My First Chat

Last week I entered into my first chat on Twitter. Here’s how it went. Since I’m teaching Children’s Literature right now to undergraduate future teachers, I wanted to add Twitter as part of our curriculum. I made it optional, but I was pleased that each of them was interested. I was looking for a chat that we might participate in together, so I sent out this tweet hoping to hear from librarians or teachers who were discussing children’s literature.

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Within a few minutes I received a reply from Greg Pincus:

Screen shot 2011-07-15 at 11.04.19 PM“Great!” I told him, “I’ll be there.” Or something like that, in a tweet. I didn’t have enough time to forget or get too nervous because it was within the hour. I set the timer on my computer, so I wouldn’t work right through it.

The participants were authors of children’s literature, and the topic was “Why kidlit?” They were celebrating the second anniversary of the #kidlitchats. There were wonderful inspiring messages in 140 characters or less, like:

Screen shot 2011-07-15 at 11.11.32 PMand

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and

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and

Screen shot 2011-07-16 at 8.24.52 PMand

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And somewhere in there Jennifer Prescott added this tweet.

Screen shot 2011-07-15 at 11.12.04 PMThat was fun! After the chat I signed up for the drawing, and I was surprised to find out a couple days later that I won, along with two others of her blog followers. How fun is that?

Screen shot 2011-07-15 at 11.19.07 PMShe does this with some regularity, so check out her blog, The Party Pony, for the August giveaway.

Anyway, that was a long introduction to say that I had waited all this time to really get involved in a chat, and it was worth it! The writers were gracious and interactive. I learned some things, hopefully contributed a bit, and won some books for my classroom. All in one hour, sitting in my jammies.

Another great example of 21st century learning and growing that can happen on Twitter!

Stay Awake! Caffeine-Riddled Kids

stayawakeschool500

Riding by the high school on my bike today, I saw this telling piece of litter and stopped to check it out. Stay Awake Tablets, Alertness Aid with Caffeine.

It made me sad, like it does when I see beer bottles thrown out on the side of the road.

I couldn’t help but wonder.

  • Who took these caffeine pills?
  • Was it a young person who felt the need to throw the empty out the car window instead of into a trashcan at home?
  • Did the person who used the medication follow the recommended dosage? (One capsule, or 200 mg, every 3-4 hours–equal to two cups of coffee or a half gallon of Coke Classic.)
  • Or did they overdose?

Overdosing on caffeine seems quite acceptable in our society. FDA-approved products like Stay Awake clearly tell the user what are the recommended dosages, and it clearly says children under 12 should not use it.

However, “energy drinks are classified as dietary supplements. That means they aren’t strictly monitored for safety like food and beverages. In fact, the FDA requires very little of the manufacturers of supplements – no research on effectiveness, no verification of safety, and no warning of harm from excessive consumption.” (Emphasis mine.) See “Energy Drinks: Definitely Not Kid Stuff!”

Caffeine is popular to be sure. According to OverCaffeinated.org, “it is the most widely used behaviorally active drug in the world.” Drinking caffeine in a moderate amount through coffee and soda helps prevent overdose. It takes some energy, time, and a large bladder to drink a gallon of pop. However, with an energy drink, you only need to drink one can to get the effects of 7 strong cups of coffee or 14 cans of soda.

We could go on and read about the side effects of caffeine toxicity, but enough right now.

Today when I saw that litter and thought about the possible gateway effect to harder drugs, I couldn’t help but think of the sixth grade student I saw at the bus stop each morning finishing up his breakfast, which always included a Red Bull. Really? It used to be an oddity to see a child who liked a cup of coffee, now they are starting their mornings with the equivalent of SEVEN cups of coffee.

A few years ago there was an outcry about a ridiculous product called KickStart Spark. It was an energy drink, including caffeine and other stimulants, vitamins and minerals, marketed to children ages 4 to 11. As you can imagine, it didn’t stay on the market long.

Now, seven years later, where is the outcry? Kids are still drinking energy drinks and overdosing on caffeine every day.

Please let me know what you think about this. Do you see this as a problem in your community?

  • Are kids just becoming over-caffeinated like adults?
  • Are kids under pressure, forced to “Stay Awake” to perform in school and extra-curricular activities?
  • Are energy drinks a gateway drug? Do they lead to other drugs when caffeine is no longer effective?

Besides the links above, here are two more related articles:
“Is Red Bull A Gateway Drug? Some John Hopkins Experts Say Caffeine Drinks Need Warning Labels”
“Energy Drinks Not for Kids, Pediatricians Warn”

Welcome to New Bloggers

Welcome!

Welcome to the blogging world! Some of my blogging teacher friends have been creating resources for new bloggers, so I thought I would contribute my ideas. My simple advice is to get in there and start blogging, find your own way, and enjoy the journey.

Although I’ve been blogging for about 18 months, it’s just been in the last six months that my journey has become more engaging and rewarding.

First, I became involved in Edublogs teacher challenges. It started with the Kick Start Your Blogging last January. Next it was 30 Days to Get Your Students Blogging, next, with my students, the Student Blogging Challenge in late March through May. Then I even became a guest blogger in the Free Tools Challenge. Currently I am lurking about the PLN Challenge. I’m hoping to begin participating, but, yikes!! There are too many opportunities to take advantage of all of them. However, as a result of the blogging challenges I have tried, I’ve discovered a whole world of educators out there connecting and collaborating. I’ve met some incredible friends like Nancy Carroll, Sheri Edwards, Lyn Howlin, Theresa Allen, Joanne Selig, and Kathryn Trask—educators from all over the world.

The second thing that happened on my blogging journey is I realized I was unclear on the purpose of my blog. Was it for personal or professional reflection? Was it to give assignments and write model blog posts for my students? Yes, it was all of those things, and it was a little bit crazy. Along the way it became clear to me that I needed two blogs: one for professional entries and the other for classroom work. You are reading my professional blog, and you can find my student blogs at http://krebs.edublogs.org.

So, my advice is to get started and find your way. Maybe you’ll choose to join a blogging challenge and define your purpose earlier than I did. You are unique and your blogging journey will be too, so have fun with it and good luck!

Sheri Edwards recently wrote a post called “Five Tips for New Bloggers
She also started a Diigo group you can join intended for folks to share information that will help bloggers. It’s called ebchallenge

Finally, here is a Voicethread started by Nancy Carroll to gather blogging advice from others:

Thanks, eltpics!

Updated 26 January 2019

Wow, who would have thought that I would go back to 2011–to one of my first blog posts–and update it today, almost 8 years later?

Yesterday’s ‘assignment’ for the #Blogging28 Challenge was to update an old post, something I had not really tried previously. I looked at a few posts and couldn’t think which to do, so I skipped that day’s work.

Today, when going to leave a comment on Tiziana’s blog (today’s task), her post reminded me about the summer of 2011 when I met people like Sandy Millin, Chiew Pang, and Fiona Mauchline. I went back to this post.

If you read in the comments, you can see the quick answers I received to my questions. Chiew was right; it was easy to join in the #eltpics helpful and welcoming group.

I joined the #eltpics community for a few years, even when I wasn’t an ELT teacher, contributing and benefiting from the amazing pictures shared by others from around the world. Then I changed positions, got too busy, and lost touch. Now, I find myself in a position where I have learned so much more about English language teaching. I’m teaching 50 grade 5 students and one adult learner. I’m also studying for a TESOL certificate. I find I need people and their amazing expertise. Reading Tiziana’s post and reconnecting with this one brought up two new questions for me:

  1. Will the ELTPics account on Flickr be safely archived for future use? The way I think I understand it is the pictures that are shared with Creative Commons licenses–which these are–will not be deleted. I hope that’s true. There are 27,560 photos neatly categorized in albums good for teaching English learners.

  2. As I said, currently I am in a position in my life where I need to  join the #ELT community and make connections. I’m asking the same question I asked in the post below, can anyone help me get started? Whose blogs should I follow? Which hashtags are the best to use on Twitter? Thank you so much for your help!

 Previous Post starts here:
krebssmaller

All these images were taken by @mk_elt and shared on #eltpics.

The more I learn about being part of the 21st century digital world we live in, the more I firmly believe it is about creating, contributing, connecting, collaborating and curating. It is so fun to learn something new and to join with others who are doing and sharing these things, as well.

This morning I learned about a resource that dedicated ELT educators are contributing to the world! Thanks to others who were willing to join the conversation, those of us involved in the June, July and August Project (Twitter hashtag #JJAProject) learned about eltpics today. I had never heard of the eltpics Flickr Photostream for teachers until I saw these tweets come by this morning:

eltpics tweets

Thank you to Sandy and Chiew for telling us about the wonderful photos available for educational use from eltpics.

I created the image at the top of this post with photos in a set called “Things Shaped Like Letters” by eltpics shared on Flickr with a Creative Commons BY-NC-2.0 License. I used Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker to put them all together to spell my name with these lovely organic images. Can you read it?

I’d like to learn how to contribute my own educational photos to the eltpics.

Can anyone help me get started?

June, July, August Project – Photo a Day

I am having so much fun taking a photo a day. When I wake up in the morning, I’m full of wonder about what the day has in store for my camera and me. I have never done anything like this before, so it’s great fun! Another perk in this project: I am learning to use Flickr. What a great program! The slower pace of summer is allowing me to learn all the ins and outs, so I can be a better curator of my photos.

Thanks to a discussion between Paula (@plnaugle), Mary (@scitechyedu) and Barbara (@BarbaraDay), I was able to join other teachers in a mini version of the 365Project. In this shorter challenge, we are taking a picture a day for June, July and August, Twitter hashtag #JJAProject. Read more about it at Welcome to the #JJAProject. It’s not too late to join in the fun. Grab your camera and start today!

Special thanks to Sheri (@grammasheri) for inviting me to participate! And now, before further hyperlink abuse, I will leave you with a few of my first photos! Thanks for viewing!
06-01-11

06-02-11

06-03-11