Session Title: Blogging Lessons Learned: Around the World With Curran

Your Name: Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Ph.D.

Work Title: Assistant Professor, School of Education

School or Organization Name: University of Saint Joseph

Co-Presenter Name(s): my 2nd grade son, Curran

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: United States

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Elementary teachers and parents

Short Session Description (one line): How blogging outside of the classroom transformed learning for a 1st grader.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like): 

In November 2013, I presented, The Tweet Heard Around the World at the Thirteenth Annual International Education Week event at the University of Saint Joseph.  The project was intended to demonstrate how far a message could travel once a user hits send.  I tweeted and blogged asking my PLN to help demonstrate the power of Twitter by retweeting this tweet around the world: "I’m presenting, The Tweet Heard Around the World and will be sharing the benefits of embedding social media into higher education with a particular focus on teacher education.  It is my hope that my presentation will support the need for iCitizenship in teacher education to further support global collaboration with classrooms, students and teachers across the country and around the world via Twitter.  Please leave a comment below sharing where you are located and any comments".


In 24 hours, the tweet had been read in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Australia, Singapore, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, South Africa, Istanbul, Albania, Finland, Denmark, Italy, France, Dubai, Russia, Indonesia, Germany, New Zealand, Vietnam, Korea, China, Japan, Romania and Guinea.  The blog post received 2, 274 views and 264 comments, as well as responses and retweets on Twitter.  The results exceeded any preconceived expectation.  An unexpected result was when the author’s seven-year-old son became actively engaged in recording the responses.  Figure 1 represents the first grader finding the locations on a world map.  With his help, the 50 states and 30 countries were recorded and tallied: Canada had the most comments, 22; California, 19; Australia, 14; Texas, 13; and South Africa, 7 comments.


The following day, my son asked if he could start his own blog.  When asked why he wanted to blog, he responded, “I want to keep learning about the world.”  The opportunity to learn about geography, global connections/networks, and the world around us is possible via social media.  What started as an attempt to demonstrate the power of Twitter in teacher education quickly became personal as my son became inspired to blog.  His first post, “Where in the World Are You?” received comments from Canada (3), England, Vermont, Maine, Missouri, Indonesia, Texas (2), Nebraska, New York (2), Connecticut (5), Seattle (2), Lebanon, California (2), Washington D.C., Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois (2), Australia (2), France, Massachusetts (2), Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina, Wyoming, Wisconsin, India, and Thailand.


As a result of this first blog post, Angela Maiers reached out and asked if he would write a guest post on her site.  In the post, Around the World With Curran, the first grader blogger shared: "This weekend I helped my mom blog.  She got comments from around the world and I found them on a map.  I like to learn about new places and I like to travel...My blog will be a place for me to write and I like to get comments from different places.  I keep a list and tally all the locations.  Getting comments is like having a lot of penpals".


This teachable moment for teacher candidates was intended to highlight that the words, images and videos we create, share and forward/repost/retweet online are 1) permanent representations of ourselves and 2) have an indefinite global reach once sent.  However, the outcome suggests that introducing social media as a learning tool at a young age influences how we connect, collaborate, and learn with a global audience.

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