Celebrate: 140 Characters

celebrate link up Thank you Ruth Aryes for starting this weekly link up to celebrate our week. Read more celebrations here.

This week’s celebrations are all due to 140 characters. What it means to be “connected” through the virtual world of Twitter often connects in very tangible ways. This week I’m celebrating a lot of face-to-face work that was an outgrowth of Twitter. The richness of this work makes us better educators and better people.

One: My colleagues Dayna Wells @daywells and Cathy Skubik @cskubik became full fledged participants in the #TCRWP chat. They have been lurking around Twitter for a while, even tweeting on occasion, but neither had really participated in a chat. This week I tweeted alongside them; just offering a few explanations and a little encouragement. I’m sure I helped a little, but what really got both of them going was the welcoming conversation they joined. The #TCRWP tweeps took them in responding, favoriting, and retweeting. I was struck by this. It is not hyperbole when I say that I love that Wednesday chat.  I celebrate the wonderful educators who moderate the chats weekly and those that show up and offer up so much every week!  The after effects of the chats are quite stunning.


Two. This week, leaders from the Right Question Institute @RQI presented their work to teacher leaders in my district. The wonderful Dan Rothstein and Lavada Berger @LavadRQI had us work through the process of teaching students to question. This paradigm shift is powerful. Getting students to create questions around a focused topic puts power in the their hands and allows them to direct their own learning. While this is the beginning of this work in our district, it started because of a tweet. That tweet referenced this post,. Soon that book found its way around my school. The ideas filtered into our classrooms and then out into the district. That one tweet was the shirtless guy in the “one nut” video. I’m proud to say our school was the first follower.


Three: Speaking of followers, I have to celebrate my 1,000th follower. WHOO HOO!

Which really leads me to why Victoria followed me. See 4 a and 4 b.

Four (a)  Tuesday through Thursday I attended my first CUERockstar Conference. I signed up to learn more about digital literacy, but what I got was so much more. When you are surrounded by passion, respect and possibility, learning is  exhilarating. These fabulous teachers who led the sessions were committed to the participants; they met our needs, listened intently, and encouraged our work. Just being a learner with these folks was a gift. What follows are a few highlights.

I was introduced to  Storybird  in Moss Pike’s @MossPike session on day two of the conference. Storybird is a free web-based tool that presents a beautiful gallery of pictures for storytelling. As the websites states, “Storybird reverses visual storytelling by starting with the image and ‘unlocking’ the story inside.”

I love this idea of “unlocking” a story. As I created my book, I thought about story structure, the real struggle for the characters; which led to understanding the characters. The expressions on the character’s faces gave me clues to their emotions and where the story might go.  This experience was unlike any writing experience I have had before. I had an idea of where the story might go, but I wasn’t exactly sure. The characters took over the story. This experience makes me wonder about the power of visuals and the ability to visualize when we tell story. 

Four (b)  In another session we worked on Design Thinking for Educators.based on work from The Center for Deep Thinking in Mount Vernon. We chose a “sticky problem,” a problem that has many points where you could get “stuck,” and worked through the process that embraces problem solving through empathy and visual thinking. I worked with Filisa Iskason @fiskason and Karen Lagola @kklagola on the problem of not enough time for students and professional development. As we talked, jotted and then asked ourselves, “how might we” approach these issues. One idea that stayed with me was to focus on creating “rich time” avoiding experiences  that create an attitude of just “passing time” for our students and our colleagues.

2014-07-31 11.24.48


Five: In response to Carol Varsalona’s  @cvarsalona call for photos and poems that fit the more relaxed mood of summer. I tweeted her a picture I took at sunset as well as a found poem. Within minutes, Carol Direct Messaged me. As the summer is not over yet check out Carole’s Summertime Serenity link up here.




And all of this because of this:


9 thoughts on “Celebrate: 140 Characters

  1. So many things to reply to, Julieanne. What a week it has been for you! Love all the ideas, love hearing about your Storybird experience-it’s a great app, & seeing your notebook & terms ‘rich time’ and/or ‘passing time’. Something important is there I think. As for the questioning, keep on. It’s exactly what our school bases most everything on, student questioning, from 5 to 14 years. It works! Glad to hear your twitter fun!

  2. Julieanne,
    Your passion and willingness to learn are evident in every single line of your blog and your entire thinking process. I feel so fortunate to have you as a member of my PLN because you, too, are the epitome of encouragement and support!

  3. Wow! What great celebrations. I am an on-again, off-again Twitter user. I love your enthusiasm and am glad you shared all the wonderful things that happened because of your connections via Twitter. It gives me inspiration to jump in again. 🙂

  4. Julianne, what a rich post – so many places to jump in, or off. I love the shirtless guy video – inspirational; and spent a lot of time exploring the RQI. There’s a lot of richness to be gleaned there as well. The importance of asking questions cannot be overstated. I think it’s so sad that children are born asking questions but so quickly, in school, learn to not ask. I am excited to hear of the work of teachers in encouraging children to ask their own questions. A simple idea that makes so much sense! I am not aware of the #TCRWP chat on Wednesday evenings. I’ll have to try to check it out and see what’s going on. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to come back again – there’s more to explore! 🙂

  5. “When you are surrounded by passion, respect and possibility, learning is exhilarating.” – I love this sentence. You are a true twitter person. You understand how it works and use it effectively for learning and connecting.

  6. Amazing how this is so connected to twitter but how much bigger the connections, the learning and the thinking have become as a result. I really enjoyed all that was in this post!

  7. Julieanne, I was passing by Ruth’s blog site and was delighted to find a post by you. As I was reading I was nodding yes to TCRWP (I enjoy that chat group) and have been a participant at Saturday Reunions for a very long time and Storybird (amazing platform for storytelling that I have used with ESL students). I noted your piece on questioning, a topic that I am exploring with teachers this fall and then was totally amazed that you spoke about REFLECT WITH ME. What a privilege it is to have met you on Twitter and now consider you a colleague.

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