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Tweet Tweet, Ribbit Ribbit: Teaching an Old Frog New Tricks; Why I, an Old Teacher, took to Twitter

Karalee Nakatsuka
Written by Karalee Nakatsuka

I’m an old teacher.  It’s been a long time since my name + young + teacher have been used in the same sentence.  Former students have returned to school and let me know that I’ve gotten older and that my hair is gray; thanks, I would’ve never noticed!

And I’m not the most naturally techy person, especially since I was born in the olden days, pre-iPad, pre-post-it notes!  I remember my dad’s first PC.  We had so much fun playing sad-looking games that looked like they were created on the typewriter (an electric, electronic, or manual machine with keys for producing printlike characters one at a time on paper inserted around a roller. LOL) with happy faces racing around the screen as we directed them with the cursors on the PC. Good memories, great fun!

I grew up with floppy disks.  I grew up with a dial-up modem; I still find the dial up tones with its high pitched scream, signaling that we were just about connected kinda comforting.  I grew up with Wordstar, one wrong command and your whole term-paper was underlined (yes it did happen).

I had to use an adding machine to add up my grades when I first started teaching.  I had to write a grant for the first PC that came into my classroom.  And when we first got PCs throughout the school, the most exciting thing we could think about was the ability to email each other!

I was never a social media person.  Many people have told me to join Facebook.  I have plenty of friends and relatives on Facebook, but I’ve never embraced it.  Snapchat, Instagram?  Huh?  Sounds like a foreign language.

Then our district started getting into Twitter and I decided to give it a try.  I had just gotten my first smartphone less than a year prior to this decision. The 8th graders were going to Pali Adventure Camp and I wanted to share their experience with their parents, whoever was following us on Twitter.  I never made it to the district Twitter 101 classes, but my coach Lucretia said she’d help me.  She gave me my personal Twitter tutorial.

She helped me to:

1) Start a Twitter account.

2) Create my handle (your username, or handle, is your identity): @historyfrog (I teach history and I like cartoon frogs, especially Keroppi, please don’t send me a real one.).

3) Took my picture: first just a frog and a history book, later I made my own Bitmoji (your own personal emoji)

4) Helped me write up my bio.

5) Explained Twitter basics: hit the feather, add a picture if desired, add the appropriate handles @FirstAveMS @ArcadiaUnfied, etc.

Then I was off to Pali and I started tweeting.  I took a picture of the students departing and then our arrival.  I took pictures zip lining and on the high ropes.  I took pictures of the food.  And I tweeted them all with my 140 character explanation.  It was actually fun to have the opportunity to tweet and share the Pali happenings.  I really didn’t know what I was doing.  Sometimes my pictures didn’t look so good.  Sometimes I didn’t include the right handles.  That’s when I found out that one’s tweeps (a person’s followers on the social media website Twitter) are really important.

Whenever I messed up, it was okay because Coach Lucretia would promote my Tweet by quoting it and adding whatever handle or anything else I left off.  Sometimes AUSD would retweet (repost or forward a message posted by another user) my tweet and I’d feel so accomplished. I didn’t realize my tweet had only gotten this far becauseLucretia was filling in whatever this newbie tweeter had left off and helping me and my tweets to be more successful.

I like to tell stories, I like to take pictures, I like to share, I like to celebrate whatever works for me. And I like to recognize the great stuff my students and my fellow colleagues do–Twitter scratches all of these itches.  I am also a parent and I like to know what happens to my kid, so I appreciate the opportunity to inform other caring and curious parents like me about what’s happening with their kids.  I love my school, my district and my colleagues.  They are doing amazing things and I think it needs to be shared and celebrated with the larger community.  So I encourage them to tweet and I do my best to help them and to promote their tweets too.

There’s a lot more for me to learn in the Twitter universe.  I watched, but didn’t participate, in my first Twitter chat (A Twitter chat or tweet chat is an online discussion using twitter, so every post is a tweet.) the other day. It was kinda scary, but also exciting.  I’m still searching for more people to follow who will add to my classroom, my knowledge and inspire me.  I know I can learn to use Tweetdeck (a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts) better and more strategically.  And I continue to encourage my co-workers to sign-up and tweet out all the great things they’re doing.

600+ tweets later, I’m still tweeting, still sharing and still learning.  Thanks Coach! Can’t wait to see what’s ahead in the Twitter Universe!

Yes, you can teach an old frog new tricks!

About the author

Karalee Nakatsuka

Karalee Nakatsuka

Wife, Mom, MS 8th U.S. History Teacher, passionate about history, utilizing technology in the classroom, and making history come alive for students.