Social Networking for Teaching and Learning — November 1, 2015

Social Networking for Teaching and Learning

Social media is a big part of our student’s lives.  They want to feel connected with the world and share everything that they are doing.  So why don’t teachers utilize social media in the classroom?  If this is central to our student’s lives outside of schools, it would be easy for them to transfer these skills to the classroom.  I have to admit, I was hesitant to incorporate social media and networking tools into my classroom.  I felt like it was a big responsibility as a new teacher to take this on and ensure student safety.  But incorporating digital citizenship lessons, encouraging internet safety, and  modeling proper social media use, I am now more confident in integrating these tools into my classroom.  I have started with blogs and Diigo, but through my research in this project I can see the power of Twitter, Facebook, Padlet, Skype, and more.  I also have found even more ideas for tools I am already using.

I used PearlTrees to curate and annotate my materials, and separated my findings under their specific tool.

social-media-tools

Social Media Tools for the History Classroom – Key Learnings

BackChannels or chat rooms to use during a lecture, video, or discussion give voice to students.  I can see how backchannels can enhance a movie shown in class.  Students can carry on a student led discussion while watching a movie.  For example, students watch Cinderella Man to learn more about the Great Depression, they could discuss the historical elements they find using something like Today’s Meet.

Twitter is a great tool for the classroom that many students are already using outside the classroom.  I really like the idea of a Twitter essay.  This will force students to find the most central idea of a topic to share with their classmates.  I also think it is great that there is a “peer review” concept to this.  It not only gets the students sharing, but also using social media to collaborate and give feedback.

I found a variety of ways to use Facebook in the classroom.  The use of fan pages and event pages is a great interactive activity for students.  Using Facebook as a timeline and place to collaborate with experts and other schools is something that is interesting and exciting for students.  I also think creating fan pages and having a “virtual salon” is a great way for students to uses 21st century skills and immerse themselves in the content area.

Diigo has been a huge addition to my classroom.  I have had my students share articles and comment on each others annotations, starting discussions that dive deeper into the article and content.  What I learned from the article on found on Diigo, is the use of the forum within Diigo groups.  This is a feature I have not tried yet, but can see how students can start a discussion, share a thought, ask a question and more.

Skype is a tool I have not used in my two years of teaching, but would like to begin using more.  Skype allows for conversations with experts, students, authors, survivors, all over the world.  It provides students to connect and ask questions they would normally have left unanswered.  The articles I clipped on Skype explain the power connecting, once with a survivor of the Holocaust, and once with a similar class in a different country.  Both experiences offered different perspectives for the students, beyond the classroom walls.

Blogging is an important piece of digital literacy, which also allows for student connections and sharing.  The projects I found helped students connect with authors, teachers, parents, and classmates.  The authentic audience, beyond the teacher, motivated the students to write more effectively and ask deeper questions.  I also see blogging as a way for students who may be timid or nervous to share in class, to voice their ideas and ask questions.

All of these tools can have immediate impact in the classroom.  Viewing all of these great ideas has helped me plan my lessons for this week using blogs and Twitter.  It is important to make sure the tool is being used to enhance and optimize the classroom experience and motivate students to grow as learners, preparing them as 21st century learners.

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Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development — October 19, 2015

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development

Teachers are always looking for new ideas or places to share their own.  Often these opportunities only present themselves a few times a year during professional development days or at faculty meetings.  Technology and the internet allow for this to happen everyday, at any hour.  By using Twitter, blogs, Google Communities and more, teachers are now able to connect instantly for real time feedback and professional development.  In the past 3 weeks I have participated in 4 Twitter chats and 4 live webinars.  I was able to learn, share, and collaborate on multiple different topics.  I participated on topics I had never used in my classroom and ones that I use regularly.  It was a bit intimidating at first, especially in the Twitter chats which move very quickly.

Twitter Chats –

‪#‎engsschat‬ – This chat usually involves secondary english and social studies teachers.  The conversation the night I joined, revolved around using genius hour in the classroom. I have always wanted to provide students time to share their interests and show their personality, but have not incorporated something like genius hour into my classroom yet. The educators involved in this chat provided great insights into what a genius hour project might look like, as well as, help people new to this idea problem solve. One participant mentioned how she uses a genius hour model every Friday with her students. Another educator explained how she has students share their genius hour projects in a talk show format. I have already began creating my next unit building off of her idea! I was able to participate myself by sharing ideas for how I could use genius hour in my curriculum, as well as sharing some of my reservations for this idea. I was happy to see I was not alone in wondering how to fit such a great idea into the curriculum and welcomed all of the suggestions from those who have used it. This was a great chat that helped further my interest in online PD and also helped me build my PLN. I am looking forward to participating again this week.

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‪#‎gafechat‬ – This chat is for Google Apps for Education and this particular week was on Blogging! I was excited to be a part of this chat because I have recently introduced my students to blogger. Since I am in the beginning stages with this integration, I was eager to hear ideas to use. A great question was about the kids who may not find writing as their best avenue for expressing ideas. Even though I allow choice for student projects, I hadn’t thought about “choice” in the format students were blogging. This was a great idea that helped spark some new ideas for my classroom. Overall, it was a great chat and I was able to connect with many educators who are also using blogs in their classroom. My hope is to find a class to “share” my kids blogs with! Great for authentic audience.

#gafechat

‪#‎edtechchat‬  – This chat discussed digital citizenship. I was excited to be a part of this conversation since my school is trying to set up some standards for this. There was a great conversation about having digital citizenship as a its own class, or making it weave into our current curriculum. In addition, people wondered about how it could be assessed. There were great ideas about incorporating digital citizenship standards into already created rubrics.  Since this chat, I was a part of a tech summit at my school.  I was able to share some ideas from the chat and begin the discussion around how different classes incorporate technology.  My hope is to help my school begin incorporating digital citizenship into our regular classroom routines.

#edtechchat

#inquirychat – This chat was on innovation.  It was a great chat with a lot of ideas.  Teachers explained ideas on how they innovate in their class and provided specific examples.  I was able to connect with a teacher about a new resources, Aurasma.  She sent me an email with her latest presentation to help me learn more about the tool and how she uses it in history class.  I left the chat with some great ideas that I have already incorporated into my current unit.

inquirychat

Webinars –

Primary Sources –  This was put on by Ed Web. This webinar shared some great ways to have students “unpack” difficult primary sources, which is a something many of my 8th graders have a tough time doing. I was happy to walk away with some great strategies I could use right away. I got a great idea of using putting a primary source into a Wordle and seeing which words are used the most. This could help the students generate questions or come to conclusion prior to reading the difficult texts. It could also identify important vocab terms to look up before reading. I already used this strategy and my kids took a lot of great ideas away.

Refreshing your PLN – This was put on by PBS Learning and the hosts provided a lot of great information on ways to connect. One teacher suggested a Google Community where teachers across her district shared technology successes (and even failures). This allowed the teachers to learn from each other and gain valuable feedback. It helps keep teachers in different schools connected.

Primary Sources and PLN

Build Some Content!  Virtual Worlds – This webinar was provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  I have no real experience with virtual worlds, so this was my first exposure to the topic.  Carolyn Lowe shared her personal virtual space and explained how she has set it up for teachers and students to use.  You could essentially rent virtual classroom spaces.  These classrooms were in space, in the forest, underwater, etc.  Carolyn also explained how students could give their presentations in these spaces as well.  She provided many resources and ideas for getting started.

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The Mindset of a Maker Education – This webinar was also provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  Our professor, Jackie Gerstein led the webinar.  This was the most interactive webinar I had participated in.  It gave a chance to reflect on my current practices and really envision how I can incorporate a maker mindset in my classroom.  The visuals and ThingLinks were helpful in gaining a better understanding of how students can be “makers.”  The science teacher on my team and I work very closely and I was excited to share all of the resources with her.  We have had several discussions on how we can give the students more time to create and lead their learning, as well as, make it relevant to both of our courses.

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All of these chats and webinars were informative and have helped me grow as a teacher.  I am in only my second year as a teacher and I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve my classroom.  Participants were very welcoming and supportive.  I was encouraged to continue participating and asked clarifying questions.  I was excited after each chat and webinar to see my PLN grow and even begin collaborating with them outside of chats.  Currently, I am participating in the TEAM beginning teacher program in Connecticut.  It requires me to set goals, attend pd, review resources, and implement changes in my classroom.  I plan on finding webinars and Twitter chats to help me in this process.

 

 

 

Twitter for Professional Development — September 14, 2015

Twitter for Professional Development

Twitter_icon

Twitter is a great resource.  It can be accessed from many devices and anywhere with a connection to the internet.  This makes it a great tool for professional development.  It provides ease of access, continuous enrichment, instant feedback, and inspiring ideas.  In just the few weeks I have found myself back on Twitter, I have already found a wealth of resources to begin using in my classroom.

By following #sschat, I am able to learn about different ideas to use in the social studies classroom.   For example, the most recent chat centered on upcoming Constitution Day.  As an American history teacher, this was extremely relevant and helpful!  Professionals in the discussion shared ideas for investigating how current events relate to the Constitution, or exploring the Constitution from different points of views to learn more about political parties.

While scrolling through my #edtech column, I came across a great resource on getting students to innovate.  Mia MacMeekin made an infographic with 27 ways to inspire students to innovate.   I plan to use this to help my students understand what it means to innovate and challenge them to use these ideas throughout our next unit.

#gafe led me to a great resources on GAFE-friendly tools for evidence based writing in social studies.  The author discusses the Imagine Easy Scholar extension that helps students through their research process!  I also found out about a chat tomorrow on Creating Digital Awareness.  Looking forward to learning more about technology integration and tools!

My district has a partnership with Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.  We attend several PD’s each year and have a consultant visit our schools.  Using #tcrwp allows me to stay up to date with TC’s latest ideas, and also connect with other educators who use their protocols and ideas.  Scrolling through my TweetDeck led me to find some great ideas for mentor texts in the middle school writing workshop.

I have been working towards a flipped classroom and leading students to drive their learning by using technology.  I added the #elearning column to my TweetDeck.  I was happy to find some great ideas right away.  One article discussed the use of story telling when explaining new concepts.  This is something that I have gotten away from in the past couple of years, but am now inspired to begin adding this back to my classroom.  I am thinking that adding short animated stories as part of the flip videos my students can access will be a great addition.

In just a few short weeks, Twitter has transformed my classroom.  I have found great new resources and ideas that I have already began using.  While I have not participated in a chat yet, I am looking forward to participating and receiving instant feedback from professionals all over the world.  I think that Twitter is a great way to participate in professional development.  Whether it is through an organized chat, by discovering new resources, or by getting feedback on a resource you shared, Twitter allows for “just-in-time” pd that can transform the classroom!

EDTECH 543: Creative Expression — September 12, 2015

EDTECH 543: Creative Expression

This module helped me understand the importance and effectiveness of being a connected educator. Since graduating college, I have been leery of social networks, fearing that students may find me online, or job prospects may disagree with a post.  But this module’s resources showed me that my growth as an educator is dependent on my ability to stay connected and continuously learn.  I no longer need to wait for my districts next professional development day to learn new ideas and design new learning experiences for my students.

I used Piktochart for my Creative Expression.  My image includes four parts:  Personal Learning Networks, Communities of Practice, Connectivism, and the educator/user.  Each of these parts are separate pieces that come together to create new opportunities, new learning, and new resources.  The “puzzled educator” would represent someone who may be new to connected learning, or someone who is searching for answers or feedback.  It is up to them to become a connected educator.

For the Personal Learning Network puzzle piece, I used some social media icons to represent ways to form your PLN and as places to guide your new learning.  They surround a wireless symbol showing how they are all connected.  Daniel Mackley describes PLNs as “deliberately formed networks of people and resources capable of guiding our independent learning goals and professional development needs.”  Using resources, such as Twitter, Blogger, Google Plus, etc., educators and all professionals can form connections with people from all over.  Those connections can be used to gain ideas, feedback, and spark conversations.

Another aspect of connected learning, are Communities of Practice.  These allow for more specific focuses and interests.  My image is of people connected surrounding a light bulb.  This represents COPs which are groups of people who share similar interests or passions who come together to share ideas.  They join together and build relationships to learn from each other.  The COPs share experiences, ideas, tools, and feedback to furher their own knowledge and expand their practice.  These communities can be formed in person, but can also be formed through your social media sources.  For example, my district has an “Ellington Teachers” group on Twitter.  We are able to share ideas, share our students’ experiences, and build off of others ideas, even though we are not all in the same schools.

The final puzzle piece, displays Connectivism.  I used the image of a world with an Ethernet cable connection in it exemplifying how connections can be made throughout the world.  Connectivism is based on the idea that knowledge and resources are constantly changing.  Staying connected is essential in the digital age of learning.  George Siemens explains learning as being connected to information sources and “continually acquiring new information.”  Being able to connect with people and resources around the world are essential to concept of connectivism

Putting the pieces together, allows educators or any professional to participate in continuous learning.  The ability to stay “up to date” and gain instant feedback can be essential in professional development.  We no longer need to wait for our next professional development day, we can learn on our couch, while traveling, at any time or in any place!


Putting the Pieces Together

References

Mackley, D. (2014, May 13). What is a Personal Learning Network/Environment? Retrieved from https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/moodle/2014/05/13/what-is-a-personal-learning-network/

Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015, April 15).Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/