I am finding it difficult to blog these days because my brain is filled with so many random pieces of information and ideas about what I wish to convey to the other cohort members. It is 11 am on Saturday and so far I’ve watched 2 NCAA Basketball games, explored the exciting and engaging presentations from the EARCOS Teachers Conference from Twitter, read an enlightening point of view regarding the National Writing Project, learned about 2 new design tools, and begun planning a workshop. Did I mention I got out of bed at 8:15 am.
Technology has transformed my Saturday mornings and who I am as a person by contributing to my understanding of the world and then allowing me to share that understanding with others. I don’t know who these others are but I am pretty sure that they are a lot like me: connected and interested in what is out there shaping our local and regional landscapes, while monitoring the global ebb and flow of trends in information, innovation, and social change. Basically I can’t stay away from social media because I firmly believe it allows me to be a better person.
Enter edmodo (or Facebook for school as it is called). I have been using this tool in the classroom since January and it has been fantastic for me as an organizational tool, message board, and general medium for students to share knowledge, products, and ideas. I have become a social media monster and I have never felt such intensity in the classes. They are thinking about relevant topics in core content areas, they are practicing information literacy, and they are communicating in a variety of modalities.
(made with Chrome extension Awesomescreenshot)
In social media I explain that there are only a five reasons to communicate on-line (please comment if you have different ideas about this):
1. a decision has been made
2. a reaction has been made
3. to monologue or reflect
4. to paralogue (yes I made up this word) – literally to speak side by side; or speak beyond the conversation topic.
5. to share information – literally “this is interesting and this is why….take a look whoever you are.”
What can social media do for teachers? Well as far as I’m concerned the most important aspect of social media is in it’s support of 21st century skills. Framing formative assessment around good commenting practices and concision of writing can be a start. Critical thinking in content areas are easily embedded when you attach some resource (article, song, video) and then ask students to find a relationship between the resource and a topic/theme/concept. Another way a teacher may utilize social media with their students is to have them create a relevant question related to the topic/theme/concept and then have them use their research and information literacy skills to find 2 or more different answers to the higher order question. They then must make a decision regarding which is the most valid response and explain their rationale for the reason. (assessing skills??? I think so!)
What I have really enjoyed seeing more and more are these ginormous google docs and spreadsheets that are open to the public and are updated with peoples names to follow on Twitter, or a list of web tools for literacy based instruction. These collaborative documents are gold mines!!! Here are some more ways to use Social Media in the classroom. In two weeks I will be presenting a workshop on this to teachers at Ruamrudee International School in two parts. I forgot to mention that I use Social Media for professional development. That is part II. of my workshop, “Creating a PLN.”
To end on a relevant note I wish to welcome the new cohort from EARCOS 2011 to the blogging community. I read about ten of your posts yesterday and I wish to personally thank you for sharing your experiences in the workshops. You saved me money & time and my only regret is not being able to have a lovely beverage with all of you in a lounge or at a gala. I especially want to thank Sara Browne for posting two great entries on working memory & revising Blooms. I believe that if you are teacher you better have some understanding of how the brain learns. Read these entries if you don’t.
Also thank you Mixpod.com (social media tool that allows people to share their playlists) – I have enjoyed some excellent song mash-ups while writing this blog entry.