Thursday, June 26, 2008

Social Networking - not Just for Sales Anymore

  • I decided to try my hand at answering a question in the Linked In forum to show off my expertise. Don't laugh. I chose this one: Are sales people more or less likely to engage in social networking than those in other professions?

My social networking experience started when I was transitioning from teaching fifth grade to middle school business. I had to find a group for support, and so I joined the "I Must Be Crazy, I Teach Middle School" Yahoo Group. It was great. We'd share lesson plans, discussion board topics, etc. I also entered chat rooms and joined in conversations with other single parents, movies, books, and other topics of interest - but this group was my true network. I never met a single person from the group, but we had some great times.

And I'm not in sales. Well, not really.

I later joined a network as a member and then as their manager for North Florida. You know the one, Discovery Educator Network. I really enjoyed the connections we made and the power the DEN gave the teachers. Empowering. Empowering Passionate teachers. Infusing technology, methodology, and the trends. It was absolutely fantastic.

So of course I had to write my thoughts and tell Doyle Stanton my feelings. I edited it down big time to say, "Social networking is very strong in education as well. I would say any profession that is truly enhanced by reaching out and getting to know others in order to share ideas, connections, resources, and even help in a time of need engage in social networking. I think the amount of traveling a sales person engages in though increases their likelihood of networking."

When I edited, I cut it down by accident. I left off the thought that I see the same with teachers who travel to conferences, participate in activities not necessarily sponsored by their district, and are willing to try something new. The teachers attending NECC next week are busy planning where they'll meet up if they follow on Twitter, how to connect during the conference, and where to connect afterwards.

  • David Warlick has created a fantastic tool called hitchhiker that pulls all the blogs and topics about conferences together.
  • There is a Ning for the NECC attendees to join and stay connected before and after the conference is over.
  • Twitter people are keeping an eye there to keep up to date with what's going on at NECC, and I'll bet Plurk will be busy too.
And those are just a few ways teachers will network. By meeting in person, sharing an experience, and making these initial connections, their online connection will be even stronger.

So is it limited to just sales people? No. Social networking is there for anyone willing to join and take the time to contribute and connect based upon jobs, hobbies, or interests.

Take the summer to connect with teachers. Start off by joining in on Scholastic Discussion Boards, look for a Ning for you, or really plunge into a network like DEN or others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If I Were President

Tonight before the HOA meeting, I spoke to a teacher down the street. She is currently working on her units for next year and gathering all the materials now. I personally think this is a smart move.

With it being an election year, she is really looking to incorporate this theme in many lessons. Having the students create the laws of the classrooms, writing speeches to elect the classroom government, balancing budgets for classroom activities, and so forth. Of course I mentioned that she had to use the Online Activity from Scholastic titled "" I also mentioned the great one computer classroom software from Tom Snyder titled "Decisions! Decisions!". My personal favorite is probably "On the Campaign Trail".

With these great tools, teaching in the classroom can be even more exciting.

Maps, measurement and projects

I learned the power of a letter yesterday. My home is in the preferred corridor for Progress Energy's new lines and expansion. My fellow community members received letters letting us know that we are within 250 feet of the projected path and our homes were going to be impacted. We were not told HOW they were going to be impacted and each phone call to their office gave us different answers.

So I wrote a letter to the editor and said that we needed answers. Basically our community is in limbo. With already a weak home market, we do not need this hanging over our head. My neighbor had the bid on her home withdrawn when she disclosed about the energy line project. She honestly could not tell the potential buyer how the project was going to impact the home, and therefore loss the sale. I had home improvements I wanted to do, but why spend money if my home is going to be taken in the next year or so?

The letter was published Monday morning. At 7:45 AM, my phone rang. It was a neighbor from the community next door. They read my letter and wanted to talk about the project. I received several other phone calls, including a representative from Progress Energy. I was finally told that my home SHOULD NOT be impacted or bought out.

More information came up tonight at our HOA meeting. I have been playing on Google Earth and working out the dimensions we were given. I just can't see the path the way they see it.

I need to learn how to use Sketch Up and the tools in Google Earth so I could really draw out the maps the way the company is talking. With the widening of the road, the new gas line, and then the new tower we are going to be getting crowded really fast.

Campaign Dollars and Education

I was speaking to a FL educator earlier today about purchasing a professional development package. Of course, funds are tight right now and so they're not sure if they have the monies to buy. They then made a comment about the politicians getting free insurance and how their insurance rates might even be going up. I tasted their bitterness and can't say I blame them. One politician said they are providing a public service- well so are educators.

Then I saw an article about how much money the presidential nominees are spending on their campaign and how the DNC wants McCain investigated for on the legality of McCain's decision to reject $5.8 million in taxpayer funds.

That's a lot of money. McCain is spending about Two Million a week on advertising on TV. In eight weeks, that's over sixteen million. That's the shortage of about four counties in Florida for their education budget.

But schools are made to do without, find a way to cut the budget. So they don't purchase Microsoft Office, and instead use online office tools like Zoho or Google Docs. They become very creative in their spending to make the most of the situations for all of the people involved in the realm of education.

So what if instead of spending Two Million this week on advertising, he donated one million to education, posted his videos on YouTube, blogs, and other websites, and then focused the last million on fewer time spots.

If he did that - can you imagine the praise he'd get, which in turn would be free advertisement. Obama could do the same thing. Maybe he could choose health care to donate his million too, since that's another hard hit area with the budget hits.

Could each candidate do one week of campaigning where their expenses reflect the current economy and budgets our PUBLIC SERVICE AGENCIES are being forced to deal with?

Great math activity for students when they come back. Find out how much does it cost to air a commercial, how much to create the commercials, and other campaign expenses. Place it in a spreadsheet and make suggestions on HOW to cut their expenses. Hmmm - they could even give monies to state colleges that have video production courses/majors and have them create equal commercials and benefit by getting scholarship monies. The monies and video production would have to be equal - and it's a great learning experience for those students.

I know they are using Web2.0 tools like Twitter, YouTube, and blogs - but something has got to give.

Just me rambling and ranting.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Frightful Insights

When NECC was held in New Orleans in 2004, I made the reservation to stay at this hotel that was rumored to have a ghost. I made that reservation on purpose, because I thought it would be cool to see a ghost. It was the first year I was suppose to be going to NECC by myself and my boss quickly changed my room reservation. Her reason for changing it - it was connected to Bourbon Street and there was no way she was letting a single female of her employ stay there by herself. Luckily she hired Cheryl T. and I didn't go to NECC by myself.

And luckily, she changed the room because I don't think I could have slept in a haunted hotel.

Now if you read my old blog you'll remember the story of a Friday in October of 2006 in the Pan Handle of FL where I started out in Destin, I freaked out on the road due to an overactive imagination, ended up making the wrong turn when rerouted for an accident, and ended up staying the night in the round Holiday Inn in Tallahassee, FL. I freaked out even more there because I had been reading a Nora Roberts book about vampires and well, I was too scared to even go to the drink machine to get a bottle of water!

Tonight I'm in Bartow at a fairly new (2 years old) Holiday Inn. I just closed the curtains and freaked myself out because all I could see was pitch black.

So I'm back on the computer. I thought about trying once more to write a book. I think I've started about 100, but this time it would just be for my son. See, he was just diagnosed as ADHD (which we knew and he was actually diagnosed before), OCD and/or high anxiety. There's also a chance he could be functioning autistic and something else - was it PDD or PPD or something like that. As dad says, he's the alphabet kid. Anyway, we're going to start treatments for the high anxiety, which will help us figure out if he's really OCD or just high anxiety or both. It'll also help us figure out some coping strategies. I'm just not sure if he'll start Thursday or in the fall.

So in the meantime, I'm thinking about writing a book for him. I have my Image Blender ready - a great tool to create images and create digital stories with. Trying to decide if I should make the boy a shark, since Joey is fascinated with sharks. Fascinated is actually too weak of a word to describe his passion for Great Whites. I've drawn a few silly things, and if the story turns out okay, I'll probably let my brother Kelly redraw everything to be more professional. But it's kind of calming to draw the ocean.

I just can't bring myself to draw the shark because even though I'm no where near the ocean, I'm already freaked out by the darkness I just saw outside my window - and I'm not usually afraid of the dark. Which brought me back to that trip from Destin, FL where I got lost on that one windy road that bordered the ocean and the deserted vacation homes and all I kept thinking was a shark was going to jump out of the water and get me if the trees pushed me any further off the road. (It was really dark, the trees were blowing hard in the wind, and my imagination was in overdrive times 100 and I think I had actually been forced to watch Sharkboy and Lavagirl before that trip too.)

So now I'm stuck. And scared. Time to find a comedy on tv.