Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘PD’

Does Twitter Help Teachers LEARN, GROW & “Get Off The Planet Faster”… (Pt 03 of 03)

In Teacher Learning, Technology on 24/09/2013 at 4:00 pm

Twitter Blog Post 13 (Who are the Twitterati)


Some of you probably thought my use of the term Twitterati in that last post was a bit “cruel”.

I have to admit, it’s true that some definitions, like those at the Urban Dictionary – the ones I just pointed you to towards, look as if they could have been written by teenage geeks that secretly want to join the gang of “cool kids” at their High School (or were simply written by homophobes, perhaps).

There are no real secrets surrounding the Twitterati in any field/sector or interest area – they are dead easy to spot.

Twitter Blog Post 15 (The REAL Twitterati)

BTW – I hate the term “follower” with a passion…just so you know!


Yes, some tweeps might prize their status in an “elite crowd”, they might have an ego bigger than a bus, and…they might even shed a tear when so-and-so manages to gather more “followers” than those in their own Twibe (go on – you know what this is).

It doesn’t matter really – in EDUcation, I define Twitterati as those who use Twitteractively (or like me, over-actively) – regardless of the motivations for doing so.

The “elite” side of things is still there – this crops up because, as Tom Whitby has pointed out (in the case of the USA), there are so bloody few of us!

Now, you see why I asked the question I asked…

Twitter Blog Post 11 (Twitterati mutual masterbation)

…not just because I am a High School “mean girl”!


Is it only me that finds it ironic that so many of us promote the use of Twitter…to the so-called “unconnected” or “semi-connected”by posting on Twitter?

But, then again – how do we reach them?



Tom has calculated (or made a “calculated guess”) that there are only 200 to 300,000 “connected” educators in the US (the ones that would probably have a Twitter account and do loads more on-line stuff). This is from a total population of between 7.2m to 11m EDUcators…across the USA – that’s around 4% or 1.8%, if we use the extremes (read his post to find out why no one “knows” how many American teachers there are).

OMG! That ain’t a lot…ain’t many at all!


Tom’s post also got me thunking – about how popular EDUtweeting actually is.

Taking my lead from him, I randomly selected 8 of my favourite EDUthunkers (and authors) and also 8 of my favourite “connected” EDUcators (people who have a decent digital presence and leave enough footprints to inspire me…and help me LEARN). In truth, there’s a bit of overlap between the two groups – but let’s not quibble.

As these people mean so much to me in my “second life”, I wondered how many other people might feel the same. Yeah, I had to use “followers”sorry!


Here’s what I came up with:

Twitter Blog Post 14 (Tonys Tweet Roll)

Kinda frackin’ drops off after “Sir Ken”, don’t it? 


But, take a closer look…and then…compare those numbers with Justin Beiber or Paris Hilton (above)!

Sorry (bw)


Lady Gaga puts on a good show…I like the way she pushes the envelope in dancelove her views on “tolerance”! BUT, come on – how can she have 40,167,626 more followers….than Howard Gardner?

The man is an eduGOD!

BUT, then again…look at HIS followers.

Even our dear own RTE has more followers than the big, bearded guy in the sky!


If these numbers are some / any kind of indication of the amount of thunking we are doing (across the planet…yes, the whole bloody world! ) with regards EDUcation, TEACHing and LEARNing….

…we are sooooooooooo screwed!


When we think about Tom’s numbers…on connected TEACHers, the same type of worry starts to get to me. Of course, many of these non-TWEACHers (yep, you got it!), could be doing loads of other great professional development stuff (reading those “book-thingies” or doin’ some of that there book LEARNin’, for example) – we just don’t know

In fact, no-one knows for sure how many TEACHers are actually on Twitterespecially…in…

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)


I tried to find out…let it never be said that I do not go that extra mile for you all…and got a high-priority, emergency tweet to Dick Costolo (CEO of Twitter) asking him a (very polite) question…

Twitter Blog Post 10 (Tweet for Dick)

 …the buggar ignored me!

Does he not know who “I” am? At all?


Actually, way before this…I did do a bit more hard-nosed research.

Just before Summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to be a co-presenter at a series of technologically-themed professional development seminars. These were held over 3 glorious weekends (on the Island of Cyprusthe Northern bit!) and, in total, around 375-400 teachers (from around canım Türkiyem) participated in these 2-day events (and did a lot of dancing, too…a lot)!

As part of my sessions, I did a few quick straw-pollsyou know:

A.   How many of you have a Twitter account?
B.   How many of you use Twitter to develop yourself professionally?
C.    How many of you use Twitter with your students (as part of their learning opportunities)?


The responses:

Twitter Blog Post 16 (My data)

Didn’t fill me with confidence!


But, at least…a lot of people who came over to the Island (in Summer) said they would give it a try – many have tweeted me (yeah!)…lots have “friended” me on Facebook (I share a lot there, too).

This is how we reach our semi-connected or unconnected TEACHers…on Cyprus, in the Summer, while dancing!


We collaborate (face-to-face),

connect (face-to-face) and

care (face-to-face)…too!


I’m gonna need a “Postscript”

– ain’t I?


NOTE from the CBO:

If you are interested in following some great EDUcators and TEACHers on Twitter, why not take a look at some of these lists:


And, give these ones a quick gander, too:


I’ll be honest, I do not follow all of them – and there’s a couple of them in there that I wouldn’t be seen dead tweeting (or twerking) withthe choice is all yours!

Twitter Blog Post 03 (21C Culture 3C ver)


P.S: If you have found these last posts useful, why not print them out…”adopt” a non-TWEACHer…take him for coffee and “walk” him through the Twitter process (tell him about your experiences, show him your account & favourite tweets (& tweeps), let him ask his own questions…play around together!)  😉 



Does Twitter Help Teachers LEARN, GROW & “Get Off The Planet Faster”… (Pt 02 of 03)

In Teacher Learning, Technology on 23/09/2013 at 11:36 am

Now, I know that some of you might have thunked that those questions were a bit “silly“…certainly not the stuff of a serious scientific inquiry into TEACHer LEARNing.

Especially, that last one…Number 04.

I’ll come back to that later, promise!


The thing is, you see, we need to remember that:

Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03


Question number 01 was prompted by a recent report (sent to me as a Twitter “attachment” no less) – a report that tells us that Twitter is actually making today’s kids (our “dumbest generation” ever, many have suggested – people like Miley Cyrus as you might have seen in the first part of this series) …“smarter”.

Yes, I said “smarter”!


This report is based on the work of Andrea Lunsford (a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University) – and she suggests that the increase in writing (in terms of both quality and quantity) that her research has uncovered is down to the fact that students are doing more “life writing” (the social, fun variety that blogs and social media sites, like Twitter, encourage).

Now, there might be some academics out there that want to tear down Andrea (you go girl!) – but her work is adding weight to similar, earlier work. The work of Gary Small – work that has been picked up and made more “digestible” by guys like David Weinberger (yes, you can “click” on these little red links…and crawl further down the rabbit-hole)…

…as well as a few of my favourite (paper-based) BEDtime READing over the past few years (you HAVE TO read these books):


The bottom line is that there is now a tidal wave of thunking (and research) that is showing us that TECHnology (and Twitter) is helping kids and young adultsLEARN faster – and, inşallahbetter.


I guess the question I was really toying with is…

Twitter Blog Post 09 (Is it the same TEACHers)


There’s certainly a great deal of interest in helping TEACHers get better at “doing” Twitter – more tips and hints than you could shake a stick at:


Then, TEACHers can go “PRO” – with Social Media (non-TEACHing, yani) Gurus:


Blogger (still ignore you)


Some of my favourite ELT bloggers have done some excellent posts on the benefits of Twitter for teachersVicky Loras did a great post in her recent “PD in Focus” series. 

However, it does not stop there – Primary Teachers, like Karen Lirenman, have done the same in posts likeUsing Twitter in a Primary Classroom 

Work in the College or H.Ed arenaNo worries – try Suzanne Holloway’sUsing Twitter in the College Classroom“. 


The SECRET (Expletive)


We even have stuff for kindergarten TEACHers


All great stuffGR8 stuff!


…and some of you (them…) are gonna “hate” me for this!


Remember what I was saying about the type of 21st Century LEARNing Culture…you know, the one we all need to “live within” to LEARN, GROW…and get off the planet (as quickly as we can):

Twitter Blog Post 03 (21C Culture 3C ver)

It’s a bit more than “pretty graphic” – designed for a pain-in-the-ass friend of mine!


There’s certainly a lot of LEARNing to be had from these tweets and posts!

The other question here (of course), to borrow Tom Whitby’s lovely turn of phrase

Twitter Blog Post 11 (Twitterati mutual masterbation)

Yani, how many semi-connected or unconnected TEACHers “read” this stuff?


…and then, we have the matter of my second question:

Twitter Blog Post 12 (FQ #02)


Does Twitter Help Teachers LEARN, GROW & “Get Off The Planet Faster”… (Pt 01 of 03)

In Teacher Learning, Technology on 23/09/2013 at 5:56 am

Twitter Blog Post 01

A few days back, I re-introduced my “model” of what 21st Century LEARNing Culture might…should look like.

You know, the type of organisational or institutional climate that might…could create the working / learning environments that would allow us all to be the best possible versions of ourselves.

I did the original version around 30 months ago but decided it needed an upgrade…


I was well-proud of myself…these things take ages to create!

Twitter Blog Post 02 (21C Culture ver 03)

…that was till a dear friend of mine got me some “feedback”!


Feedback via Twitter (in three or four DMs, of course)!


The feedback went something like this:

“I love the way you put your rose-coloured glasses on when you do posts”


(I knew what was coming)

“…there are just too many ideas there…too many thunks, as you would say – couldn’t you just give us a simple version…a snappier version that we could all remember”!


He had a point (buggar) and I had a go:

Twitter Blog Post 03 (21C Culture 3C ver)

Not too shabby…if I say so meself!


Snappy, sexy…and…grounded on the communicative power of the number “3”.

A politician’s wet dream…


Then, I smelled the coffee!


Why was I doing this?

Why was I “dumbing” down what I believe in – for an “audience”…of one?

Why was I aggreeing with someone that it is OK to drag our thunking down to the lowest common denomitator…or wordbite?

WHY (joker Face)


Because, sadly, we live in a world that has become addicted to “solving” its problems in one of four ways:

Twitter Blog Post 04 (the Twitter EGGS)

Sometimes all four at once!


…and the little Twitter bird tells us this is OK.


Not just “OK” but a prerequisite…if you want to be “liked” or “followed”…


Time for a RANT

Oh, deary-me…me-oh-my

is Tony getting ready for a rant, acaba?


Nooooooo – when have you ever heard me “rant”?

This post has been in the pipeline for a while – I wanted to look at how we (as TEACHers) are using Twitter to help us LEARNADAPT to the rapidly changing eco-systems that we live in…and use the tools that these systems are giving us.

Oh, yes….and share a few useful links!

The rant (that never was) was an after-thunk…I might come back to it later.


Twitter (bird announce)

Those of you that know me and connect over twitter, know that I share….big time! Twitter has become my main vehicle for sharing things I stumble across…I am interested in…I am sent.


I read a LOT.


I signed up for Twitter in February 2011like most men, I was a late developer.

I wanted to use my Twitter account to share good stuff on LEARNing, EDUcation and TRAINing – and 99.99% of my tweets are about these things (the rest are about my dog….Dexter and my favourite “guilty pleasure”….Dexter)!

Since that time, I have clocked up around 11,400 tweets95% of which carry a bit of “bedtime reading” – a link to a blog post, an article or report, or an infographic….even a video or podcast (from time to time).

Twitter Blog Post 05 (Tonys stats)


HELLO! My name’s Tony and I’m a tweep!

HELLO, Tony!

Well, I haven’t tweeted for 2 hours, 37 minutes and…

DAMN! …fell off the wagon, again!’


That’s around 1.6m characters (each tweet allows you 140 of those) I have thrown into the tweetiverse (you can guess this word, yes? I’ll be doing this a lot in this mini-series).

Trust me – I am not the “worst”…there are many other tweeps out there far worse than I (and not just Miley Cyrus…and all the parental tweeps she upset recently with her “twerkingnot tweeting)!


BUT, and…as I saidI read a LOT!

Because of my love of “BEDtime READing” and my talent for wishing to inflict it on others – that means that there are, approximately, another 11 to 13 million words I have communicated to my other tweeps…through the tweets I have sent over the past 30 months!

Twitter Blog Post 08 (Total Novels)


Now, on the whole – my bouts of tweetery have been greeted “warmly“. Many of them are RT’ed (retweeted)…a lot of them are “favourited” (I’m guessing to be saved for laters…as we TEACHers are often in a class when the little twitter ringtone kicks in).

Every now and again I get a lovely little tweet or DM (direct message) saying something like:

Twitter Blog Post 06 (Yasemins comment)


Yasemin’s comment, BTW, could be roughly translated as “These links are sick“! (“sick” in teenage-speak, yani…meaning “so cool”)! OK – so she actually said “I am sick about these links of yours”! – but that does not translate as well…

Just so you know!


But, what got me thunking…was whether I had done the LEARNing that 13 million words (of READing) seemed to suggest. Whether my tweeps had also done the same amount of LEARNingor (even) READing…as I had done.

Maybe, they had done even more!

And, perhaps more importantly…how had we used that LEARNing for ourselves – and to add value to our classroom practice and LEARNers.


I realised I needed to do some research….#crowdsourcing even!

Twitter Blog Post 07 (Crowdsourcing FQs)

How would YOU answer these questions?


When Spoon-feeding the “Kids” is NOT Enough… (not a RE-boot)!

In Adult Educators, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, The Paradigm Debate on 09/07/2013 at 11:53 am

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 02


This was a question a very irate TEACHer-cum-PARENT asked me the other week. She was, of course, talking about LEARNing our kids to feed themselves.

“They are turning my kid into a little test-drone” – she told me. Here, she was talking about her child’s school…and, probably, she wasn’t far wrong.


Most of our schools are firmly grounded on 4 ways of “doing business”:

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 03


Yeah…sorry about that – but, if it’s any consolation, that little image up there took me ages to do…guess I was making up for that last, imagesiz blog post I did.


I don’t want to get into all of them – one-by-one – and, besides, most of you know what I thunks:

LEARNing (cannot be delivered) Ver 02


You also know…in your heart-of-hearts that:

High Grades and LEARNers (Wiggins quote)


I do not really care how many practice books, online resources, mock tests, or so-called “extra-curriculuar” tutoring sessions a school offers its kids…if these materials or opportunities are of the just-in-case, EXAMocracy type (rather than the just-in-time, LEARNing type) – the result is the same.

Pigeon holes (even of the “multiple intelligence variety”) are too small for our kids!

Hey, I did manage to cover them all!


Twilight Zone 01b (TG edit).jpg

However, the story did not stop there.

I got a call from one of the “team” at the school (where my friend sends her kid) – quite by co-incidence.

They wanted me to to come to their school at the end of August and…wait for it…. “deliver a lecture” to their TEACHers…a 60-minute lecture, no less / no more (because, I was told, TEACHers cannot focus for more than 50-60 minutes) on….wait for it… “creativity with the new textbooks they have adopted” .

Do they not know me…at all?


HULK (keep calm TG Ver)


To add insult to injury…they also asked me if I knew any other native-speakers that would be prepared to come a give a 60-minute session on…and this was the killer… “any topic they wanted!


The SECRET (Expletive)


Now, I’m not going to get into the whole “NS vs. NNS TEACHer thingy” (though I would really love toI would)! But, it’s worth exploring some of the the other underlying assumptions…behind this seemingly simple request.


There are many schools (and universities, too) out there that are basically looking for a way to “fill up” the Summer schedules of their TEACHers…called back to work far too early…when nothing of much value has been planned.

Now, I’m not saying this is the case here…Vallahi Billahi…(yep, Google Translate still sucks!) – but the request “smelled” of something…something very fishy!

Balik bastan kokar (TR ver)


Why would a school want to invite a speaker or trainer to “do” a session on “anything they wanted” ?

Thunk about that for a minute…


Even worse…why (oh, bloody why) would they want someone to come and deliver a lecture on a topic area or theme that is clearly so grounded on critical thunking, classroom practice and collaborative co-creation?

We’re talking about “creativity“, guys – not exam prep classes!

Duh (TG ver 4 blog)


Now, call me old-fashioneddoesn’t happen very often…but I’m OK with it.

I’ve always believed that:


The ART of TEACHing (van Doren quote) Ver 02


…it just makes sense that TEACHer LEARNing (TRAINing, even – though I do prefer my other term), should follow the same principle…similar processes.

You know, all that stuff about “walking-our-talk” and “being the change we want to see in the classroom” –

posing and answering questions together,

working stuff out together,

solving real problemsTOGETHER!


Motivation (the CHALLENGE)


But, then again, maybe some schools just feel it’s easier to “manage” their TEACHers…when they manage their “diet”, too!


Feeding our TEACHers is important…


The problem is, however, that wonderful advice that Neila Hocam (yes, click on that link – it is a “real” book) gives us:


If you dont feed the TEACHers (Connors quote) Ver 02


…is also dependent on the “type of food” we make available to our TEACHers!