more of that Twitter stuff

The first tweet I came across was one that talks about how to leave room for innovation and creativity in the classroom. I think this is incredibly important to other educators because more and more schools are cutting out the classes that promote students’ creativity such as art, band, etc., and I firmly believe that’s not the right thing to do. But since I have no control over the classes that my future school will provide, I can at least promote as much creativity in my own class as possible, and other educators can do the same. The article mentions certain tips that us as educators can do in order to make our classes and projects more innovative and problem-based. It also has a neat video of a google hangout between educators discussing how creativity is exemplified in their respective classrooms.

Should teachers be using social media in the classroom? This topic seems to be creating a lot of conversation recently. I think most educators have come to agreement that technology should be used in classrooms because it is vital for today’s generation to use technology in the classroom, but there’s still that grey zone of whether or not that includes social media in the classroom. This article is great for teachers who are on the fence about using social media in the classroom. It provides a list of 12 ways to use it safely and successfully in the classroom, along with information about social media myths and relevance. A lot of teachers nowadays are concerned that if they bring social media into their classroom, their students will spend the whole class period facebooking and tweeting. One of my favorite things the article says is, “don’t mistake social media for socializing–they’re different.” I feel that is something that every educator should be aware of, that just because you’re using social media means you’re going to lose your students attention and focus. If done correctly, social media can be incredibly effective and useful in the classroom.

I’m really excited about this last tweet I found. It features a presentation with 70 different apps that will help educators teach to the Common Core Standards. I received an iPad as a gift to use in my future classroom, but every time I try to look for educational apps, I get sooo overwhelmed. This article makes the process a lot simpler and explains the apps much better. It’s obviously important for teachers to be teaching according to the Common Core Standards, and we’ve established that technology is required to adequately teach today’s students, so what better way to teach the standards than with technology! The article provides a selection of apps that are best for fluency, division, fractions, graphing, etc. And to make it even better, all the apps are free!

How to Use Technology in the Classroom For Dummies

ImageFor this weeks Personal Learning Network about using technology in the classroom, I wanted to focus on finding tweets that would help struggling teachers. Rather then finding tweets about general technologies in the classroom, I found tweets that had tips, tricks, and helpful hints for how to use tech in the classroom.

Screenshot 2014-03-09 16.21.22I found this first tweet incredibly relevant because we are in this time where a lot of our teachers are digital immigrants, and their students are digital natives, leading to a disconnect in the classroom. This tweet offers five helpful tips for those teachers who think they aren’t tech savvy and are unsure of how to use tech properly and efficiently in the classroom. In addition to benefitting other teachers, the article mentioned in this tweet will be very helpful for school administrators that are struggling with creating a tech efficient staff. The tip that I found most valuable is make it relevant! Both teachers and students suffer when technology is used just for the sake of saying it was used. There is nothing more frustrating than having a teacher try to integrate technology in the classroom and have it be entirely irrelevant to the subject matter. In order to keep the students intrigued and the teachers less stressed, the technology use must be relevant.
Screenshot 2014-03-09 16.21.38The next tweet I found features an article with 46 tips to saving time by using technology to teach. The thing I love about this article is that it offers its tips in a problem-solution format. I also love that it gives you multiple solutions for a problem, because we all know that the same techniques won’t work in every classroom. This article would be a great resource for a teacher to reference when they are having a hard time integrating technology into the classroom. The problem-solution set that I thought was most interesting was looking for apps. I have been in a lot of classrooms where there is a heavy use of iPads, and each classroom has a different array of apps. I received an iPad as a birthday gift, knowing it would be beneficial in my future classroom, and I have spent some time looking for and researching different apps, but the variety and amount of apps is so overwhelming and I imagine other teachers, especially the older teachers, feel the same.

Screenshot 2014-03-09 16.21.54This last tweet I found doesn’t necessarily fall into the same category as the other two, seeing as the article suggests a rather specific teaching tool, but it does offer a list of different helpful websites that I think would be really beneficial for other teachers. I chose this tweet because I liked the idea of using comics as a teaching tool, especially because I feel it isn’t used very much or to its full advantage. This article lists five different ideas/objectives that teachers could accomplish with the use of comics. As a kid, I remember having to write and illustrate my own comics, but it was never done with technology. I looked at a few of the comics generators that the article lists and they were so neat. This would be beneficial to other educators because it’s a new twist on an old concept that would help keep students engaged and excited about the material.

Tweet Like An Egyptian

 

In the documentary we watched for last week’s post, there was a woman who made a comment that in 2020, we won’t be considered literate without the ability to take in and critique media. I think that is a simple way to describe what it means to be a digital citizen of the 21st century. Since technology is so integral to our every day lives, it is imperative that we know how to use the Internet and social networking properly and to its full advantage. Nowadays people are always talking about how revolutionary social media has become and how it can be used to make a difference. But it really isn’t being used in the best way possible. We hear more stories about social media being used negatively like this, than we do about it being used positively like this.

I didn’t realize how important social media was in Egypt, or that people used it to organize such influential protests and gatherings. I remember hearing about the Internet and cellphone services being shut down in Egypt, but I didn’t know why or any other background information. After a little research, I found out they shut the Internet down because of the organizing going on via social networking. It’s amazing to think these young adults were able to make such an impact over the Internet that the government was intimidated enough to shut it down. The people in America need to learn from the actions of the people of Egypt because we could be doing so much more if we just used social media in a different way. We hear story after story about kids and teenagers using the Internet to cyber bully their peers, and many of these stories end tragically. How awesome would it be if we heard more stories about teenagers using social media to be activists and organize positive demonstrations?

In regards to schools being prepared to meet the needs of the digital citizen, I feel that as of now, our schools are not prepared to do so. As the article mentioned, the Internet is essentially a “rule-free, anything goes environment,” which makes it hard to use it properly in a classroom. In class last week we talked about how there aren’t rules and regulations for the Internet, and therefore people don’t know digital etiquette. People aren’t being taught to use the information available on the Internet to engage in society, politics, etc. Instead, they’re being taught to use it to follow their latest celebrity crush or to keep up with their friend’s gossip. Recently, there has been a larger emphasis on digital citizenship and the use of technology in the classroom, so I’m confident that in the near future our schools and classrooms will be well equipped with the appropriate tools and knowledge to meet the needs of a 21st century digital citizen. 

Tweet Tweet

Screenshot 2014-02-23 15.44.47

This week’s blog post is all about how useful the Twitter network can be for both students and educators. The first tweet I found features an article about an in-class activity to promote both the use of twitter and digital citizenship. I thought this article written by Drew, a 4th grade teacher, was incredibly unique and creative. He developed a way to educate 4th grades about the proper use of twitter and to get them excited about it. I think this would be beneficial to other educators because an analog twitter wall could be something they could use in their classroom. Also, the activity could be adapted for different age groups. For example, if high school teacher wanted to model this, instead of making an analog Twitter wall, they could use actual Twitter, much like Mike has done for our class.

Screenshot 2014-02-23 15.43.54

The second tweet I found is an article about an energy company who redefined the ways of presenting policy guidelines for social media in the form of a clever video. Yeah, this video doesn’t directly relate to education and social media in the classroom, but it’s definitely a video worth showing your students. For teachers who are just starting to incorporate social media in their classroom, this video would be a fun way to show their students the do’s and don’ts of online networking. Since social media is rapidly becoming a tool for educators, schools may be thinking about implementing a social media policy and this video is a great start. I wasn’t exactly sure what digital citizenship meant before reading this article and watching the video, but now I understand that it describes how people should act when using social media or digital technology.

Screenshot 2014-02-23 15.43.05

The last tweet I found features an article about how teachers can educate their students on digital citizenship, real-world problem solving, and global collaboration. I liked this article because it talks about how social media allows us to gather information from anywhere and build on it, and I think that’s an important idea to instill in my students. A lot of teachers are afraid of using social media in their classroom because they’re afraid their students will use it the wrong way or something, but this article guides teachers to show their students how to use it resourcefully and to be responsible digital citizens.

The Digital Natives and Immigrants

“If we teach today’s students like we did yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.”

The first institution that was discussed in the documentary was the Quest to Learn School, a charter school in New York. The curriculum of this school met all of the New York state standards for education, but did so with heavy use of technology. Every class at Quest to Learn uses technology in one way or the other. Their curriculum is game-based, which simply means they use gaming in all of their subjects. There is a general stigma that video games are bad for children and have a multitude of negative impacts. However, the Quest to Learn School feels as though video games are one of the best ways to motivate children and help them learn. All video games require problem solving and critical thinking in order to move on to the next level, and provide a quick and easy assessment of a student’s learning. If used correctly and with the right programs, video gaming in the classroom could be a fantastic way to get children excited to learn.

However, a lot of people in society have a problem with the use of video games and technology in the classroom. The parent’s of today’s students are mostly digital immigrants. They grew up in a world without technology and were able to learn just fine without iPads, smartboards, and video games, so they feel their children should be able to do so as well. But these students, digital natives, need technology in their education in order to be best prepared for the future. If we as teachers take away technology in the classroom and go back to the standard ways of staring at textbooks and writing notes for a solid 70 minute class period, we’re robbing these students of a successful future. We as teachers have a responsibility to integrate technology because technology is in the future. Students know how to use technology. Just because there’s a new technology out that we might be unsure of, we need to learn about it. Being a digital immigrant is no excuse to take away concepts and skills that students will need in the future.

Another program discussed in the documentary was the Digital Youth Network. This program began as an after school program that eventually developed into a part of the school’s curriculum. The Digital Youth Network focuses on fostering creativity through photography, music, graphic design, etc.. The DYN facility has a space for photo shoots, a recording studio, and computers with the latest and greatest design software. Their goal is to help student’s turn their interests into a passion, and provide them the tools to do so. A lot of school’s are beginning to take out their hands on and creative classes like photography and art, which is frustrating because those are the classes that some students love the most. It’s reassuring that there are institutions out there who still believe in the creativity of students.

Experts implore teachers to embrace today’s technology. This semester, our teachers range in age from newly graduated to forty years of teaching experience. This gap dramatically shows in the implementation of technology in their lesson plans. Some of them encourage laptops open in class, taking notes or following along. Other teachers do not allow laptops or phones at all during class time. This shows the drastic disconnect between digital natives and digital immigrants. The newly graduated teachers who allows us to use our computers in class are digital natives, just like us, because they grew up in a world where technology was frequently used. But the teachers who have 40 years of teaching experience are the digital immigrants who are afraid to use technology in the classroom.

By the time those of us currently in college obtain our teaching licenses, the face of classrooms will have changed completely from when we were in grade school. Schools are even claiming that by 2020, we will not seem literate if we do not adopt and efficiently utilize technological advances. Technology will also aid us future teachers in our endeavors to differentiate instruction. If someone were to ask us what our classroom’s will look like in three years, we could only give them a rough idea. Of course it will have a range of technologies like iPads, smartboards, computers with every learning program available, but since technology is ever changing and evolving, there could be some new latest and greatest technology when we have our own classrooms. There probably won’t be desks, but rather tables to foster group work and support. There probably won’t be many textbooks, if any at all, because all of them will be digital. But most importantly, our classroom will look like a place that students are excited to learn and explore new ideas.

By: Emily Carter, Taylor Quain, and Emily Sheridan

Opening The Right Doors.

I loved Temple Grandin’s TED talk. I’ve seen it before, and found it incredibly interesting. When I saw it for the first time a few years ago, I thought about Temple’s thoughts and ideas in relation to my cousin who has Asperger’s. I remember our family always worrying about how he was doing in school, and what would happen to him post graduation. Growing up I noticed it was hard for him to pick up on social cues and it was hard to have a conversation with him, but boy did he absolutely love GI Joes and construction equipment. He could tell you any fact or detail about either of those and the way his face lit up when he talked about them was unbelievable. I quickly learned that in order to build a relationship with him, I had to connect with him about the things he truly loved. So I would play GI Joes with him and I’d listen to him tell me all about the new excavator CAT came out with. Over time, his teachers learned this too. They learned how to integrate his likes into his lessons so that he was able to explore and learn new things. Now, he lives and functions completely independently, and any of my family’s prior worries are gone. So watching her talk a few years ago made me excited that other people were realizing this too, that in order to help these kids flourish, we have to use their fixations and how their minds work to motivate them.

Now, I’m in the Special Education program and am on track to becoming a teacher, so when I watched her talk this time, I listened to her as a future teacher. I thought about her ideas and suggestions as someone who will be working with students on the Autism spectrum some day and will have to adapt my lessons to best fit their needs. Since I grew up with someone with Autism, I have a small advantage simply because I have some idea how to connect with them and build a relationship. But at the same time, no two children with Autism are the same. And that fact is essential to the idea of a Universal Design for Learning and differentiating lesson plans. I will more than likely have a class full of students that think differently, some might be visual thinkers, while others might be pattern thinkers, and a few could be word thinkers. In order to provide all of my students with the best education, I’m going to have to adapt my lesson plans to fit their thinking and learning styles.

Temple’s whole talk relates to what we’ve been learning in most of our classes this semester. Particularly in regards to technology in the classroom because she said in her talk that we need to show these kids something interesting in order to light the spark, and software like Wolfram is a perfect example. Technology is such a useful way to reach different learners and thinkers because it has so many possibilities. The internet is essentially endless, and we have access to almost any program or software we could imagine. Also, Temple talks about how schools are taking out their hands-on classes like art or auto shop, and that’s negatively impacting students. Students need hands-on learning to help their imagination grow and become more creative. And some students just need something visual and physical to grasp the concept, sometimes words just aren’t enough.

Something that really stood out to me was when Temple said the teachers of today don’t know what to do with these students, they don’t know how to work with them and help them grow. Hearing that really broke my heart, because these students are so intelligent and bright, and it’s upsetting that people can’t see that. A common characteristic of children with Autism is that they tend to fixate on things. Some teachers see this as a hindrance, that they cannot get through to the student because they’re too fixated on one thing. But as Temple said, we need to learn how to use their fixations to motivate them. She used a child who was fixated on racecars as an example. A math teacher could use that fixation to their advantage by posing questions about the speed of the racecar or how long it took the racecar to get from point A to point B. Teachers need to open their minds and see that these students have so much potential. If a visual thinker is guided the right way and shown the right examples, they could end up being a fantastic graphic designer. Pattern thinkers could develop the next groundbreaking operating system. A word thinker could write the front-page article of the New York Times. There are endless possibilities for these students, but only if teachers and parents learn to open the right doors for them.