Friday, February 14, 2014

CMS snow-day tweets exercise the brain

Students playing around on their phones during snow days may actually be learning,  my colleague April Bethea says. While she was monitoring social media and keeping our online report fresh,  she got intrigued by #CMSsnowED tweets and filed this report:

Bethea

Charlotte-Mecklenburg students have been out of class for most of this week. But the district has tried to keep some lessons flowing - all in 140 characters or less.

For four hours each snow day, students have answered questions on subjects like chemistry, math and literature or shown off their haiku writing abilities through a Twitter Q&A the district has tagged #CMSsnowED.

At the top of the hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- Note: today's will start at 11 a.m. -- , the district tweets a new question from its @CharMeckSchools account. The first person who tweets back the correct response gets a shout out from the district and a promise of CMS swag (a water bottle, umbrella or other district memorabilia).

"It's just a way to keep students engaged while schools are closed and to have fun with students online during the storm," said Tahira Stalberte, CMS' executive director for communications.

The virtual Q&A first launched in late January when CMS closed for two days because of snow. Stalberte said the idea came from the district's social media team, which uses Twitter and other tools to try to connect more with students or promote CMS initiatives.

The #CMSsnowED questions come from a variety of sources, including from district teachers, SAT study guides and other online resources, said Stalberte.

One of the first questions asked students to calculate the square root of the combined jersey numbers for a group of Carolina Panthers' players. And this week, students were asked, among other things, the following question about the novel Moby Dick:

LITERATURE: "Call me Ishmael" then call me a cab! Know the name of the boat I was on when it was destroyed by that albino whale, landlubber?

The question drew more than a dozen replies. (The correct answer is "Pequod.")

CMS is not the only district to communicate with students engaged during the snow break. Many districts used social media to help communicate news about school closings. Some, like Durham Public Schools and and Iredell-Statesville Schools, asked students to share photos of what they were doing during the snow day -- DPS called them "snowfies" -- and retweeted some of the replies.

Stalberte said the district has received a lot of positive feedback from students and parents about #CMSsnowED. She said the district plans to do the Q&A each day students are out of class because of the
weather.

"We have to meet students where they are," Stalberte said, "and they are on social media."

Ann here with one more item while we're on snow days and social media: A great school-closing announcement, made by the private Durham Academy, went viral Thursday.  On the chance you missed it, here it is. (I just realized this video displays on my computer but not my iPad, so if you're seeing a blank, here's the link.)


50 comments:

Anonymous said...

exercise the brain? Is this a joke CO? Social media will be the decline of this generation. And readers are not impressed that a dozen (of almost 25,000) high school students responded to a question. Social media is being used as you stated to communicate school closings, that is NOT exercising the brain.

Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for Anonymous 8:17. Hate it forward!!! If you can just get a few more people to be as bitter as you, and they each embitter just a few more each, maybe we can have a city that's just as hateful/angry/sour as you. Wouldn't it be great?! Hate it forward.

Chipper said...

To 8:28am - Unfortunately 8:17am is correct. What hate are you talking about?

The teenagers nowadays are not learning on social media, they are wasting hours upon hours every day instead of doing more meaningful and "educational" activities. Why are you so offended by the truth, maybe hits too close to home?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher there is no way to deny that social media is having an affect on teenagers, and not necessarily a good one. A teen locked away in his bedroom all day, a reduction in hours spent socializing or engaging in sports or hobbies, and a decline in grades are all tip offs that a teenager might be overusing technology.

Some researchers believe that with each increase of the amount of information that we consume via technology, our attention spans become shorter. While reading improves creativity and critical thinking, personal technologies don't foster those skills as well. I see evidence of this everyday in the classroom.

Shamash said...

Great. Now instead of "This Week In Rap" we can have "This Week In A Tweet".

How about a Common Core Standard Compliant software package for the kiddies, too.

They can call it Nocabulary.

(In honor of the rap software, Flocabulary.)

Cl m Ishml...

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

I think George Orwell would have loved the idea of educating using Twitter.

Getting rid of all those unnecessary words and letters opens a whole new path of thinking efficiencies.

Maybe we could shorten the alphabet as well.

A lot of those letters really sound alike.

I nominate the letter "C" as the first to go.

It sounds like "S" or "K" anyway, so is totally unnecessary.

Then I could hook my backup IBM Selectric with the broken "C" and missing carriage return back to my computer again.

Philip said...

"Students playing around on their phones during snow days may actually be learning"

Anonymous said...

Learning?

Nip it. Nip it in the bud.

Wiley Coyote said...

My wife has a couple of favorite reality shows she likes to watch. (Thankfully, it isn't the Kardashians).

As we sit in the den at night and have some together time after work, I work on the computer and try to tune out the shows.

The other night, the language that was being spoken on one of these shows stopped me dead in my typing.

The people talking were wealthy "housewives" with an entourage auditioning people for some sort of show.

The poor use of grammar was unbelievable. How these people make all that money is beyond me. It sure doesn't require the use of proper English.

We're not dumbing down kids today with technology. It's already happened and getting worse....

Anonymous said...

To Philip - tweets can be helpful in communicating information but learning? That's a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Together time? Ignoring one another on your electronics. That's sad...

Anonymous said...

Wiley, "We're not dumbing down kids today with technology. It's already happened and getting worse..."

yes, because of our dependence on gadgets. Teens are constantly distracted by using all these devices, and aren't interested in learning anymore. That takes too much effort and time. The characters in the shows you're watching are all a product of this new gadget dependent society.

Pam R. said...

It is hard as a parent to encourage your child to learn despite all the distractions. Parents have a battle in their own homes managing the iphone use.

Dr. Bob said...

There are hundreds of studies and surveys which clearly demonstrate that kids and teens are being negatively affected by interacting with modern technology. From cell phones to video games, the documented effect on kids and teens is unquestionably negative. These negative effects are caused primarily by the tendency to withdraw from social interaction, withdrawal from society in general, a lack of exercise – just to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bob, I'm calling shenanigans on your citing of "hundreds of studies". Of course we used to have studies that claimed smoking was ok for your health so maybe its true.

Anonymous said...



Technology in and of itself is not bad, but the overuse and misuse of it can be, especially for teens.

I feel for some of the parents that are posting frustrations about it.

Shamash said...

I know we should have been Tweeting...

But I used our evil computers to read books with my 4-yo and work on Singapore Math with my 3rd grader.

Among other more fun things both indoors and out.



Anonymous said...

Educrats and others can use words like "learning" and "educational" to legitimize anything.

Ann Doss Helms said...

In fairness here, "learning" was my word, not CMS'. I don't think anyone is contending this is the equivalent of a serious lesson. It's just a fun way to keep kids engaged during the snow holiday, best I can tell.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 11:22

The together time is being together in the same room, discussing other topics while doing "our things".

It's called multi-tasking.

I have three TVs in the house and each of us could be alone in another room but choose to stay in the same room.

Try it yourself sometime.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who feels CMS may be taking us all down a path where those who currently call themselves teachers become little more than education facilitators, and the technology devices become the teacher?

Wake up people!! The downside to these devices are more troubling by the day. CMS schools face overcrowding in the classrooms and must find a way to crowd more and more students into each classroom. Technology is their answer!!

Carol S. said...

Wiley, I think you missed the point of the 11:22 poster. You've seen it plenty of times at local restaurants, an entire family sitting together at a table with their tech devices, not interacting with each other. Try it yourself sometime.

Now that is a sad commentary on our society.

Wiley Coyote said...

1:32...

I get your restaurant point and agree, but that's not what is happening in my den watching TV with my wife and working on the computer.

I'm not playing games or surfing the net. Nor is every second spent on the computer during that time.

1 - I work all day at my office when not out of town.

2 - When I come home, my computer comes on because most of my clients are on the west coast which means I'm still on the job due to the time difference. It's not uncommon for me to have to immediately get data or other information for them when it's only 5:00 pm their time and 8:00 here.

3 - I also have two side businesses that I have to keep up with about every other day so I do that in the background as well.

4 - Our son periodically calls via Skype from Germany during the early evening hours so another reason I have the computer up.

5 - People often wonder how I can be a prolific poster on here. Well, it's simple. I'm constantly online due to the above mentioned reasons so my "one playing online" is reading Ann's blog and responding to the issues.

So you can see I'm not sitting around burning brain cells on inane bs like twitter and facebook.

When our son was at West Meck and went to Japan, he wasn't allowed to take his cellphone.

Snow Owl said...

Interesting comments today.

cyberculture is turning us into a society of know-nothings.

Read the book The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein.

Carol S. said...

Hi Wiley, Yes I agree with you 100%, you aren't wasting your time doing twitter, instagram and whatever.

Looks like most of these comments are directed at the kids wasting time on technology devices and computers.

I'm from an older generation but it makes me sad to see the kids these days, and the parents who let them do it all day long.

vikers said...

I am a high school teacher. I see my students more concerned with defining themselves by who they are in the virtual world rather than who they are in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Oh the sweet little Johnnys and Suzys are getting yet another opportunity to play with their technology, and now it's being lauded as educational and an exercise of the brain. Kudos to CMS for leveraging technology even when kids can't come to school!! Makes me wonder why the kids aren't being asked to get online and do actual work while at home....

showmethemoney said...

Hate it forward comment, I don't get it. I presume if someone disagrees with someone elses opinion theyre considered a hater.

Anonymous said...

Technology has gone to far. This is what the masters want. In the house looking at flickering blue lights while they pull the strings. They decide us by are politics. We point fingers at each other and live using bubbles. How many of us have gardens? How many of us can skin a buck or fish to eat. When something at my house breaks, I throw it out and take a trip to walley world. Our grand parents fixed everything from dinner to the car. Are we all just dependent adults? Are our children just the next step in our subservient evolution?

Anonymous said...

kids tweeting, must be a slow news day.

Anonymous said...

divide and live in bubbles, sorry

Pamela Grundy said...

For all you folks who despair of the future of world civilization, I recommend Hamlet's Blackberry, by William Powers. Every development in communication, starting with the the expansion of writing and development of the postal system in the Roman Empire, has been met with the lamentations of those who feel the end is near. It's not the technology, it's how people use it. As the mother of a teenager, who thus has to manage the whole technology thing. I think the CMS tweets are swell. The one Ann printed is cleverly written, and well worth responding to. Good grief, folks.

Anonymous said...

showmethemoney,

Calling someone a "hater" is a liberal defense mechanism.

No one else uses it.

Anonymous said...

Pamela Grundy, I sense frustration more than anything else with most of the comments. And CMS' technology, Iphone, Ipad push is just part of it. The notion that our teens are exercising their brains by answering a few questions from some CMS administrative office is just silly. The kids need less time on these devices, not more.

Shamash said...

Pamela,

If you read The Dumbest Generation, you'll realize that no one under thirty will read Hamlet's Blackberry.

Maybe you could tweet them a summary.

Shamash said...

Also, for those who are having trouble sleeping due to overexposure to "blue light" from LEDs on their technogadgets...

Try f.lux

http://justgetflux.com/

"it makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. "

Pamela Grundy said...

I know plenty of kids under thirty who read just fine.

Liked this comment on the Dumbest Generation, which pretty much sums up Hamlet's Blackberry: the more things change, the more they stay the same.


"I'm a member of Generation X, and most of the items Dr. Bauerlein blames for the ignorance of Generation Y were not in widespread use when I was a teen. We didn't have the Internet, cell phones, iPods, or sophisticated video game systems, and my town did not even get wired for cable until my freshman year of high school. Yet we did not spend our leisure time in the type of intellectual pursuits that Dr. Bauerlein imagines have been displaced by these modern items. Instead of literature, philosophy, high culture, political activism, or discussing current events we wasted our time on mindless drivel. We hung out at the mall or roller skating rink, gossiped on landlines, watched network soap operas, listened to pop music on the radio or our Walkman, flipped through "Tiger Beat" and other teen magazines, played video games on our Nintendos or Segas, and so on. And I really don't think my parents' generation was all that much different as teens, although the technology was obviously more primitive."

Shamash said...

Yep, and in the 1920's they were dancing the Charleston and Lindy-hop.

And living the Great Gatsby instead of reading it.

And so on...

I thought it was funny that the Dumbest Generation mentioned "jazz" as part of the "high culture" which had survived the test of time.

Poor kids, don't know Thelonious Monk...

When it was just the popular music of its time.

Much like the Beatles are today.

Or Led Zeppelin on "Classic" rock stations.

But technology today does tend to focus more on the immediate "now" than it did before.

There's no denying that trend.

Or is there?

Funny, though, how so many inventors of technology tout the educational benefits of their new thingy.

Edison was certain that the phonograph would be used primarily for educational purposes.

Anonymous said...

Pamela, the problem with technology today is that there are no limits, it's constant immediate gratification and it is most often done alone. Most teens have a hard time being more than an arms length away from their cell phone. They are DEPENDENT on them.

When I used to go roller skating with my friends every Saturday afternoon we had to walk there, spend our own money that we earned and we interacted with our friends. We weren't dependent on technology for all of our entertainment and stimulation. Most of that came from our interaction with family and friends.

Anonymous said...

If parents want to manage cell phone use with kids just contact your cell phone provider and put limits on their use. We have cell phone coverage stop for our teens(through ATT) at 10pm every night and it turns back on at 7am. Works for us.

Shamash said...

Of course, we need not worry about the "death" of Western culture just yet.

Not as long as these guys are around:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/02/can_asians_save_classical_music_.html

Shamash said...

Anon 9:23am

Have you tried telling your kids that too much technology will grow hair on their palms?

See what they do.

Shamash said...

When I was a kid in the 1960's, I used to fall asleep listening to a 6 transistor radio.


Tom Miner said...

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have done an excellent job at not only engaging students in the classroom, but also online! As a student in CMS, I applaud them for taking this step in making sure students, parents & teachers are all connected. It's been amazing the see students from all over the district interacting with one another on Twitter, all due to CMS & #CMSnowEd & #CMSToastyWarm.

I heard about the school cancellations FIRST on Twitter before it was even announced on TV. The Admin of the account is also doing a great job making sure that every student/parent/teacher that Tweets a question to the CMS account is answered.

#CMSnowEd is just another way of continuing the education outside of the classroom.

You ask any student following @CharMeckSchools on Twitter, and I guarantee you'll get a positive response, due to the steps CMS is taking to connect with Students on line. Way to go, CMS & the CMS Twitter Admin! #StudentsApprove!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom, I go to school with you, go Knights. Yes it's a great way to communicate fast, easy info.
But I know that hours are wasted away typing useless messages all day long too. Oh well that's my life.

Wiley Coyote said...

Here's a good read....

Kathleen Reardon.

Professor, USC Marshall School; Author, "The Secret Handshake" and "Comebacks At Work"

Technology Actually Can Rot Your Teenager's Brain -- and Maybe Yours Too

....In a discussion online, a young woman told me this:

My generation tends to text/check stuff online every 10 minutes regardless of importance or necessity. As a result, we end up instant messaging each other at work instead of walking to each other's offices. I think it makes us more technology savvy and more connected -- in a way -- but considerably less considerate, attentive and more awkward. I don't think we know when the social networking stops and the real world begins.

And then there is the neuroplasticity of the brain to consider. The brain is malleable. It changes as we learn. New pathways can be formed and new abilities developed if people use their brains effectively. If we don't try new things, if we don't experiment as everyday communication requires, we become stuck in repetitive, often dysfunctional patterns that influence our futures. We exist in URPS -- unwanted repetitive episodes.

The main message here is: If your son or daughter is always using technology and you thought it might be rotting his or her brain, you just might be right. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some suggestions.

One thing I can safely say having studied communication throughout my career, you can't just suddenly become an effective communicator in several arenas if you spend most of your time focused on one.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-reardon/technology-actually-can-r_b_783940.html

Anonymous said...

Amen Wiley. Probably 90% of what is tweeted is just wasted time, 10% useful info. This generation is lazy bc of all the technology..

A big problem right now at several of the CMS middle schools is bullying via twitter, instagram, kik, ask.fm, facebook, pheed, Tumbir and snapchat.

Anonymous said...

How's Rome doing today?

Godzilla said...

a lot has already been said here about the subject of teenagers and too much technology but I look at it from a physical fitness stand point.

A recent study (USA today) says that only one in four teens are considered physically fit and get 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
That absolutely correlates with too much technology time.