AUBURN — When former Gov. Angus King, lecturing at last month's iPad conference, said, "We can discover talent in places people may not have even thought of," Auburn Middle School student Katie Ferrara tweeted.
Donnie Peterson, 12, was listening to a school administrator from California who recommended new technology initiatives should “always start small and grow bigger.”
Peterson tweeted that.
Acting as reporters, 21 Auburn Middle School students live-tweeted the Nov. 16-18 national iPad conference at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Tweets are brief messages (up to 140 characters) sent out on computers or cellphones that can be seen by others who follow online “Twitter” accounts.
Auburn students also wrote stories about the conference for their online newspaper, “Falcon News,” which can be read at www.amsfalconnews.com.
The students' work is turning heads.
King, a keynote speaker at the conference about kindergarten students using iPads, praised the quality of the student tweets.
“They took their work very seriously,” King said. “They were checking other students grammar and accuracy, acting like editors.”
King said he's never surprised any more by what youngsters can do with technology, but he didn't expect to find middle school students covering the conference. “They were really great,” he said, adding that the students helped spread information about what was going on.
Maine Commissioner Stephen Bowen was another keynote speaker. Bowen liked some of the tweets so much, he re-tweeted them (forwarded them to others). “He was tweeting about the tweeting,” Auburn Middle School technology integrator Carl Bucciantini said.
Bowen has invited the Auburn student tweeters to tweet at an upcoming statewide technology in education conference in May.
To assemble the tweeting team, Bucciantini said teachers "asked for students who could afford to miss school, who could glean information and write at the same time,” Bucciantini said.
Most of the 21 tweeted. Two, Trevor Laliberte and Sydnee Harris, were editors, checking for quality and accuracy. Laliberte, 13, a self-proclaimed “grammar Nazi,” reminded students “to put in your hashtag.” (That makes messages easier for others to follow.)
Other students were there for technical support. At first the plan was to tweet every five to six minutes during the conference. “We ended up sending tweets even faster,” Laliberte said. “We were following along, getting into it. It was constant tweet after tweet.” By the end of the three days they had sent out 797 tweets.
Outside Auburn, many followed the twitter feed. In Bangor the Maine Learning Technology Institute (MLTI is part of the Maine Department of Education) was holding training for teachers about how twitter can be used in classrooms.
“They said, 'We have your tweets up on our screen. We're watching,'” Bucciantini said.
Faduma Muse, 12, tweeted a session about curriculum, theory and assessment. It was her first conference. “It was a really good experience for me, a 12-year-old kid who went to a conference and had to tweet,” she said.
Donny Peterson said covering the conference will help him in the class. It sharpened his listening skills.
“After this experience of paying attention, I can listen better,” Peterson said.
Bucciantini said he's proud and amazed by what his students did. Their coverage was “professional quality stuff.”
His takeaway, Bucciantini said, is if you give students a challenge, the skills and training, “then let them lose, they will do great things.”
Auburn Middle School tweeting staff
Below are members of a tweeting team from Auburn Middle School who covered by tweeting the iPad national conference Nov. 16-18 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Students sent out tweets about what was going on at the conference in live time. They also wrote stories about the conference for their online school newspaper, "The Falcon News," www.amsfalconnews.com. The quality of their tweets impressed Maine Commissioner Stephen Bowman and former Gov. Angus King.
Tweeters: Michal Cwik, Isaac Elliott, Katie Ferrara, Sophie Messina, Kameron Morin, Alina Morneau, Cooper Mowry, Faduma Muse, Donnie Peterson, Vivian Pham, Skylar Rubocki, Michael Staples and Emma Wood.
Tweet editors: Sydnee Harris and Trevor Laliberte.
Tweet technicians: Alex Breton, Zach Copland, Jean David Hurd, Gareth Robinson and Ezra Thomas.
All of the above are students at the Auburn Middle School, most are ages 12 or 13.
To learn about Twitter: http://twitter.com/about