student voice

Why is the Social Media Conversation So Negative?

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Digital Citizenship EmulationAfter reading the blog post, “8 Ways Kids Are Using Instagram to Bully,” I remain perplexed as to why the conversation revolving around social media and its implications on the lives of teens remains a negative one. While the author’s citations of past incidents may be true, they provide no service whatsoever to counteracting cyber bullying, however, only perpetuate negative stereotypes surrounding the world of social media. Rather than provide a solution or effect positive change to the cited malicious behavior, the author participates in the culture of shaming social media: an action that only makes the internet space less safe for teens.

As I explain in my (Spanish) EdCamp Global Classroom Presentation, “Buscame por Google, Se Reto” (Google Me, I Dare You), degrading social media promotes negative use. In psychology, this phenomenon is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy- if you have a negative attitude, negativity will occur. Similarly, by constantly lecturing students, parents, and teachers about the harms of social platforms, students develop negative schemas for social media and learn to associate its use with malicious behavior. Therefore, I dare to ask: why is the conversation never positive?

Digital Citizenship SummitWell, that is quickly changing by thought-leaders eagerly following the footsteps of Dr. Marialice Curran. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Curran virtually several times, simultaneously creating a positive digital footprint as well as demonstrating 21st century interview skills as I hosted her on the Burlington High School’s live Google Hangout webinar, Help Desk Live. The only times I have met Dr. Curran face-to-face were at the nation’s first Digital Citizenship Summit, and again when she invited me to present at the first international Digital Citizenship Summit in England. In fact, the sole reason Dr. Curran and I met was because of my positive use of social media. After following my work avidly on Twitter and About.me, Dr. Curran was eager to speak with me and include student voice in her work with the DigCitSummits. As a direct result of leveraging social media to my professional advantage, through serving as a contributing author to the BHS Help Desk blog, Teachers With Apps, and my own blog, I have gained a digital reach of over 200,000 viewers in over 160 countries across 6 continents (82% of the globe), as well as been invited to speak in 4 countries across 3 continents, interning in digital content for EdTechTeacher, and even blogging for brands as renowned as Rosetta Stone.

Clearly my experience leveraging social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog) is taboo. But– dare I question the status quo again– why does it have to be? If we collectively divorce from the rhetoric of social media’s explicitly harmful nature, then we embrace the challenge to promote positive social media use in schools. Students can learn to leverage Twitter to build a global community of learners, use YouTube to share their content, connect with professionals via LinkedIn, and assert their voice through blogging. Through education, demonstration, and proactive conversation we can abolish cyber bullying- but we must first abolish our negative mentality.

On Being a Coca-Cola Scholarship Semi-Finalist

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Timmy Sullivan Coca-Cola Scholarship

A little over a month ago, I received the incredible news that I moved on to the semi-final round of the Coca-Cola Scholarship! In its 27th year, the Coca-Cola Scholarship generously awards $20,000 scholarships to 150 deserving high school seniors across the United States. Beyond the enormous amount of scholarship, Coca-Cola scholars are indoctrinated into a community of prestigious individuals, forming life-long relationships with young entrepreneurs, performers, researchers, visionaries and dreamers, all with the power to change the world.

The reason I am so excited about moving forward in the scholarship is not just because I have been distinguished among over 87,000 applicants, but because of the potential a brand as renowned as Coca-Cola has seen in me. My efforts to reform public education, to bring student voice to global attention, and to promote digital citizenship have not gone unnoticed; rather, they are receiving an investment from the moguls of entrepreneurship, marketing, branding, and customer satisfaction.

For my birthday last year, one of my best friends bought me a book on the history of Coca-Cola’s marketing. Opening up this treasure was like uncovering hidden secrets, long forgotten but forever set in stone. In the book, an idea was presented that forever changed my outlook on Coke’s brand:

“Coca-Cola is not about the drink; it has never been about the drink. It is about making people happy.”

I began to notice just how happy Coca-Cola makes people- it is everywhere! During my exchange trip to Spain, my host family would ornament our dinner table with glasses of Coca-Cola. While in Granada, I stumbled across several Coca-Cola bars, serving refreshing drinks to tourists. Even yesterday, during a conversation about the scholarship with DigCitSummit co-founder Dr. Marialice Curran, she started singing “¡Una Coca-Cola y un sonrisa!”

To be recognized for my contribution to social change and educational reform by a world-renowned brand synonymous with happiness is an honor.

As I edit my application in preparation for the upcoming deadline, I decided to enjoy a classic bottle of Coca-Cola, allowing my mind to wander back to the origins of Coke. Once upon a time, this brand was just an idea by someone with enough passion to pursue it endlessly. After unrelenting dedication, unparalleled branding and marketing, and a community strong enough to bring Coca-Cola to every corner of the world, the team behind Coke is inspiring and empowering a new generation of young entrepreneurs with the same passion. I sit back, honored, and read over my application with “a Coca-Cola and a smile.”

Timmy Sullivan Coca-Cola Scholarship

 

Help Bring Students to #DigCitSummitUK !

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After being the first student speaker at the inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit, I am excited to announce that I have been invited to present at the first international digcitsummit at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2016.

#DigCitSummitUK has been making some incredible waves, proving that when you work together on a common goal, greatness happens. Last week we had a thunderclap that made over 600,000 Twitter impressions, and we are building even more momentum to get the event trending on Twitter! Not only are we making a remarkable digital impact, but we are working on the ground as well. So far, over 7 unique countries from 3 different continents will be represented at the event. #DigCitSummitUK has truly evolved into an inspiring global event working to facilitate conversation on safe, savvy, and ethical use of social media for students. Read the rest of this entry »

My Very First TEDx Talk: It’s MY Education!

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It’s MY Education!

Timmy SullivanOn March 23, 2015, Burlington High School was the site of the first ever TEDxYouth@BHS TEDx conference. An event co-created by Nikhil Thakkar and Jenn Scheffer, the TEDxYouth@BHS conference brought students, educators, and professional speakers from across the country to present their ideas worth spreading.

In my talk, “It’s MY Education,” I discuss the need for public education reform, the changing role of today’s educator, and the benefits of creating personalized learning experiences for students. Sharing my passion for languages, culture, and communication, advocate for integrating technology across the curriculum to expand the walls of the classroom and to further personalize the learning experience.

My talk can be found in the YouTube embed below, as well as the manuscript, just below the video. Feedback, as always, is welcome!

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Presenting at the First National Digital Citizenship Summit

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Digital Citizenship SummitDigital Citizenship Best Practices for College and Career Ready Students:

An Inside Look at the Digital Citizenship Summit

Having just arrived home from presenting at the nation’s first Digital Citizenship Summit, I am eager to share the highlights of today’s event. Unfortunately, I arrived a few hours late to the summit, as I was taking SAT Subject tests this morning. I did, therefore, miss the opening ceremonies and keynote. No amount of standardized testing, however, could keep me from representing student voice at the conference! Though I arrived late, I was still fortunate enough to meet several ed-tech superstars, as well as watch the amazing Sarah Thomas entertain us with her drone. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s talk about DigCit

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Last Friday, I was privileged enough to pilot season 3 of the BHS Help Desk’s Google Hangout news network, Help Desk Live. Joining me in the conversation were two of the nation’s pioneers and leading figures in digital citizenship, Dr. Marialice Curran and Dr. Mike Ribble. Both Marialice, co-founder of the nation’s first Digital Citizenship Summit, and Mike, published author of Raising a Digital Child and Digital Citizenship in Schools, were eager to talk about the upcoming “DigCit” Summit, as well as discuss how to get students, teachers, and parents involved in the process of digital branding. I want to extend a thank you to both Marialice and Mike for agreeing to our interview, as well as for their contribution to students’ success. The interview is embedded below:

 

 

Interested in learning more about digital citizenship? How about attending the conference on October 3rd? Maybe you want to participate in the conversation by using #digcit on Twitter. Better yet, facilitate the discussion with your students and see what digital citizenship means to them.

Hello iOS 9

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Whenever a new iOS update rolls around, especially a major one such as iOS 9, 1:1 districts get very excited. With a plethora of students, educators, and Apple users posting about the academic benefits of the new update, I decided to take a more personal approach as to how iOS 9 will influence my day-to-day.

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