An Experiment.

I’ve had quite the relaxing summer. No major trips, no classes, no conferences. Just movies, binging on TV shows, reading books, and listening to podcasts. It’s been great, save for one bad habit that just got worse: Facebook.

I realized how much time I was spending on Facebook when I admitted to a friend that sometimes I spent my time watching Facebook the way I would watch a movie or TV show–just constantly refreshing the feed to see what people we reading, seeing, doing with their lives.

So I decided that after my birthday, I would go on a Facebook hiatus and see what I could accomplish. Today was the first day of that–the last time I looked at Facebook was at 10 a.m. Here’s what I’ve done in that time:

  • Met a friend for lunch.
  • Worked on my book for two hours.
  • Visited with a former student at Starbucks.
  • Watched a movie.
  • Read 80 pages of a book that is due back to the library on Thursday.

And now it’s 7:30 p.m., and I need a break from reading so I’m going to go for a walk. When I get back, I will scan in some ads I’ve been collecting throughout the summer, to use in my Popular Culture Studies class, then plan out the rest of my week, do some yoga, and go to bed.

I’m interested to see how much I get done this week (and perhaps next) without falling into the time suck that is Facebook.

That Evil Facebook…

In reference to my previous post: the other high school in our district is scheduled to complete the state writing test this week. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, to be exact. Yesterday, an ice storm resulted in ridiculous absenteeism at our building–I can only imagine it was the same across town. Today, school was canceled as we expected significant snowfall. I just received word that tomorrow is canceled due to wind chill factors of -25 to -35.

Moral? Winter doesn’t like State testing anymore than I do.

**********************************

Are you on Twitter? Do you follow @mashable? You should. Sure, sometimes Pete Cashmore’s social media news aggregator tweets links and articles that don’t have much to do with education, but every now and then, an article like this comes along.

I wrote my master’s thesis about this exact issue. I retweeted the article, and a former student asked, “”What’s your take?”

Well, my dear former student, you asked a question that requires more than 140 characters, so here goes.

Four years ago, as I was conducting preliminary research for my thesis, I knew exactly how I felt about this issue. Students shouldn’t be punished for online speech created after school hours, off school grounds.

The courts don’t seem to provide much guidance–most of the cases I read were split. Some judges find for the adults, some–presumably judges with a clear idea of First Amendment protections–find for the students.

Part of the problem is the precedent set by previous Supreme Court cases involving students invoking the First Amendment–Tinker v.Des Moines, Bethel v. Fraser, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, and most recently, Frederick v. Morse. After Tinker, each case has limited student expression, but each case also involved expression on school grounds or at school events. Judges use these cases to buttress their opinions that student speech should be monitored–24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, the root of the problem is that few people teach proper use of online expression. We aren’t teaching restraint. We aren’t teaching that once something is posted online, it is archived and retrievable forever. And honestly, many adults aren’t much better than the kids with this–otherwise, the National Labor Relations Board wouldn’t have had to rule that Facebook wall posts are free speech. 

People who compare Facebook wall posts to notes passed in the hallway are using faulty logic–when I wrote notes to my friend Jen about our government teacher’s annoying repeated phrases, no one else saw it. If I had posted it to Facebook, it would have been seen by all my friends and possibly copied into a text message and sent to the entire student body. It’s not the same.

I’m not advocating for an all-out ban, nor am I advocating that teens have unlimited access. But we need to teach them how to use the tools available to them. 

And then we need to practice what we preach.

How Facebook Helped Me Grade

I’ve neglected keeping track of how many hours a week I work, because I know I’ve been beyond my 60 hour weekly limit I set for myself. 

But not last week. 

On Saturday, I slept in.  I read the paper and watched two episodes of Alias.  I went to the Scholastic Book Fair and picked up 20 books for my classroom.  I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up Candy Cane Joe-Joes–all these trips in a blizzard, mind you.  I visited my parents, and went to their church Christmas party.  And then I came home and finished a book I’d been reading for a while.

Sunday, I went to church.  Then I came home and watched Steven Sondheim’s birthday celebration that I’d been saving on my TiVo.  I talked to my sister, practiced the piano, and by 6:30, I realized I needed to get some work done.  But I also needed some motivation.

So I posted on Facebook: “if I grade my research papers holistically instead of marking every teeny mistake, how many will I finish by 10 tonight? Magic Christmas Fudge goes to whose guess is closest. And yes, I will ship. But I’m not making it until this weekend.”

And people placed their bets.  Some low-balled me a little (my nephew said 9) and some had enormous faith in me (one friend said 25).  But every time I felt like giving up, I’d look at what my friends thought I could do, and I’d grade one more.

By 10 PM, I had graded 18 research papers.

Now that’s the power of social media.

Twitter Tuesday

Posterous is being naughty.  I had this somewhat insightful post started, and then Posterous “experienced an unexpected error” and my draft is saved, yet uneditable.  So you are denied the insight and instead just get the goods.

From @joelmchale: help Matt Damon provide clean water to underdeveloped nations.  (If you like “Community” or “The Soup,” you should follow @joelmchale. Because he’s hilarious)

From @ted_com: a beautiful poem.

From @mcleod: an articulation of why I feel pressure to stretch and learn.  Settling isn’t an option.

I read about this site from my Google Reader, and then it’s bounced around Twitter the past two days. 

Maybe the insightful post will happen next week…

Twitter Tuesday (Wednesday Edition)

From @donalynbooks, @PaulWHankins, and several others: call your senator about the Coburn Amendment. 

From @JensBookPage, some of the best YA lit of 2010.

From @DanielPink, a review of The Dragonfly Effect–including a link to three ways to better use social media.

From @mcleod, a map of the United States, renamed as countries with matching GDPs. 

And as a Thanksgiving gift to you, here is how I sent off my students for their holiday weekend: Ignore the Swedish subtitles.  At least I think it’s Swedish.

Happy Thanksgiving!