Final Reflection: Social Network Learning — December 5, 2015

Final Reflection: Social Network Learning

I really enjoyed all of the new tools and knowledge I gained from Ed Tech 543: Social Network learning.  Prior to this course, I saw social media tools as “taboo.”  I had used Twitter and Facebook throughout high school and college, but stopped posting once I began applying for jobs.  It wasn’t until this course that I realized the benefits of social networking tools for both my professional development and for my students.  I started off the course by creating a new Twitter strictly for professional use and am so happy I did so.  I started with a clean slate and am following people and resources that have some great insights into education.  I have found Twitter to be a great way to connect with educators across the country and the world.  I did not realize the importance of being a connected educator until this course.  Twitter helped me build my PLN, which will be important as I move through my master’s and potentially a doctorate program in the future.  The Twitter chats, although daunting at first, were a great way to build my PLN and validate some techniques I use in my classroom.  While on Twitter, I also found out about an opportunity to write a blog post for Imagine Easy and was able to publish my first post last week on Blended discussions in the Social Studies Classroom.  It was exciting to find more ways to share and receive feedback, outside of my school and district.

I also found Diigo to be a great tool.  I had never heard of social bookmarking until this course and had no idea how beneficial it could be.  I use it in my classroom regularly to have students share and annotate resources.  They can post helpful sources to our classroom page and comment on each other’s sticky notes.  It has sparked awesome conversations between my students.  I also set up a Diigo page for teachers at my school to share resources.  We are starting student led conferences this year and our Diigo group has been a great way to share resources to gain a better understanding of this process.  I recently ran a professional development session sharing how to use Diigo for teachers in my district.

Our content curation module was very interesting.  This was another new concept to me and helped me take a look at several new tools.  I tried out several different tools before stumbling upon PearlTrees.  I found it to be very user friendly and I was able to customize and annotate, which was a feature I was looking for.  I think that PearlTrees is a great way for me to curate materials for other educators to share on my blog and Twitter, or in PD sessions in my district.  During this unit, I thought of some ways for my students to curate materials.  We are coming up on our unit the Constitution, and I want the students to curate current events on the Constitution in Action.  During my Social Network mini unit, Courtney Kaul introduced me to LiveBinders and I think it will be great to use in this unit.  I am excited to have my students curate materials and collaborate with each other.  

I found our blog posts to be a great way to reflect on each module and synthesize all of the information we learned.  I was able to come to conclusions and think of ways to incorporate what we had learned into my professional development and my classroom.  I also plan to use my blog for more than just my coursework at Boise State.  I hope to use it as a place to share what I am doing in my classroom, gain valuable feedback, and collaborate with others.  

Overall, I found this course to be extremely beneficial.  I learned about awesome social networking tools that will benefit me as I move career forward and also will benefit my students!  This course helped me understand the importance of maintaining a positive digital footprint and provided me with the tools and resources to do so.  I am excited for the possibilities being a connected educator can lead me.  

Blog Assessment
I think that my blog posts were thorough and met the requirements for each assignment.  I was able to analyze and reflect on each module, as well as, make conclusions as to how I could use each module outside of Boise State.  I believe I can improve by organize each individual blog post better.  I included a lot of information in each blog post, but it might have helped my readers if there were sub-headings, links, etc. I also think that I should have sent my blog posts out via Twitter more often to receive more feedback on my posts.  After reviewing and reflecting on my blog posts for this course, I believe that I scored a 73 out of 75.

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 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.