a blog that I wanted to set up to compliment our photaday project adventure – and this led me to have the confidence to set up pupil individual blogs thanks to David Gilmour’s expertise 🙂

The following year, I managed to successfully set up individual pupil blogs via edublogs. At the time, they recommended using learnerblogs for pupils. The blogs were set up in such a way that I had equal administrative rights on each pupil blog, and comments needed to be moderated before appearing on a blog. This set-up worked well for a while. During the course of the year, however, learnerblogs were no longer supported by edublogs and advertisements began appearing on the pupils’ blogs. Annoying spam comments also began to surface on a few of the blogs.

One weekend, however, I noticed a disturbing comment on the class blog. It was from one of the primary 7 pupils. Monica wrote:

Hey i really enjoyed Crucial Crew it was great fun. Please would you visit my blog as someone has left a comment i dissaprove of. I dont knoe who it is. It is quite rude.
Bye x

When I investigated her blog, I was horrified to find that the comment was extremely offensive … so much so, that I immediately deleted her blog  – a decision made in haste. I spent the rest of the weekend setting up edublog accounts for the children and, on the Monday, I demonstrated to the class how to export all the information from their learnerblog accounts and import it in to their new edublogs one. I also explained how to activate the Akismet plugin and gave them a necessary API Key to enable it to work.

All went well after that, and I successfully completed a case study on my experience of giving the children in my class their own online space – and when I started my secondment post, I had no problem recommending using edublogs as a free blogging platform for other teachers in the Local Authority. The recommendation was short lived, however, when inapproriate adverts began appearing on the edublogs class blogs. The only solution was to sign up to be an edublogs supporter. It doesn’t cost a lot, really, to make a blog ad-free, and you can add 30 more blogs (a class set?) to that account so that they’re ad-free, too.

But there’s a catch ….. being ad-free is all they’re entitled to. There’s no option on these blogs to add any plugins – so Monica’s ‘extremely offensive’ spam comment could be repeated again and again … much more disturbing than just an annoying advert!!

And then it happened .. PrimaryBlogger to the rescue!!


I’ve already moved the Carronshore edublogs class blog over to Carronshore primaryblogger.

Cassie and primary 5L/W did a fantastic job of keeping it going last session. Next session, Evelyn W – our school art specialist (and my Chartered Teacher buddy), will use it to allow the Carronshore pupils to display and discuss their artwork.

 I plan on providing three twighlight sessions:

  • A ‘taster’ session to introduce participants to the world of blogging with classes
  • An introductory session on how to set up a class blog
  • A third session to explore activities and available tools that can be used to take class blogging further

I’ve also (very quickly and easily) set up some ‘training blogs’ that can be used during twighlight sessions. These are shown in the screenshot below. Everyone will sign in to the main falkirkcpd blog, then scroll to their allocated blog on the dashboard. I’ve set 10 up, with the idea that participants can work through activities in pairs.


I’m off now to work on ideas for giving children space on a wiki so that they can build up their own ePortfolio. Thanks to Jaye for introducing me to the concept …. via twitter of course 🙂

Twitter to the Rescue Again …. and Again…. and Again

I have three things (at least) to thank Twitter for recently – and I’ve been so grateful for all three that I’ve ‘harassed’ myself all day into writing this blog post!

So here goes:

  • First big thank you is to Jaye for the Glow mug. I mentioned on twitter that I thought it might be a good idea if she gave me one of her newly aquired hoard – and she did – much appreciated:-)

New Glow Mug! from margaret vass on Vimeo.

  • Next up – a great big thank you to John McLear for helping me on twitter when I couldn’t get a photopeach story to play on Falkirk’s ‘soon to be’ new blogging platform The conversation went a bit like this:


The  Carronshore Blog home is in safe hands, I think. The promise of being free, having no ads, and speedy twitter (and email) help is just grat – what more do we need 🙂

  • The number 3 Twitter rescue happened this weekend when I logged on and discovered that some twitter contacts were logging in to CANVAS . I’d forgotten my login detais, but one of the ‘twitterers’ was Derek Robertson and he sent me a twitter direct message and I was able to visit the world. All didn’t go too well on that visit 🙂


… But I got there eventually.

 Here’s some images already in the Falkirk CANVAS Art Gallery space. They’re all by the children at Carronshore Primary School – I’ve also included some others that will be added soon – enjoy:-)

CANVAS on PhotoPeach

Another Twitter Find!

On Friday I logged on to my twitter account to see what was happening. I’d signed up for the education 2020   flashmeeting session – but I’ll save that experience for another post 🙂

When I logged on to twitter I found (as usual) loads of  links to new sites useful for education. One of these was praising http://photopeach.com/home so I’ve been palaying around with it today. My effort looked good to me on the photopeach site … so fingers crossed that it’ll look good on here too 🙂

The Story of the Carronshore Blog on PhotoPeach