Social Media Connects Us

For my ED554 Technology class, one of our assignments was to create a professional Twitter account (Follow me @MorganGraves37 !) I have been using my personal Twitter for about 4 years now, but I used it mainly to follow my friends and celebrities that I like. I use that account for more of an entertainment purpose and to see what my friends are up to.

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Almost everyone you can think of uses Twitter these days, especially educators! I was talking to my 4th grade elementary school teacher just the other day about twitter and social media and I was fascinated to learn that twitter had become a huge part of their curriculum. The elementary school just created their own account, and they use it to connect with parents and staff. It is a quick way to send out last minute information instantly. For example, the school will send out a tweet if a school event is cancelled due to poor weather. My teacher was also telling me that she uses it to keep her student’s families in the loop. She takes pictures of her students in the classroom or on field trips and tweets them out to her followers. This is a great way to keep parents informed about what exactly their children are doing while at school! I thought this was such a good way to incorporate technology into the classroom.

While browsing my twitter feed, I came across an account @WeAreTeachers that one of my classmates Emma had retweeted. That is the great thing about Twitter–it’s so easy to find new accounts to explore just by scrolling through your feed. We Are Teachers has their own website with fantastic resources for teachers! There are so many helpful tips and links on their website, but one I found particularly interesting was about Fairy Tales. As a future teacher it can be overwhelming to think of all the required lesson planning and on top of that, how to make those lessons creative. We Are Teachers posted an article called “Fairy Tales Gone Wild: 10 Creative Ways to Teach Fairy Tales.” This caught my eye, not necessarily because I have a strong interest in Fairy Tales, almost more for the opposite reason. Sure we have all read the classic fairy tales, but to come up with creative ways to teach them to students seems like a daunting task. Especially since the majority of fairy tales were written many many years ago, it may be hard to relate them to today’s youngest generation.

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We Are Teachers collected tips from teachers from across the country about how the best way to teach fractured fairy tales. They are super helpful, especially for new teachers like myself. They give ideas about how to introduce the lesson, what projects to include, what stories to read, and what discussions to have with students. At the end of the post they also include lists of fractured fairy tale stories to use! This post is just one example of the amazing resources they have for teachers. Without my twitter or blog, I may never have found out about this fantastic resource! I encourage you all to check out weareteachers.com and to follow them @WeAreTeachers on Twitter!

 

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Wordle!

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Today I used this awesome website called Wordle. It’s very simple to use and would be a great tool for teachers and students! You can either type in the words of your choice, or you can insert a URL and it will create this graphic out of words used! I chose to use my blog URL to make a Wordle. I think it turned out so cool! I think these images would look great to display around your classroom, especially since you can tailor it to your needs. A good idea would be to put the class rules in it, or the students names. It’s visually pleasing but informative as well. I highly recommend trying out this tool and making your own Wordle!

Extracurricular Empowerment: Reflection

Scott McLeod takes a different approach on the argument about technology and our youth. While most headlines we see referring to technology highlight the negative aspects, such as cyber bullying, sexting, and a cause of distractions, McLeod highlights the positive. It is easy to forget about all the good that stems from our youth interacting with technology, when we do hear about a lot of bad.

I believe that it is very important to focus on the positive effects that technology has, instead of dwelling on the negative. Of course, it is important to teach our children and students about internet safety and the dangers that come along with it. But that is not to say that we can’t embrace this revolution and show our pride in what our youth is dreaming up and making their reality.

The example in the video that McLeod focuses on is about a 9 year old girl named Martha, whose blog became famous for showing the poor food quality in her school lunches. Other young foodies from around the globe started sharing their photos and comparing what they were being served for lunch. Martha’s blog became such a hit that she was receiving feedback from the famous chef Jamie Oliver. The fact that the internet can connect so many different people that perhaps never would have met without it, is quite astonishing. Within days of her tweeting at Jamie Oliver, she received a signed copy of his book. Examples like this just prove how advanced our society has become. Our world has become a web of instantaneous connections.

Anyways, with Martha’s now famous blog, her school system decided to try and shut her down. The school board told her that she could no longer post pictures of her school lunches. This caused quite a stir, as it should have, and people around the world started advocating for her. After seeing the number of people fighting for Martha and her blog, the school board decided that instead of trying to censor her, they should look at what she’d advocating for. For once, adults were trying to understand what exactly kids are fighting for, and working with them, rather than shutting them down. In my opinion, this was groundbreaking. Martha began to use her platform to raise over $200,000 to help those in need. That is unbelievable! A 9 year old is capable of raising over $200,000 solely through the use of social media and technology. How can anyone believe that children should not have access to this powerful tool?

The point that McLeod tries to make is that if we want more of these children like Martha and the other examples he named, then we have to get rid of our fear and loosen our control and focus more on empowerment in school. Many of these great happenings are occurring outside of school, but it is important to utilize these skills in the classroom. As teachers and educators, we need to think of meaningful projects for our students to work on and give them the tools and access they need to succeed. Like McLeod said “Get out of their way and let them be amazing.” There is so much about technology that comes second nature to this new generation…so much that adults and teachers just can’t comprehend no matter how hard we try. We need to give students the platform to start, and watch them use their creative minds to create brilliant new ideas.

I think Scott has the right idea….What do you think about Scott’s take on technology?

#GenerationLike

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Frontlines “Generation Like” is a very interesting video and was truly eye opening for me. I consider myself very tech-savvy and I use all sorts of social media. However, I was completely unaware of the immense amount of time and thought that teens are putting in to establishing their online profiles. I use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but only to connect with people I actually know or have met in real life. I am wary about what I put on the Internet, because it is truly accessible by anybody around the world. It seems that teens these days were never told to be cautious of what they post, and instead do the opposite. They are now documenting every single part of their lives, whether it is through pictures, videos, or tweets.

Students are being introduced to new technology and social media at such a young age these days that it has become a new way of life. There are so many new terms used by young people surrounding social media, such as hashtag, selfie, tweet, and vlog, just to name a few. These are words that grab young peoples attention and are a part of their daily language. Like the video said, we are apart of a digital revolution that is here to stay. Children and teens are putting themselves out there for the world to see, and are expecting validation and attention in return. The video pointed out that social media gives them a sense of empowerment; it gives them a voice. There are things that could be said face-to-face that might get made fun of, but on the Internet, there is always at least one person that relates to it.

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It is important, that with all this new technology, for educators to try and understand this revolution and use it to their advantage. There are many ways to incorporate the new lingo into the classroom in a way that will enhance learning. Things like “hashtags” are relevant to their way of life, so using it in lessons and exercises can make it so students are engaged and interested to learn.  #learningcanbefun. The video pointed out that social media is all about sharing and collaboration. Kids are helping kids succeed all around the world. This can be used in the classroom as well. Similar to what we are doing in this 554 Tech class with our blogs, children can be using similar tactics. By following and sharing our classmate’s posts, we’re helping to expand their network. There are definitely ways of incorporating similar methods into the classrooms of children and teens.

“Generation Like” really gave us an inside look of the minds of the current teens around the world. We may not know what the next big thing is going to be, but we can fully believe that social media is not going anywhere. If anything, it will only keep getting bigger. As educators it is important to understand what and whom our students are interacting with in order to provide them with the best possible education. If we refuse to change our ways, then we are doing nothing but hindering the success of a brilliant generation.

I encourage all of you to check out Generation Like here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/

Teachers Helping Teachers

Along my search of blogs to follow, I came across Lisa Nielsen and her blog The Innovative Educator. Lisa’s sense of humor and grit really pulled me into her posts and I found her material very useful and well-written. Her “About Me” page shows that she is not afraid of people seeing who she really is, and she doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything. Lisa links her page back to many other blogs, which shows just how much networking benefits educators and students. Her most recent post, Why Innovative Educators Should Look Down upon ‘Look Up’, truly sets the town as to how her blog will read. This video by Gary Turk went viral recently, not just among education blogs, but Facebook and Twitter as well. The video’s message is that social media is making children feel lonely. Lisa shuts Gary down by saying that people like him “simply don’t appreciate the vast opportunities and connections afforded to social media savvy students.” My favorite point that Lisa makes is “The Gary Turks of the world don’t understand the value of having friends and followers whose minds may have connected even though they have not shared the same physical space. They don’t get that you don’t need to see someone face-to-face to admire and share ideas.” I think those words right there are exactly why technology and social media has succeeded in the ways it has. People are able to communicate and share ideas from all over the world-an opportunity that never existed in recent years past.

Lisa’s writing is so useful because it is clear and easy to read, all the while being extremely interesting. Although she uses mostly text, it is simply put and right to the point. She frequently creates posts titled “The hottest posts everyone’s reading” where she lists her most viewed posts all in one place. She not only posts her own opinions on various topics, but she posts useful tips and tutorials for educators to use in their own classrooms.

I know I have found Lisa’s blog inspiring and helpful and I think you will too! Make sure to check it out. I will definitely be bookmarking this blog and using it on my journey of becoming an educator myself.

Digital Media Reflection

After watching Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, I was interested to learn about a few new programs and schools designed specifically for students with interests in technology. Quest to Learn, a digital school located in New York, sparked the most thoughts in my mind. I have never heard of a school for “digital kids.” At first I thought it was a little strange, since it’s not what I’m used to. However, as I learned more about it I realized the creators of the school have a good thing going. It makes sense that not all people learn the same way. There are some children who simply can’t succeed in the traditional classroom setting due to various factors. Quest to Learn is giving those children a chance to not only succeed, but to learn in ways that make sense to them. The teachers that were interviewed for the video seem to be very intelligent and are aware of the concerns some have about this type of schooling. They don’t seem to be oblivious to the potential downfalls to this unique way of learning. Instead they try to spin it around to get people to see the positive outcomes. A main concern is that children are becoming addicted to video games. However, a good comparison was made from the addiction of video games to athletics. An athlete who consistently works on their skill is looked at as passionate, but when it comes to video games, it looks like addiction. I agree that it’s not necessarily fair to say one is an addict versus passionate.

I see why a school like this would be helpful, and as long as they follow state guidelines I don’t see it hindering students learning. I think it brings up interesting learning patterns, like collaborative learning and catering towards the interests of the students. However, the main concern I thought of was what happens when these students are forced to enter a traditional classroom in either high school or college? Since Quest to Learn provides such a unique way of learning, I would imagine those students might be at a disadvantage when it comes to reentering the traditional classroom. Although the “traditional” classroom might be changing, I believe that for the most part, the structure will remain the same no matter how much technology influences the world.