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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.

The Literacy Clique

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Grad school sometimes is about labels. I was often told I had to define myself as either a “quantitative” or “qualitative” researcher, someone who wants to work “in academia” or in the “K-12 setting”, “secondary” or “elementary.”   Labeling myself has always been difficult. I do mostly qualitative research, but I have done quantitative studies too. I do want a job as a professor preparing teachers, but I worked as a curriculum specialist in the K-12 setting for 3 years as well. And elementary or secondary? I was a middle school teacher, so good luck defining that! I was literally both! Another label people want to give you is by subject area. I guess I would be considered a “social studies person”, since I taught social studies and my dissertation is mostly social studies. However, I will not be getting a PhD in “social studies.” My PhD will be in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education. I have a lot of interests that go beyond social studies.

Most of my time at MSU I have dabbled as a “literacy person.” I have a Masters in Reading, and I am a certified Reading Specialist. Throughout my teaching career I was very focused on improving my students’ content area literacy skills. In fact, I originally came to MSU to study content area literacy with Nell Duke after I had done a quantitative Masters thesis. In the last few years, I have veered more toward the social studies realm, as being a “literacy person” at MSU required a lot more literacy and a lot less social studies. I decided I wanted to be a “social studies person” who dabbles in literacy, as opposed to a “literacy person” that dabbles in social studies. This choice meant that I would not be really known as a “literacy person” among my colleagues. But that doesn’t stop me from horning in on their universe.

I teach a literacy methods course. In this course last year, I introduced my students to Twitter as an attempt to increase their own digital literacy. Twitter itself can be considered a form of literacy; one can be Twitter-literate (or illiterate) as much as someone can be mathematically literate, or develop historical literacy (which I also teach in my SS methods course–see! Both worlds!). I submitted a presentation on this study to the Literacy Research Association as part of a symposium with other MSU “literacy people.” We all traveled San Diego last week and I should off a poster on my Twitter study. Although I was only in San Diego for really one day, and I barely went outside, I did manage to snap this pic:

San Diego

LRA was a great conference that I mostly spent talking to new people– “literacy people”– as opposed to attending sessions. I did see Sam Wineburg speak, who is a “history person!” I felt very welcomed into what I call the Literacy Clique.  I want to explore more in this area, definitely submitting a journal article about my Twitter study. I am also applying for social studies jobs and literacy jobs. I applied for social studies jobs at Hope College, Central Michigan, and Oakland, and literacy jobs at Central Michigan, Grand Valley, Oakland, and UM-Flint. We’ll see how these places label me when and if I get interviews anywhere.

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