This was honestly one of the busiest days of the last several months for me as a teacher, starting with my impromptu, albeit productive, Google Wave session with @ShellTerrelland @MrR0g3rsat 5:30 in the morning and ending with my Twizza in-service. If you are just reading for the first time, you’re probably thinking something like: “Twizza? That sounds kind of like Twitter.” You’re on the right track. Twizza is an idea I blatantly stole from @lasic(with his blessing) whereby I introduced teachers to Twitter in an informal setting and gave them free pizza. I would like to thank my principal for buying the pizza and @WadleyMoosefor baking a nice pineapple upside cake.
Before I can really explain how Twizza went, I need to give you brief outline of the many obstacles we had to overcome to even have this meeting. First, 3 weeks ago, the director of technology agreed to review Twitter. I gave him some literature about how it could be used for professional development and for educational purposes. I plead my case in every way I know how. He came back with a decision that the school district is not ready to unblock Twitter. I am not here to speak poorly of my administration. I disagree with him, but I respect his decision. I invited him to my Twitter in-service nonetheless; he declined to come and told me to follow the proper channels. I did. My principal supported us and my assistant principal in charge of professional development registered the session with the appropriate people over a week ago so that teachers could get in-service credit and the site could be unblocked for a few hours. Having gone through such channels, we were fairly confident. Around noon, I received an email that said we could not meet as an in-service because Twitter is not considered as useful for professional development at this time. Twitter will remain blocked completely.
Of course, I already have people coming in from 4 different schools. There are Twitter apps that are unblocked that work, but they don’t work without an account. No matter what I tried, I could not figure out a way for teachers to make an account. It was too late to change venue. Plus, we just got back from a 5 day weekend because of snow days, so everyone forgot (including me until @WadleyMoosebrought in a cake at 6 am). Because of the snow days, I didn’t ask everyone to make an account at home.
So, we went on without accounts. Everyone had a good time. There was a lot of good discussion about the power and potential of Twitter. Almost everyone seems excited to try it and has agreed to give it a shot and send me their usernames, which I will add to the #cmcss directory. We went over how it works, how to use it in school, why to use it, how to find followers, and I even gave them a TweepML list to get the started following some helpful people. We also looked at last night’s #edchat, the quality of which impressed many. All in all, it was a success. We only have about 10 people show up, but if most of them start to use it well and spread the word, then I consider it a success. Even if they don’t, a good time and a good discussion took place, which is an accomplishment.
There was only one person who seemed to be less than excited. She was interested, but not being able to sign up for an account was a great hindrance and it kept her from being able to really participate well. She kept an open mind and agreed to seek help from @hankbat her school, so there is hope. Unfortunately, some people will not be able to fully utilize the power of social networking while most social networks are blocked, which is the real shame.