Writing and Tweeting

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Someone I talked to recently said that they believed social media is a “career killer.” They are afraid of it ruining their professional life. Although I can’t argue with the fact that people have lost jobs over MIS-use of social media, I couldn’t disagree more with this statement for me.

I have been on Twitter since 2009–to be honest, I signed up to get updates on the NFL draft during my husband’s cousin’s wedding. What can I say, the Lions had the #1 pick that year. It was too important to miss! Since then, my Twitter account has been a source of professional inspiration for me. In the last few DAYS alone, I have made connections with people I never would have otherwise. These people have become writing collaborators, helped me with my research, and opened up doors for other opportunities to serve my community. And these are people from all over the country, ensuring that I get to hear from people that don’t share my same viewpoint or life perspective. And I LOVE this. It’s also nice to whine to people from the south about the insane amount of snow we’ve been getting in Michigan, since I get true pity from them. (Probably a foot just this morning. Thanks Detroit!)

As it always does, my inspirations turn into writing. My writing goals for March are mostly about learning more about how teachers use social media to network. I am so intrigued by this idea of networking and community among educators on social media. I started a book called “Net Smart” by Howard Rheingold. I skipped right to the chapter on networking and he described how people in these social media communities like the NerdyBookClub or #sschat help each other out of a sense of duty. They help complete strangers because they know complete strangers will help and have helped them. It’s like the ultimate pay it forward. In a world where the voice of the teacher is being silenced and teachers are being compared and in some cases pitted against each other like competitors, finding spaces where the opposite is happening is amazing. I want to know more, and write more, about this space.

So…the writing goals for March. (I am hoping to blog about more than writing goals and more than once a month, but for now…)

Grant Proposal for Research Study on NerdCamp

I am attending NerdCamp this summer, another brain-child of a Twitter community. I wrote a little bit about my study in the hopes that I can get some funding to interview a lot of social media-using teachers there.

Book Review

I’ve been asked to write a book review for a book about integrating social studies instruction with other subjects. Something I know a bit about! The book review genre is a bit challenging, but I am excited to take it on for an online publication.

CUFA Proposals

I am just finishing up my proposals for the NCSS research conference in November. I am working on two proposals with a lot of collaborators. One of the proposals is on the affordances and challenges of using social media with students in social studies classes. It should be no surprise that I connected with collaborators for this proposal on Twitter! I have never met them in person or “IRL” if you will.

I am also getting ready to present about another research study I did on students’ Twitter use in one of my classes at AERA in Philadelphia. My adventures in Philly are sure to fill another blog post not about writing goals.

Writing Ruts

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My goals for January writing and #nerdlution were very ambitious, I know. I actually made pretty good progress. But then I decided to get to one particular journal article and I got stuck.

I often get into these writing ruts–I’ll work on a piece for a long time and get excited about it, then get to a place where I am out of ideas. I put it away with the intention of getting back to it sooner than later, but it always ends up being later. Now, here I am, knowing that I need to pick it up again and I am dreading it. I am dreading it mostly because I still don’t have any ideas about how to fix it. I know that the best way to write myself out of a hard place is to just write, but my brain is pushing back on this. How much do I listen to my head, and when do I push through?

Here are my writing goals for February:

1. Finish that lingering piece. It’s about economics instruction in the elementary grades and using the inquiry arc/approach to do this. I am stuck, but my first Feb goal is to get unstuck.

2. Finish that civic engagement piece from January. This one should be easier to write, since I have already written chunks of it and outlined the order for these chunks. Now I just need to put them in place and polish them up.

3. CUFA proposals. The annual conference for NCSS is in Boston this fall, and I have three ideas for proposals for CUFA, the research part of the conference. I am excited because these pieces are collaborations and I love writing with other people. However, these can sometimes take longer because they involve talking with other people, and usually I conceptualize writing in the car or the shower–hardly the best places for collaboration.

I’m keeping my goals to three this month (but really #3 is 3 pieces in and of itself, but whatever). Let’s hope I get out of my rut and get back in the groove.

Writing Goals for January


Happy new year!

A year ago this week, I declared 2013 to be the official “Year of Writing.” True, I wrote a very important piece last year that took up an amazing amount of my time, but I have since decided to dub every year of my life the “year of writing.” I would like to spend my time in 2014 writing more and different pieces, as opposed to only one the entire year.

To celebrate what hopefully will be quantity and quality, I am going to post my writing goals every month. These will be pieces that I hope to write this month. Hopefully the blog will keep me accountable. I am going to try to make January pretty prolific , so we’ll see how that goes. Here’s what I hope to accomplish in the first month of 2014:

An Article About Teaching Human Rights

The teacher I worked with in my dissertation study taught a thematic unit called “Human Rights.” I really want to use my observation data from my time with her in this unit and write a piece about what it looks like to teach about human rights in elementary grades. I need to read more to write this article, for sure since it wasn’t a focus of my actual dissertation study.

An Article About Civic Engagement Among 5th Graders

A main finding in my dissertation was about how teaching a project-based service learning unit helped develop 5th grade students’ civic engagement. I have a LOT of data for this, and even some text drafted. So this will take some time for me to cut & polish & add.

Plan an Article About Using Read-Alouds in Social Studies

One of my favorite professional experiences of 2013 was presenting at the National Council for Social Studies with my colleague, Stephanie. Our research interests about using literature in content areas are pretty similar, so we put together a poster presentation. I had so much fun talking one-on-one with teachers (as opposed to the stand-and-deliver type of presentation) about their interest in reading more about this. At the end of the allotted time, we just looked at each other and thought– we have to write about this more! Hoping to make this thought a reality.

Revise Two Pieces I’ve Already Drafted

I have an article coming out in the fall of 2014 that needs a few tweaks. I also wrote another article that needs a lot of tweaks before I submit it for publication.


Of course, I want to write more about writing. I am teaching a writing methods course starting Monday, so I know I’ll have lots to share from my students and my own experiences teaching writing. I can’t wait.

Let’s hope 2014 is productive!

Starting a #nerdlution

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I have been struggling to get into a groove of my new space– my literal new living space, my work space, my geographical space, and my head space. Being a professor now and free of the dissertation has been very liberating, actually. I had a fear that I would never have another idea again after spending so long with the dissertation, but luckily the opposite has been true. Ideas about writing projects have been coming fast and furious and I haven’t been able to lock them down into actual words.

One lazy Sunday morning reading Twitter in bed, I started reading tweets about the #nerdlution hashtag from the @nerdybookclub group. By the time I had made breakfast, I had committed to my #nerdlution– setting a goal to do every day for 50 days from Dec 2- Jan 20. To me, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back in the game–by forming a habit. Like many others, I chose to write every day for 50 days. This is a combination of a resolution and a revolution– the #nerdlution.

I have been tweeting my progress (@AnnieWhitlock) and I have been amazed at what I have accomplished so far. Since Dec 2, I have written and submitted one journal manuscript, outlined another one, and revised a long dormant one. I have finished two syllabi for next semester. I revamped this blog and wrote an upcoming blog post for the Nerdy Book Club blog.  I have also been reading about writing, which is only helping put me in the right/write frame of mind. I am on a roll and momentum is building!

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