Summarizing the School Year Using Video and Social Media

Our project started off very simply, with members of our communications team asking “what would it look like if we put together a film featuring a video clip from every school day in our district?”

From there, the idea for “One Second of Every Day in the Ritenour School District” was born. The concept of the video was simple – compile at least one second of video from something happening in our district for all 180 school days. The end product turned out to be an amazing look at our entire school year in less than three minutes.

We began the process by creating a planning calendar, ensuring that we captured every facet of our district. We also wanted to showcase the beauty of each of the four seasons here in Missouri. The video also features a few scenes following the civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo. in November (Ritenour is located just a few miles away), which was something that we did not include in our plans – but ended up being a powerful part of the piece.

We officially released the video at the end of the last day of school on June 3, 2015. Our first “official” screening was to more than 100 community members during a presentation that night. We also sent the link via email and text message to our staff and families, and we included it on all of our social media channels.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response from our staff, students and community.

Our employees sent us dozens of messages. Many said they felt a deeper connection to the district.

“This video has me in tears. So moving! So beautiful! So touching!” said one of our special education teachers. “I am beginning my 29th year with the Ritenour family and could not be more proud.”

“Thank you! Wow! Your video made me cry. Beautiful!” noted another one of our teachers.

What we discovered through the process was the continued positive connection we could make with our employees, students and community through video.

The video had more than 260 likes, 62 shares and 24 positive comments from our Facebook audience of more than 4,000 people. The post reach was nearly 16,000 people. It has the most favorites and re-tweets ever on our Twitter page and received more views on YouTube than any other video we posted this school year.

Become a Twitter Power User and Ditch the Official Twitter App

If you’re a social media power user, you know that the most efficient way to monitor Twitter is by organizing those you follow into Twitter lists.You might also keep track of custom searches, including hashtags, via a columns-based interface like the Tweetdeck website.

I’ve noticed, however, when I’m on the go and using my phone to monitor the twittersphere, the official Twitter app just doesn’t cut it. Lists and custom searches aren’t easily accessible.

If you want to tweet smarter and have easy access to lists and custom searches, try these apps instead:

For Android:

Falcon Pro 3

Pros: This app is fast, highly customizable, and has one of the most intuitive and clean interfaces I’ve ever seen. Photos and images show up big and bright within each timeline. Swipe in from the left side of the screen for a “notification inbox” that shows you when you have new followers or interactions (retweets, favorites, mentions, etc.). Swipe from the right to edit your custom columns for lists and searches:

This app is so good, that just days ago the developer announced he was hired by Twitter. Let’s hope some of these great features are eventually integrated into the official app for both Android and iPhone.

Cons: None, except that you’ll have to purchase the app for full functionality. Falcon Pro 3 is free to try with demo lists, and a few dollars to use the full version.

For both Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad):


Pros: Like its desktop browser counterpart, the free Hootsuite mobile app gives you access to both Twitter and Facebook, lets you schedule posts, and allows you to set up custom “streams,” including lists and searches:

Cons: One major downside is that tweeted images don’t show up within the streams. The new “retweet with comment” feature isn’t integrated. Also, some features (like embedding images in your tweets) are only available to those who subscribe to Hootsuite Pro.


Pros: This is also one of the very few apps that lets you set up custom columns, which Janetter calls “bookmarks”:

Cons: The new “retweet with comment” feature hasn’t been integrated yet. The ad-free Pro version is $4.99.

What Twitter app do you use? What features are most important and why? Chime in below!

Adapting Videos to Social Media

For almost a decade, video has been an important tool in my team’s communication toolbox. For the last five years, we’ve shared that video on our social media platforms, posting on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Starting with this school year, we’re adapting the way we build our video programming to fit our social media plan.

In addition to sharing the stories we tell about making a difference in students’ lives, we’re creating  “Park Hill Moment” sight-and-sound videos that give our stakeholders a glimpse into the great things happening every day in our classrooms.

We can turn these videos around quickly, which allows us to post them the day of the event, in most cases. This immediacy is important in successful social media.

We started this summer, with a “Park Hill Moment” about teachers getting externship experience in local businesses to bring back to our classrooms.

We also produced a “Park Hill Moment” with the highlights from our all-staff convocation.

These videos are already getting high numbers of views and engagement.

How have you changed your videos to fit the needs of social media?

A little help from my friends

Social media is a great tool for making news go viral. But what if you need that to happen overnight?

Recently my ever-spontaneous superintendent decided –- at the 11th hour — to craft an op-ed piece advocating for more school funding. He wanted his message to go out statewide immediately, making a big splash in the last two weeks of our state’s legislative session.

First, I anchored the op-ed to our district website and sent it to the daily newspaper at the state capital. Then I called on a few friends!

Here are some partners who helped make the message go viral by sharing my post on Facebook, Twitter and key organization websites:
• The state NSPRA chapter (Thanks, OSPRA!)
• The state school boards association
• The state teachers’ union
• State PTA leaders
• Friends who are school advocates
• The state school business professionals association
• The state classified union
• School advocacy groups

For maximum effectiveness, include one or two photos to accompany the message, and send your partners a list of suggested hashtags appropriate to your target audiences.

How well did it work? Over the course of a week, the piece did go viral for over a week! All thanks to a little help from my friends. The next time they call me for help, I owe them big time.

Connect With Colleagues on #K12PRchat

teachers-noncertIf you aren’t personally on Twitter, you most certainly have colleagues in your district who use it for professional development. From renowned authors and speakers to fellow teachers and administrators, Twitter offers educators unprecedented access to a dynamic professional development network.

In fact, a Twitter executive reported last year that, of the half billion tweets that post each day, 4.2 million are related to education.

And while school communicators have been connecting individually on Twitter for some time, a new Twitter chat offers targeted professional development and networking, from the convenience of a computer, smartphone or tablet. Every other Tuesday evening, #K12PRchat will bring together school communicators from across North America for one hour to share and learn.

If you’re new to Twitter chats or Twitter in general, this is a perfect chance to get your feet wet. A Twitter chat is a group conversation that is designated by a unique hashtag — in this case, #K12PRchat. Moderators ask questions, and participants tweet answers to those questions, using the hashtag. Click here for more background on Twitter chats and great tips to get the most out of the conversation.

The value of a Twitter chat is clear: The first #K12PRchat took place on Tuesday, and you can view all the tweets with the hashtag here. You don’t even need a Twitter account to read the encouragement and great content that your colleagues are sharing. (You do need an account to participate in the discussion.)

Make plans now to join or watch the next #K12PRchat, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Future chats will take place at the same time, every other Tuesday. Take this chance to engage and share — your professional learning has never been more accessible!


Expand Your Text and Free Your Mind


Other contributors to this blog have covered different tools that are available to help manage the social media workload: monitoring apps, scheduling apps, grammar-checking apps and on and on. No doubt, there wouldn’t be nearly as much content being generated and shared if all the work had to be done manually.

Well, here’s another addition to the tip jar . . . text expansion.

Text expansion tools are plug-ins and built-in utilities that save you the time and hassle of typing the same letters over and over. In my case, I probably use my district’s name, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, at least a dozen times a day. But, I rarely enter that phrase by keying it in completely.

When I’m creating a document in Word, the software automatically kicks in after four letters (F-r-a-n) and prompts me to “Press ENTER to Insert” the complete phrase. That’s because I use AutoComplete to help out with that repetitive task. There’s a good tutorial on how to set up AutoComplete for Word on the eHow site.

That’s great if you spend all of your day in Word. What’s even better, though, is having the ability to use text expansion across all of your work. An example is the built-in text expansion possibilities offered by Apple for OS X and iOS devices. You can set up the Keyboard Shortcuts utility to be synced across iCloud such that all of your text expansion shortcuts are available to you whether you’re working at your desk, on your iPad or on your iPhone. Then, whether you’re creating a document, texting or filling out a form, text expansion is at your beck and call.

If you’re in the Windows world, there are many options available (both free and paid). Here are just a few that you can look into:

  • PhraseExpress
  • Texter
  • Breevy

If you have other text expansion tips, be sure to comment on those and share your experiences.

photo credit: monique’s typewriter via photopin (license)

Modern day press clippings made easy

You may still have a photo album or four sitting around your office holding press clippings from your early days on the job; but nowadays, with online news, social media, bloggers, and more, it can be difficult to maintain a thorough collection of the news circulating about your district.

Enter Storify. Storify is an online tool used to gather, save and share online content. I relied on it first in grad school to collect online research on story topics and to monitor current stories about what I thought was a novel story idea. Now, I use it as my online press clippings album for what is actually put in print about my district.

Within Storify, you can set up feeds, or “stories,” by collecting and organizing various media from various platforms – from Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to Getty Images, Google Plus and Flickr. You can search news feeds, images, even set up RSS feeds. You can organize by date, topic or media type – it’s all up to you. You can make your “stories” private or share them with the public. You can even share links to collections to show others all the media on a particular issue or accomplishment.

If, like me, you have Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts set up, you can easily enable the Storify Chrome Extensions and your press clipping file is now just a click (or share) away.

Of course, as a former journalist, I’m still fond of starting my day with the Metro section in hand. But now, I can save myself from the missed articles, inky fingerprints and tape, glue and photo books all over my office. Now I may never have to take a pair of scissors to a newspaper again!

What do you think? Do you have a way of keeping track of media reported about your district? Share your tools or tips with us!