Note: I began this post literally over month ago on November 1, but wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with it after I told the story here. After receiving a comment asking me to write more on my blog, I decided I should at least finish this one. I did, and now hope it feels connected, as the experience with injenuity’s plea for help really did resonate deeply with me, and I’m not sure I did my thinking justice with my ending here. Oh, well, here goes:
Twitter has reduced the isolation of the classroom for me and allowed me to connect, meet and affirm and be affirmed by educators all over the world. I have discovered intellectual opportunities and online conferences I had no idea existed, and been involved in conversations that have stretched me, made me laugh, made me sad and increased both my empathy towards and concern about world issues. I have met people in this online adventure that I know I will see in RL–and I am looking forward to that opportunity. LOTS of folks have written about Twitter, and I know I am simply one more. However, my take on Twitter is slightly different because I want to talk about the metacognitive aspects of this amazing microblogging service.
On Twitter last night a Twitterbuddy, @injenuity, asked for help with understanding her child’s “critical thinking” homework. Being a Gifted Resource Teacher, I thought, “Ooh, I bet I can help here” and clicked on her link to the flickr picture of the child’s homework. It was sad. Labeled “Critical Thinking” by the publisher, it was a simple worksheet where the students were to simply x out the math fact that did not belong in the “fact family.” They then were to match the rectangle that held three related facts to the correct picture. While that may sound simple to the elementary educator familiar with the lingo, the layout of the worksheet was extremely poor, directions were minimal, and it was hard to figure out exactly what to do. Maybe THAT’S the critical thinking part of this worksheet.
While several of us on Twitter were helping Jen understand how to help her daughter, I noticed there were multiple conversations going on with the conversants. @tomwhyte1, her initial responder, was also conversing with @cbell about the fact we were tutoring a parent about a child’s homework on Twitter and making up names for this new service–however, twutor.com was already taken. I explained fact families and gave an example, and Jen responded to me while @monarchlibrary was sending a web site that showed and explained it as well. Jen’s daughter was worrying that her Mother was “cheating” by asking her friends for help and we were all responding to that concern. @courosa began a new conversation talking about how many homework assignments he had seen were meant for entrapment. @tomwhyte1 and Jen were exchanging their usual level of repartee–initially starting out as picking on or teasing one another and moving to genuine help as Tom realized Jen was sincere in asking for help. Jen spoke as a Mom about going to her child’s school and nodding without understanding when the teacher referred to “fact families” in the recent parent night for her child, and I began wondering how many times our “educationalese” astounds/confuses really intelligent people. Jen and her daughter were also trying to figure out the pictures, when @KevinByers joined in to help her with that. Tom continued his conversation with both Jen and @cbell, Jen continued with me, @courosa AND @KevinByers, and I began two other conversations about two other topics with @nnorris and @dmcordell (who was also conversing with @courosa).
Both Jen and I were very aware of all the things happening here at the same time (as were several of the others, I am sure) as she commented on this experience being a blog for her later, and she was keeping up with at least four conversations at once, all working on different aspects of her issue. The fact that she commented on it, (and later wrote about it on her blog) and that I was thinking about it is what got me thinking about metacognition and Twitter.
Some people like Plurk better for microblogging, saying they get lost in the randomness of Twitter. I do NOT like Plurk better, because it seems to be linear, and that makes it NOT as interesting to me. I LOVE seeing a comment on Twitter, not understanding it, and backtracking through the person who posted it (or the person they are talking with) to figure out the context. I often ask a question that gets me IN that conversation and I make new Twitterbuddies that way. I also find new folks to follow that way as well.
Twitter, for me, is WAY beyond a microblogging service. It is a way to connect and to find new thinkers to add to my world. It is also a puzzle, a way to entertain my overactive brain, and an avenue for fun as I explore new opportunities I learn from my Twitterverse. I laugh out loud at least once a day as I read, and I love that I have funny people in my online world. (I ESPECIALLY appreciate @injenuity for her stories as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and her quirky sense of humor.) I so appreciate all of you whom I follow for allowing me to observe your thinking and sharing. Thanks, too, to the folks who follow me. I hope I give you as much to think about as I get from your sharing and thinking in public.