Tag Archives: Twitter

NCTE 14: The Story of a First-Timer

So, I did it! I finally went to NCTE, and it. was. amazing. My kids survived without me for two days. The house was still standing when I returned home. And I would say that my first trip away from my family in thirteen years went off without any major hitches.

Well, that’s if you don’t count me leaving my Ipad at home, my phone dying first thing in the morning, and oh, wait…leaving my charger behind as well. So, some small hitches I guess. I felt a little disconnected, not being able to tweet during sessions or use the convention app with my intricately planned itinerary.  But, none of that really mattered, because I MET:



The wonderful Rules author, Cynthia Lord


National Book Award winner, Jacqueline Woodson


GRA 14 author, Lynda Mullaly Hunt


It’s Kylene Beers! Kylene Beers, people!


Author of Rump, The True Story of Rumplestiltskin, Liesl Shurtliff


Crazy Mac Barnett (and Twitter friend, Jamie Palmer)



And… Book Whisperer author, the lovely Donalyn Miller. But, sadly I have crazy fan eyes in that picture, and I can’t post it.

Incidently, a friend of mine was poking fun of my photos on Facebook, saying I looked so excited…like I was meeting movie stars. Well, umm…yes. Actually, much better. And, I’m pretty sure that Tom Cruise could have walked into the exhibit hall, and NO ONE would have moved an inch from their spot in line to meet Jackie Woodson. That’s just how we book nerds roll.

Speaking of book nerds, it was so fun to see lots of Nerdy Book Club members over the weekend.  More than anything, it was surreal to pass all the faces of people I “know” from Twitter in the hallway.  Everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming, and it didn’t matter that we hadn’t met before, because our love of books, and teaching, and students provided all the common ground we needed to jump into conversation after conversation.

Ok, so, there is no way that I can post about every session and every bit of genius that came from all of the presenters this weekend.  I’m thinking one sentence summaries for just a few of my workshops, but many many future posts are brewing as I reflect on NCTE 14.

Revising the Story: Reluctant Readers Overcoming Shame

Teachers: our words and actions have unbelievable power in the stories of our students’ lives.

Thanks to Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Liesl Shurtliff for sharing their stories of shame and the teachers who gave them hope. 

The Nerdy Book Club: Shaping Reading Identity through Community, Story, and Choice

Had to go. They were preaching to the choir here. Nerdies unite. Awesome Sauce.

(PS: Jonathan Auxier is TALL)

It’s Not Just for the Kids: Stories of What Can Happen When Teachers Embrace Curiousity, Openess, Creativity, and Wonder in the Teaching of Reading

Vicki Vinton chaired a wonderful panel of educators who shared some of their journeys as educators. I have to say more than one sentence here. I was happy I got to see this session, because a Twitter friend of mine, Julieanne Harmatz was part of the panel. She shared her ongoing wondering about the role of read aloud with her students. I always feel like she and I are following the same threads in our classrooms, and read aloud is something that I have been devoting a lot of thought to as well.  I love that she has devoted so much time to interviewing her students on the subject, which will really ground her teaching decisions in authentic student data.

Stories of Reading: Rethinking Instruction in a Digital Age

As teachers, we need to understand what it means to be a reader in today’s digital world, and then teach into that reality, helping our students encounter, evaluate, and engage with success.

Apps I’m looking into this month:

Pixie, Flipboard, and Pocket

Engagement: Taking an Active Stance with Informational Text

“Engagement: The need to know is so deep, they can’t help themselves.”  ~ Ellin Keene (Please rush to her next workshop)

Book I now need to read:


Minds Made for Stories by Tom Newkirk


So many more great sessions with smart, smart people.

Oh, and, this kind of happened along the way…


What? You still want to see my Donalyn Miller picture? Really? Ok, well… who doesn’t have crazy fan eyes when they meet Donalyn for the first time?


And really, she had the perfect words to sum it all up with this tweet:

Thanks NCTE 14 for an unforgettable experience!



Filed under Uncategorized

Follow that Blog!


When I joined Twitter last year, my eyes were immediately opened to the world of educational blogging. While staring at my daily news feed, I felt overwhelmed with the possibilities of so many promising blogs to read and follow. One year later,  I have some carefully selected favorites that usually speak to my specific needs as an educator.  And although I try to read at least one or two new blogs each day, I always save time for the ones that have proven purposeful and meaningful again and again.

Over the next few months (or maybe longer), I’d like to highlight some of the blogs that I follow in a series of posts entitled Follow that Blog! One of the most frequently occuring responses that I hear when I invite someone to join Twitter or become part of the educational blogging community is, “I wouldn’t know where to start.” So, start here. Often one blog will lead you to another and another. If the first one isn’t right for you, chances are you will quickly find one that is.

In this series, I will mostly feature blogs that are whole heartedly embraced by the community of connected educators that I am fortunate to call my personal learning network. I hope that in reading these posts, you will connect with at least one educator who is writing what you need to read.  This community is far reaching, evidence that educators truly desire and need to be connected, as the same will be expected of our students.




The first blog I would like to feature is practical, purposeful, and powerful. Assessment in Perspective is the official website of Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan.   Tammy and Clare are staff developers who offer professional development services for many schools and districts under the name Teachers for Teachers.  They are also frequent contributors for Choice Literacy.  Their blog: Perspectives, is just one resource for educators that you will find when you visit their site.

clare and tammy

Tammy and Clare post frequently.  As a teacher and a mom of three active children who is short on time, I appreciate that their posts are brief, but full of important and actionable ideas that challenge me to clarify my thoughts as an educator.  They also often highlight current books that they are enjoying or seeing work well in the classroom environment.

When I contacted them for this post, they graciously answered a few questions about their blog and professional development.

As you write each post for your blog, what purpose do you have in mind? What topics do you tend to write about most frequently?

“Our purpose is to communicate with the teachers, coaches and administrators we collaborate with each year.  We don’t get to see them every day or even every week, so we hope our blog keeps our dialogue going between our sessions.

Our posts do not all fall into one category.  We tend to write about assessment, best practices, coaching, change process, and elementary literacy.  We always try to think about multiple perspectives when we write our posts.  The key to professional collaboration and learning for us is understanding the point of view of our students and colleagues.  We hope our posts inspire dialogue, new ideas, and reflection.”

How has blogging and being apart of the online educational community improved your own craft and professional life?

Teaching is a learning profession.  We believe we need to model inquiry and the power of learning for our students.  Blogging and social media is a new professional learning modality for us.  We just joined this community in July of 2013.  We cannot believe how much we have learned and the quality of professional resources on the internet.  We feel more connected nationally than we ever have before.  We have met new professional contacts and participated in many opportunities for shared learning through the edublogging community.”

What advice can you offer teachers who feel like they don’t have enough time to create and pursue professional development on their own?

“There is never enough time, but how we choose to use the time we have is up to us.  We have found that setting professional learning goals for ourselves is helpful.  We create new goals each year and this helps us stay focused and not feel overwhelmed.  It is important to set real but achievable goals and set an action plan for meeting these goals.  We believe having a personal learning network is essential.  We collaborate, reflect and plan with each other all the time.  When we are working with others who have the same goals it is motivates us to find the time.”


Clare and Tammy have definitely inspired dialogue, new ideas, and reflection in my professional life.  I hope that you will follow their work and be inspired as well.

You can follow them on Twitter @TeachersforTeachers

Note: After entering your email address to follow a blog, you will usually need to open and follow directions given in a confirmation email. Until you confirm, you will not receive updates on new posts.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Intersection of Teacher Effectiveness and Twitter

twitter hashtags

I’m sure that there are a thousand blogs out there about the topic of this post. But, maybe you haven’t read any of them, because you aren’t on Twitter.  Twitter? Isn’t that for crazed Justin Bieber fans? Isn’t that for narcissistic jerks who think that everyone can’t wait to hear how they had to stand in a really long line at Hermes or got skim milk instead of soy in their Starbucks (as IF!)?

Until I joined Twitter, I didn’t see a reason for it. Very few of my friends were on it. I didn’t really care to know what Charlie Sheen was ranting about every day, and I didn’t even know what I would do if I was on it.  What would I tweet to strangers? Who would even listen? It was a nationwide phenomenon that didn’t interest me in the slightest.

Then, two years ago, I was sitting in a Chris Lehman workshop about DOK, and he quickly remarked how Twitter was the best professional development out there. I watched as most other educators in the room knowingly nodded their heads in agreement.  I wasn’t totally sold. My teaching is going to be revolutionized by 140 characters or less? Probably not. Still, I’m a good student, and I usually do what I’m told, so I went home and set up an account. It was slow going at first. My account sat for a least six months without me accessing it even once. It wasn’t until another workshop, when TCRWP developer Maggie Roberts talked it up, that I decided to really give it a try. Once I got started, I was hooked. One tweet would lead me to a great blog post which would lead me to another great post to another article to another and another….and on and on. I didn’t have to go sit in a workshop to hear about best practices. Best practices were being tweeted minute by minute, and I was at my leisure to read the new information whenever I had the time.

What do I get from signing on to Twitter for a few minutes each day?  

Book Lists for Children~ What are the best new books out there? How can I use these books to enhance my teaching? What books should I be putting in the hands of students?

Professional Books~ What are the newest books that other educators are reading to enhance their practice? Heinemann? Stenhouse? Follow them all!

Workshops~ What are the must-go-to workshops and seminars in my area?

Blog Posts~Amazing educators sharing what is happening in their classrooms. Win Win.

CCSS~ How are other teachers implementing CCSS with success? What are the flaws? How are states embracing or pushing back against CCSS?

National Initiatives~ Hour of Code, The Global Read Aloud, World Read Aloud Day to name a few

Twitter has also renewed my sense of connectedness with educators across the country. After years of teaching, it is all too easy to focus on what’s in front of us: new district initiatives, new curriculum, new teacher evaluation equations. Data collecting, paper grading, rubrics, and parent-call logs can all make this incredible thing we do every day feel very much like a job.  And I was really gritting my teeth and trying to make it through work every day.  Twitter honestly changed that for me.  Being a part of a national conversation reminds me that we ARE a part of something important; more important than just our classroom or our school building.  I’m pretty sure it will change something for you too.  Mostly I just listen. But once in a while, I might have something to add.  You will too.


Getting Started:

1. Set up an account. Be sure that you include some information on your profile that lets others know that you are an educator.  This will let people know why you might be following them, and then they might follow you as well.

2. Follow, follow, follow!  It might be hard to know who to follow at first.  There are certain people who really seem to lead the conversation such as Chris Lehman, Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson. Once you follow them, you can see who they follow, and well…you get the idea.  The more people you follow, the more tweets and blog posts will show up in your news feed.  If you follow me on Twitter @jenbrittin (visit sidebar of site), you will see who I follow. Anyone who works at TCRWP is a good start.

3. Listen in and join Twitter chats about education. TCRWP developers lead Twitter chats weekly. They are focused on a specific topic with specific questions being asked and answered by those involved in the chat. I was very intimidated by these at first. It’s hard to be brilliant in 140 characters.

4. Use hashtags. Hashtags will keep your tweets about a particular topic all in one place with everyone else’s tweets about that topic. Some popular education hashtags are #edchat, #engchat, #nerdlution, #nerdybookclub and #TCRWP. You’ll get the hang of hashtags immediately.

5. Actually sign on and use Twitter. Even if it is for ten minutes a day. It keeps you connected.  It keeps you sane when the 12o essays waiting to be graded are making you insane. It gives you a fresh perspective when you are up to your eyeballs in lesson planning.

Twitter is a fantastic way for all of us at W.E.S. and E.C.E.C. to stay connected too. Join the conversation!

~J Brittin



Filed under Uncategorized