Social Media as an Instructional Tool

Social Media in the Elementary classroom
Social Media in the Elementary classroom

This week I have been investigating how teachers are using different social media in elementary classrooms. What I found out was  practical, useful and I can say with a high degree of certainty that it will find its way into my classroom. After reading the activity through, I decided to focus my search on 4 tools which I already new about but had very limited experience with. There are many many tools out there but I wanted my research to have focus and a point. I knew that I could get sidetracked reading about new things for hours. I already wanted to use these tools but had not got round to it. To a certain extent I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. Research without a practical purpose is just . . . looking.

I chose, Skype, Kidblog, Edmodo and Twitter and found some wonderful teachers who are using these tools in a variety of ways. I chose to use Scoop.it to curate the articles and I have included a link at the bottom of the page to my curated articles. I didn’t use the built in search tools, I spent hours just searching for examples – I wanted the search to be more organic and to come from me. I was a little overwhelmed at first trying to find the right kind of reflective pieces but as I read more and more, I found some excellent pieces – mostly educators blogging about their experiences.

There were several key themes that kept coming up and that all the educators embraced in some explicit or implicit way. Firstly, the purpose of using these tools is clearly linked to learning – not just doing. All the educators spoke about connectivity and real-world preparedness. Educators are using these tools to help their pupils to connect with others, communicate more effectively and reflect upon the experience. The second clear theme was that these tools are not hard to use with any age of pupil. With a little planning, thoughtfulness and collaboration they can be adapted to work with pupils in any grade level.

I learned so many practical tips that I will have to revisit the sites numerous times to make sure I have it all down. I have set some goals for myself. Conduct a Mystery Skype as soon as possible, embrace Kidblog as a place for pupils to build portfolios and love writing, open an Edmodo account and change my attitude towards Twitter. I will now see it as a tool for all of us in my class, not just a tool for me.

Classes are social places – I firmly believe one of the most important things we do in schools is to help children learn to socialize and interact with others. The world that my current 5th graders live in is very different that mine was 30 years ago. I owe it to them to help them connect and understand that world and social media must play a part in that process. It will play a part in their lives. As I teach younger pupils, obviously care needs to be taken with how these tools are introduced and used. But that applies to all that I do as a teacher so it is not a barrier to success simply something to embrace. Look out for @Quitoclass coming soon (our class is called Quito).

Thanks Andrew

http://www.scoop.it/t/social-media-in-the-elementary-school

MY PLE Diagram – The PLE KITCHEN

For the final part of our assignment this week we had to create an original image which represented our concept and idea of a PLE. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted my image to be. I am quite a visual person so I wanted it to look good but spent too long playing with Photoshop. I even went to the IT department and borrowed a Bamboo drawing tablet and pen so I could create an original drawing. As usual, I was off on the wrong track. If I could only remember my wife’s advice that I am always wrong, then I would regularly dismiss my first idea and go straight to plan B.

Anyway, I realized the art was not as important as the metaphor so I listed the things I wanted the image to say. They were in no particular order:

  • My PLE is unique and dynamic
  • It will be different each time I access or use it
  • Even if someone else create the same PLE it would be different
  • I have to be a creator
  • There has to be a change for learning to take place
  • The end result (my learning) is created from a mixture of what different inputs I have.

Just by listing those things, it came to me. My PLE is a recipe. I use ingredients and select, decide, choose, add, adjust, taste and create something for myself or others. The subtlety is mine, the final flavor might be different from what I expect and if done correctly I feel satisfied. Yup. My PLE is Pie, Soup and Casserole.

I have created this image to reflect that. The PLE Kitchen. I used Glogster which is limited but did the job. I hope it makes sense to you all. It does to me.

As always feedback is much appreciated. Thanks

Andrew

Link to original Glogster diagram. The PLE Kitchen

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 2.33.04 PM

 

Addition.

After posting this, I spent some time reviewing and commenting on my peers’ images in our Facebook group. A couple of thoughts jumped into my mind in terms of comparing their images to my own. Firstly, all of the images I reviewed involved the use of icons to represent different sources, combined with a different and personal interpretation of how each person processed and made sense of them. To that end, mine is very similar.

Where mine differs from some, is that my image is quite linear. Input, process, output which is different from a few who had chosen the circle concept to represent their processing. Matt’s was similar to mine in that respect. All of the images I looked at had thought and refection evident in both the concept and the execution. I went for a metaphor to deliver my message which again was different from most images. It is just my own style – I learn from analogies and comparisons. What was evident was the caliber of my peers on the course. Everyone had put in effort and thought to their images and while many of us took a similar approach I got something out of each image I reviewed. Thanks to everyone.

Real-time Professional Development

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been focusing on professional development for my EdTech 543 class. I have been using Twitter to participate in different #chats and also participating in different webinars. The experience has been rewarding and enriching but not without its frustrations. What is clear to me is that by taking charge of my own profesional development, I feel empowered and know that I am driving my own learning in the areas where I am passionate. The downside is that there is no guarantee that the quality of the experience will be good.

The Twitter chats have been amazing. I returned twice in subsequent weeks to the same chat for new teachers #ntchat which is a great place to pass on knowledge to young teachers and to learn from them as well. The ‘feeling’ in the chat was welcoming and supportive and I followed a number of participants on both occasions. I was able to share advice on a  number of issues including good practice for parent conferences. Listening to other educators share their experiences in real time only helped to give me more ideas.

I also participated in the Connected Educator chat (#CE14) with Arnie Duncan which was a very different experience. The pace was fast and relentless and I wish I had known some of the tips I learned from Alice Keeler in a webinar later in the week. It was rewarding to join in with a wider range of educators and it was enjoyable when participants  retweeted or favorited a tweet – it give me a sense of validation – equal to anything I have experienced in face to face training.

The final chat which I took part in was #satchat which was another great experience. Lying in bed at 7.30 on a Saturday morning sharing learning experiences from my phone . . . not something that I could imagine myself doing just 12 months ago. We discussed game changers in education – which I took a little issue with semantically because  I’ve never seen education as a ‘game’. That aside lots of teachers sharing their favorite tools to use in class.

The webinars were more of a mixed bag. What I learned was just like any PD course or conference, there is often no way to know what quality to expect until you begin. I think as I become more experienced I will learn to source webinars from more ‘trustworthy’ sources. The first webinar was boring, dry and not engaging to me as a listener. I forced myself to sit through the presentation but did not ask questions. A learning curve. The second and third webinars were wonderful.

The second was a fast paced webinar on how to use Thinglink with google docs. Very useful and interesting and I listened attentively. My main contribution was to find out if there would be a recording to go back over the content. There was a chat box running throughout the webinar and I contributed by helping a number of people with questions as the session progressed. I forgot to take a screenshot of my contributions!

The third webinar was on how to use Twitter with Alice Keeler. She was fantastic and the hour sped by. I picked up a number of tips for how to use it and how to best use Tweetdeck for face paced conversations. There were a number of BSU students in the webinar and I am confident that they found it useful too.

The fourth and Final webinar too place today, hence my lateness in posting this blog. I wanted to wait and participate in a webinar which was linked to a hot topic in our school. I was scheduled to take part in one yesterday but decided that the content was not appropriate to my learning at the moment. Instead, I took part in an Education Week webinar on the future of Assessment from K-12 which was both enlightening and challenging. It made me feel confident that I am on the right track with assessment in my class – making assessments learning and engaging topics and making the most of formative assessment and quality feedback.

The result of this activity has been to open my eyes to how much is out there. I have already planned how to share this with staff in our school – cascading my learning.

Sometimes my questions were not answered – and I forgot to take screen shots because I was engaged in the learning. Next time I am going to use Voila to record the sessions myself to have my own copy. I have also realized that if the content is not what I expect or the quality is not up to my expectations, then I can just leave – unlike a real face to face where I would never walk out!

A great few weeks which has really impacted my learning. I have put together a google slideshow with annotated screenshots to act as evidence of my participation in the webinars and twitter chats.

Evidence of participation

Thanks  – as always comments welcome. 😉