Nicholas Provenzano is a tech guy. He uses technology in his classroom at . He blogs about education. He's on the district's technology committee. He also tweets.
Recently while reading an article about comics, he got an idea and applied it to education through Twitter--the social media site that allows users to share anything in 140 characters or less and enables users to quickly share the tweet of one user with other users.
He began a hashtag--a thread that can be searched for all results--asking for positive stories about school and how it impacted users' lives. The hashtag, #SchoolDidAGoodThing, has garnered a wide variety of answers from many different people. Some, but not all, who responded are educators.
Among the responses:
- developing the love of reading.
- being the first female in her family to attend college and graduate school.
- a thank you to a middle school teacher for not accepting. substandard work and making the student do a project over and over again.
- inspiration to develop artistic skills.
- science teachers who did projects that made a student feel like a scientist.
- a lifelong love of learning.
- a trip to an ice cream shop with a second-grade teacher when the student's parents were going through a divorce, with the message that everything was going to be OK.
- the ability to explore everything and anything.
- the confidence in one's capabilities more so than the individual had of herself.
The list could continue, and is on Twitter. The tag has been passed around so much, responses are coming from people who have never met or even know of Provenzano.
"Since I write about education issues, I started to think about all of the negative things people have been saying about teachers and the job we are doing," he said. "I thought it would be cool to start a tag where people could share the good things school did for them."
Provenzano's personal blog, thenerdyteacher.com, was named second runner-up as the best new Edublog in 2010 from #edchat--a cyber library for teachers, students administrators and parents operated by veteran educators that encourages discussion. Provenzano started the blog in 2010 and has participated in live internet lectures with #edchat.
He is more than pleased with the response.
"The responses have been simply moving," he said, noting that he has already blogged about the response, highlighting just a few of the posts.
"I've never done anything like this before. I had no idea it was going to take off," Provenzano said. "I thought some of my friends would share a story or two and it would be a nice talking point among friends, but it really went much further than I (could have) ever imagined."
Provenzano is attending the AP Annual Conference 2011 this week in San Francisco and will be on a discussion panel regarding teacher advocacy. Conference organizers asked him to attend and to speak about the importance of teacher advocacy as well as how technology can play a role in it. He plans to use the #SchoolDidAGoodThing as an example, he said.
This school year, Provenzano completed a . The project took a great amount of coordination by the teachers at both schools but also by administrators and isn't something that could have happened without the use of technology.
A big part of the project for the students was to write blog entries throughout the length of it and one of the final blogs students were required to write was a persuasive essay about what they learned during the project and why it was a good learning experience. The blogs were dual purpose--the students practiced their writing skills and inadvertently it gave Provenzano direct feedback, allowing him to react throughout the project if changes or alterations were necessary.
Provenzano recommends all teachers use Twitter as a professional development tool, noting what a great tool it has been for him as a high school teacher.
With more than 8,000 followers on Twitter, Provenzano's reach is far and wide. The feedback is even more than he believed possible, with responses by the well-known author and education writer Diane Ravitch and U.S. Department of Education Press Secretary Justin Hamilton.
"So many people shared very personal stories about their lives. ... It's easy to look at all of the bad things that are going on in schools, but how many great things do we miss that cannot be measured by a standardized test?"
The answer is only a click away at #SchoolDidAGoodThing.