Tag Archive | Social Media

Socrative

I was reluctant to hop on to the Socrative train.  For those of you unfamiliar with Socrative it is a clicker system that can be used on any device.  I was hesitant about this tool because to say I’m not a fan of test-like items is an understatement.  But then, on Saturday I attended the New England 1:1 Summit in Burlington, MA and Dan Callahan engaged his audience (me included) with this tool.

There is a lot to like about it!

  • access on any device: iPod, iPad, PC, smartphone
  • variety of question types: multiple choice, true/false, short answer
  • students can work on their own, or teacher can lead the group
  • you can prepare ahead of time, or go on the fly
  • you can set it up to have just 1 right answer for immediate feedback
  • download reports, view live stats
  • play as a game, set up exit tickets
  • can see how many have and/or who has responded

Here are some possible ways I can see myself (an anti-tester) using it

  • a check-in
  • workshop wrap-up
  • an activity reporting tool (I used it this way today when working with Starbursts to determine area)
  • collaborative notebook ~ collect students’ thinking during an experiment or other inquiry
  • front-load
  • pre-assess

Below is the wrap-up activity the students did after using Socrative as the reporting tool.  They had to report the area in Socrative and share a picture of it on Twitter. The self-checking activity that I set up in Socrative allowed for the kiddos to independently share out their own on Twitter.

[View the story “What is Area?” on Storify]

Text Me!

A week or so ago I had the great pleasure and opportunity to Skype with Alan November.  I loved what he had to offer and his chat re-energized me.  While chatting a question was asked about parent involvement / communication, and Mr. November had a few suggestions. 

He stated that every household is guaranteed to have one piece of technology; a television and that burning DVDs is an optimal way to share what students are doing in the classroom.  This is something I have done upon completing fairly big projects, like plays, but have never considered doing this for other routine classroom activities.  Based on when I have done in this past, I can see how it would be a big hit with families.  In the past when I have burned DVDs that demonstrated student learning families shared how their child ‘forced’ them to repeatedly watch it and brought it to every family function. 

Another suggestion that I know has been discussed on Twitter and that I have considered is texting.  Mr. November said that after TVs every household has at least one cell phone, and they have the capability to receive texts.  Some things he suggested were:

  • record the class celebrating a student’s success and text it to the parents
  • take a picture of something the students did and text the photo
  • take a video of a piece of learning and text it to parents
  • send reminders and/or updates

I would add to have the students be responsible for the recording of any of these items.

l know that when I first heard about texting parents I had privacy concerns; I am pretty particular about giving out my cell phone number.  But since then, I have come across Google Voice.  If you have a GMail account you can access Google Voice.  When you set up Google Voice Google will give you a phone number that you can use to place calls and/or send texts from your devices. 

I have since used it and am pretty happy with the results.  I use Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, and my website as means to keep parents up to date about what’s going on in the classroom, but I like what texting via Google Voice has to offer as well. 

  1. I can take videos, pictures, or audio bites, or web links off of my smartphone and text them through Google Voice.
  2. I can send a web link of student work
  3. When I use GV Mobile + I can attach pictures and/or video as well
  4. I can send messages to multiple people in one shot
  5. My personal phone number is protected

Already in the short time I have used it I have been able to quickly get in touch with parents and they quickly respond back to me.  When I attach a link to student work the parents go there and reply to the students about their learning.  There is also excitement from the parents and students.  More so than with Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, or the Website.  My thinking on this is because it is me reaching out to the parents, to let them know what has been updated.  They don’t have to take the time to check the other feeds to see if anything has changed.  We are all busy, but if there is something I can do to free up family time for my students I am happy to do that.  And Google Voice does just that.

 

Soaking Up November

Being a techie teacher I was quite excited when @JudyArzt invited me to her class for a Skype session with Alan November!  I use his book, Empowering Students with Technology, in two of the courses I teach and read it myself as a graduate.  @JudyArzt and I agreed that she and I would be mum during the Skype interview so that the students could ask their questions.  Can I just say how hard that was for me?  I was definitely using my wait time because when it comes to tech I can definitely monopolize the conversation, and having Alan November there to chat with I so easily could have done that!  I did get two questions in, as a follow up to his responses to others’, but focused on capturing the conversation on Twitter.  The Storify of those tweets is here, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things he said.

One of the first questions was asked by @reisc25 about parent involvement.  Alan’s point struck me, not because of the tech solutions he provided, but because of how he removed it from tech.  Here I am, this teacher that strives herself in using technology to keep parents informed (Twitter, Facebook, website, Evernote) and have used DVD in the past, but these simple tips are just that…simple!  Not to mention that they are a fab way to maintain student relationships!

Another student asked at what age to put children’s work online.  I know that not everyone will agree with him, or me, but I felt validated.  I am of the mind that we should have children online as soon as possible.  If they can click their way through their parents’ smartphones and tablets, then they are ready to click their work online.  With the advent of touch technology, doing such things makes working with tech intuitive for kiddos.  In addition to that, I firmly believe that if we get kiddos on social media in particular then digital citizenship skills will be like breathing.  I say social media because when I think of putting student work online I think of portfolios, and immediately think of social media because of the reflective piece of portfolios and the learning process.

With all of the chatter going on in education about assessment and accountability the next question was pretty timely.  This student asked about whether Alan foresaw there being an assessment for technology, and how kiddos would fare with state and national assessments going tech.  His responses are below, but the rebel in me found his comment about no standards interesting.  But it also got me thinking.  If tech standards would be obsolete, than what about other standards?  Tech makes so much possible that doesn’t it make all other content standards obsolete?  He also commented on keyboarding, and I whole-heartedly agree with ditching cursive and replacing it with keyboarding.  He suggested some alternatives for kiddos to practice that skill, and I will be posting about an idea I kidnapped from someone about ten years ago that would also be an inexpensive alternative.

Thanks to @JudyArzt for the invite!  Thanks to @globalearner for taking time out of his day to Skype in.  And thanks to EDUC584 for asking thoughtful questions!  I appreciated the learning experience!

Pin It!

Thanks to a friend, I am now a pinner.   When she first sent me the invite I was at a ‘not another social network’ stage.  But then she kept sending me links of things that she found on Pinterest.  And so I decided I should take a peek.

First, Pinterest is a site built upon collecting things that interest you and sharing that with others.  You can collect images, videos, sites, blogs, games, purchases.  Whatever you choose.  And teachers are well known for collecting. It allows me to collect sites in a visually appealing way; there has to be an image associated with what you pin.  And because I work with younger children I know the importance of meeting the needs of a variety of learners, the combination of visuals and text are helpful!  Of course the educator in me couldn’t help but start thinking about all of the educational things I could do with it!

Professionally, I’ve begun boards related to digital citizenship and kind-heartedness.  Pinterest is a perfect site to collect articles, websites, and what-not around topics that are important to you.  For me it is digital citizenship and anything that inspires kiddos to be kind to each other.  But I’ve also been able to collect curriculum related resources.  I love how this allows me to connect to fellow educators in another way (in addition to Twitter).  I’ve followed a few more education blogs since I’ve started pinning, too!

Now…in the classroom…I see a great deal of potential for it.  I am an avid of Symbaloo.  I have a great deal of Symbaloo webmixes on my classroom website.  I like that I can create visual buttons for all of the users to access.  But here is the problem, oftentimes I like to pull out a few of those resources for my kiddos to access.  For example, when we are learning multiplication facts I like to pull out specific games that will let my kiddos practice them in a fun way.   I often use Tumblr to aggregate those resources, but I really would prefer to provide them with a visual.  Pinterest would allow me to do that!  I can pull together specific games related to time out of all of the time games I have and post little notes on them so that they can determine which would be best for them!

Those are all great ways I can use them as an educator, but are also some stellar ways for my kiddos to use them.  Did I mention that there’s an app for that?  Whether you use Android or Apple there is.  This makes the application much easier to integrate in the classroom.  Here are a few ideas I have for how it could be used by students:

    • Student Portfolio ~ I currently use Evernote in the classroom as a student portfolio & do love the multi-modal capabilities.  But I could just as easily see this be done with Pinterest.  Students could take a snapshot of their work, upload it, and then write a reflection.  They could also video record their reflection and post it.
    •  Research ~ They could gather resources for a research project and write their notes right on the pin.
    • Share Books ~ They could post images of the book jackets, rate them, write book reviews, develop theories about characters.  Speaking of characters…
    • Character Pinterests ~ They could create boards that demonstrate their understanding of a character or historical figure.  For example (we happen to be reading Despereaux) they could locate images of light and revenge to demonstrate what is important to Roscurro the rat.
    • Timelines ~ They could develop a timeline of a typical day of a historical figure (we happen to be exploring Native Americans) and post images that demonstrate what things they would most likely do during a day: hunt, skin, tend to the corn, etc.
    • Scientific Procedures ~ Couldn’t they capture images of the process they went through during an experiment and capture their notes of it along the way?
    • Problem Solving ~ They could do the same for explaining how they solved a mathematical problem.
    • Explore Language ~ What a fun way to create pictorial representation of vocabulary and/or phonetics they are currently exploring? It could even become a visual dictionary for them!!!<span style=”color: orange;”>Student Portfolio</span>
    • Digital Story Telling ~ Pull together images and write captions to pull together a cohesive story.  They could do the same thing with non-fiction writing and create an infographic!!!

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m also thinking it would be a good way to group together student projects instead of listing them on my website.  When they all publish something, I could pull them together on a board and make it one-stop shopping!  I would love to hear some ideas of how you have used or would use Pinterest with your students!

For Me, It Was Phoebe

January 2010, my husband and I were in the car on our way to Maine to enjoy a restful weekend.  As usual, my husband was driving and I wa jumping around the various apps on my phone.  Scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds I spotted a post about a young girl in Hadley, Massachusetts  who committed suicide.  Immediately I was clicking on links to discover why.  Why would this young girl kill herself?  In the series of video clips and articles that I devoured my heart broke.  It broke for Phoebe.  It broke for her family.  It broke for all of us.

Do you remember her?  Phoebe Prince.  The fourteen year old girl recently immigrated from Ireland.  The freshman who caught the eye of a older football player at her school.  Who dated that older boy and paid dearly for it.  For three months, other girls (the “popular” girls) tormented Phoebe.  They taunted her in school.  Cornering her in the library, bathroom, and hallway calling her a whore.  These girls threatened to beat Phoebe up, prompting Phoebe to ensure she was never alone in school.  They made harassing phone calls to her home, sent her mean-spirited text messages.  They went on Facebook and ridiculed her, calling her an “Irish slut”.   On the last day of Phoebe’s life, as she was walking home from school, one of her tormentors drove by her and threw a full soda can at her head.

But that wasn’t all.  I wish it was.  What I later read is what makes a place in my heart for Phoebe Prince.   I wept when I read that after her death these same girls that tormented Phoebe were continuing to harass her.  They were publicly proclaiming at parties/dances and on Facebook that they were glad Phoebe was dead.  It appeared as if they felt no remorse for her death.  All I could think about was her family.  Could someone be so insensitive that they would leave disparaging remarks on a memorial page?  A page that was viewed by Phoebe’s friends and family, those who loved her?

And for all of those things I will remember Phoebe Prince.  I will always imagine the fear she felt as she walked through her school.  I will always imagine how helpless she felt when she attempted to protect herself by going to her school’s administration and them failing to do anything about it.  I will always imagine the pain her family felt upon losing her.  And their hearts being ripped apart when others spoke ill of their long-lost daughter.   I know that there were others before Phoebe, even as far back as 2003 (that I can recall) and others that followed.  And it saddens me that they are gone from this world.  That they felt suicide was their only option to escape their pain.  But for me, it was Phoebe that changed my views on social media and mean-spirited behavior.  And for that, I thank her.

Talking Tom

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Does this face look familiar? It may as it is one of the most popular apps on the iPhone or iPod. I know it from my nephew who uses it to say silly things and once in a while slap it around or pull his tail. Because of this I never considered using it in the classroom. Too violent. But, scrolling through my tweets, and then downloading and reading a suggested book about using apps to encourage higher level thinking I changed my mind. The ladies at Appy Hours for You made me realize how beneficial it was. I did not realize that the speaking you do could be recorded and then shared with others! How beneficial!

Once the app was downloaded on all of the devices (a future post coming about that) a Guided Discovery followed. Because of the possible cruel nature of the app I knew that it would be important to do. The kiddos noticed a great deal of what the app could do: record, repeat what you say, feed Tom milk, Tom scratching claws and more. A few important things came up during the sharing of our Guided Discovery. One thing we had a quick chat about was advertisements. There are advertisements at the top of the app for similar products. We talked about how this is common in free applications and the goal was for the developers to make money.

An important conversation we had was about the option of slapping Tom and pulling his tail. One of my students said, “You can slap Tom in the face.” So I asked, what does he do when you do that? They stated that his head goes back and he makes a face. I replied that it sounded like he didn’t like being slapped too much. I then reminded them of our Twittequette and the part that says, ‘Be honest, positive, and kind’ and asked them if we would be following our Twittequette by slapping Tom. They agreed that it would be unkind and that if we slapped him we would not be following it, but one kiddo said, ‘Yeah, but you can do it.’ I loved this comment! Here’s how I responded, “You are right we can do it. There are a lot of things we can do in life if we choose to. We can also hit the people in our lives, but is that the kind thing to do?”. They understood and when we went to use it, they were all kind to Tom. Some pouring milk for him to drink. Once they were using it, they realized that another kind thing you could do was pet Tom and that he showed his appreciation for that by purring.

After the Guided Discovery, which lasted about ten minutes, the kiddos used the application to record one of the multiplication stories they created the day before while playing a game. It may sound redundant to have them record the stories after that, but my intention was that the more they say it, read it, write it, the more the story structure becomes a part of their repertoire. There stories are posted here. Please check them out. As my husband said, “They are really cute.”

Mobile Teachers

I can’t imagine not having my iPad and/or Droid by my side while teaching. Am I tethered to my devices? Not necessarily. But I have become accustomed to the applications available on them that assist in the daily ‘stuff’ that makes up teaching.

I can not say enough about Evernote! I use it to keep track of parent – teacher conferences and phone calls as well as notes during PPTs and student – teacher conferences. I was sold on upload with Evernote last year while conferring with one of my students. after conferring, he wanted to try what we just talked about but couldn’t remember it. I tossed him my phone and he listened to our conference to remind himself, followed by application of our chat. Because I have Evernote downloaded on both devices I could still confer with other students while he was doing this!

Twitter and HooteSuite are very helpful when we are tweeting away in the classroom. Having these applications on both devices has allowed me to walk around and chat with my students while monitoring what they are all tweeting. During a recent TwitterView my classroom desktop was not connecting to the Internet. But…hooking my iPad up to the projector I was able to display the feed in case the student devices were not loading quickly enough. But I was able to walk around chatting with my students and use my Droid to stay in contact with the folks we were interviewing. Also, it comes in handy on field trips when we want to share our experiences with other folks!

Goodreads is a fabulous social bookshelf! We can be knee deep in a read aloud turn-and-talk and I can monitor what my students are saying about the book in real time. Or I an see what books my students are uploading to their shelves to get an idea of what they are reading at home and school. I really enjoy seeing their ratings and book reviews!

These are just some of the apps that I have on both devices, but there are some specifically on my iPad that I find helpful. Stick Picks is a handy app that lets me keep track of Ana array of things. I have written about it here. another one that infrequently use is Teacher Pal. Also written about here. While some may think it is poor modeling to use our mobile devices in the classroom, I disagree. When we use our devices for things like these we are showing our students what it means to be a responsible learner and citizen. We are showing them that we can use our devices for specific tasks and walk away from them. We are showing them how to be task oriented. Purpose driven. Accountable.