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Showcase Your School’s Success

by Miguel Guhlin

“Tell It! Tag It! Share It!” exhorted the #TxEdTuesday Twitter chat organizers. The goal? To capture and share what great things are happening in Texas K-12 public schools. Share it with whom? Legislators at the Texas Capitol Building in Austin, Texas, of course! Your motivation, however, may be a little more simple. Your desire may be simply to celebrate the awesome teaching and learning happening in your classroom, your school, and/or your district. In this blog entry, let’s explore three ways to achieve the mission of #TxEdTuesday with free tools you have on your mobile phone.

Note: This is another in an ongoing series on productivity tools for leaders and do-ers. Check back often to see more!

A Framework for Showcasing Success in Schools

Let’s take a look at the framework suggested by #TxEdTuesday and adapt it for our use in our own school or organization.

See: Tell the great things happening in your schools. Use pictures and videos.
Adapt: Use pictures, video, and audio you capture via interviews, snapshots, and vidcasts with students and teachers.
See: Tag your TX reps and senators. Use #TxEdTuesday
Adapt: Use the school hashtag when tweeting/Facebooking, and share that hashtag on all print publications, including t-shirts and baseball caps. Share the school hashtag at PTA meetings. Help people see the hashtag and understand they don’t need a Twitter account in order to follow it.
See: Re-tweet and share stories from other great public schools.
Adapt: Encourage all campus staff, news organizations (in tandem with your district public relations team) to re-share tweets with the hashtag. Use Tweetdeck to quickly schedule tweets throughout the day featuring great content!

We can easily adapt this model for use in our schools. Even better, students, parents, and teachers can adapt the model. Let’s explore how.

#1 – Tell It!

Remember show-and-tell in school? I do. I was always a bit nervous about what to share with others in front of the class. The pressure of the audience kept my presentations short and to the point. Brevity in virtual show-and-tell efforts remains a welcome guideline to keep in mind. Here are some tips:

  • Use your mobile phone’s camera app to capture pictures and video clips. You probably use this already for personal stuff; take advantage of the native camera app for school success, too. If you want more sophisticated tools, read this blog entry featuring iOS and Android apps with photo tips.
  • Use Shadow Puppet EDU (iOS) or StoryMaker 2 (Android) to arrange your photos and videos. These apps allows you to add audio narration and background music, if you want. Keep it peppy and upbeat.
  • Set up a free blog like Dr. Tim Tyson did for Mabry Middle School that allows you to create an archive of all the great stories you’re sharing.
  • Create infographics using free, web-based tools featuring your school. Or ask students to create them!

Want to get more sophisticated? Consider one of these digital storytelling apps!

#2 – Tag It!

Go global with your sharing, and your school community will get the message. Aim just for your community, and you will certainly go unheard and unseen. And that would be a shame given the great things students and staff are about. Nothing is so exciting as seeing an international or national retweet of something your students are doing. In addition to inviting others to share using the campus hashtag, here are some quick tips:

      • Keep your hashtag short and to the point. Use Twitter Search to make sure your hashtag hasn’t been used by others.
      • Keep tweets brief: “Check out my students’ writing! #mycampusname” with a picture of student writing.
      • Check out the Participate.com chat hashtags and add one or two that will illustrate points. If your students are engaged in #coding or #STEM, then be sure to add the pound symbol (#) in front of those words.

#3 – Share It!

“I have other things to do every day. I just don’t have time to hunt down and showcase what students and staff are doing!” Be careful you don’t fall into the “I don’t have time!” trap and despair. Seeking and showcasing spectacular student work isn’t just your mission. Every staff member, student, and parent is responsible. Invite them to join you. Model appropriate hashtag usage. Consider these tips:

        • Take pictures throughout the day or week, then arrange them into a slideshow with music (easy to do with ShadowPuppet EDU on iOS). This will be shared as a video.
        • When including videos, post them to your school’s YouTube channel (use YouTube Capture app on iOS to make that easy), a Seesaw class blog, or Shadow Puppet EDU site if possible.
        • Only have time once a week? Take pictures from the previous week, then use Tweetdeck to schedule them in advance, one or two per day. This can eliminate the pressure of always being “on” with social media.

Showcase Your School

In his book, Digital Leadership, Eric Scheninger shares the story of Dr. Spike Cook. Dr. Cook moved from printed newsletters sent home several times a week to a regularly-updated online blog. Blog entries featured images, video, text, and more. These blog entries make it easy to share content and create a digital archive organized in reverse chronological order. You need only update the blog once a week, but capturing and showcasing amazing learning at your school, well, that’s a rewarding venture for leaders and do-ers!

Need help showcasing your school’s work? Ask a TCEA Director of Professional Development to help you get started! Reach out to Dr. Bruce Ellis (@drbruceellis or via email to bellis@tcea.org) or fill out a logistics form.

Find Out More

Want to learn other ways to save time and be more productive at work? Attend the Productivity Tools for Administrators on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Austin. The one-day learning experience is guaranteed to provide you a wealth of hands-on activities to ensure you walk away with the tips and techniques you need to do more in less time. Register here.


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