Saturday, September 28, 2013

Teaching Twitter as a learning tool

Take a look around your classroom.  You know there's a moment where some student is looking at their Twitter feed on their device.  The variety of things they are talking about is astonishing.

It's time to teach students how to use social media for productive means.

Teachers cannot allow this opportunity to pass by.  Students are already using social media, but they've never been taught how to use it appropriately or productively.

Yesterday, we got toward the end of the hour, and we had been reviewing for their upcoming test on demand and supply.  This is a topic that requires practice and application of the idea.  I was discussing how they should review and study so that they would be prepared.  I gave them a template using the demand/supply model to create questions first and then answer the question.

I, then, told the students that they should share and quiz their classmates - perhaps using Twitter.

Here's how:  first take a picture of your demand/supply model.  Second, write your question.  If it's multiple choice, list responses.  Third, create a hashtag (#) for others to follow (we used #econreview).  Last, tweet your question.  Your reviewing followers can respond to you, and they should make certain to use the #.  Everyone can scroll through the established # for the feed.

Fortunately, I had a student quickly catch on and tweet out the question I created.

I tweeted another one:

There seemed to be a moment of --- my gosh, my teacher is trying to have us use Twitter for schoolwork.  How dare he!  Or, who's this old guy thinking he can show us how to use Twitter!

The known unknown is whether this will catch on with them.  In their minds, this is an attempt to cross the line between what things are for work and what things are personal.

In a 1:1 world, there's no difference, but they don't know that yet.

(post script: I can check the #econreview, but either they've yet to starting thinking it's cool to review using Twitter or their Twitter settings are set so that only their followers may view them, which I will not become.  Students actually said that this is how people will start to 'unfollow' them.  I mean, what a great feeling that these students seem to have thinking that all of their followers read every single one of their tweets.  This must be a generation that broadcasts deeply profound philosophy.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the 1:1 Parent Open House: Show and Tell

Parent Open House for my school district is this week.  The parents get the opportunity to go through their child's schedule and spend a grand total of 10 minutes in each class.  What am I going to say?  I mean 10 minutes isn't exactly a long time, and there's so many things that I could talk about.  Being that it is a 1:1 class, and for most, it's their first, I will be doing some show and tell.

Ultimately, it comes down to this:  how do I help their child learn with technology.

The show and tell time for the parents will examine some of things that I 've been posting about on this Blog.  I will show them some of the tools we use, but their assignment will be to go home and ask their child to show them the following things:

1.  Schoology - their child should show them how the resources are posted, the calendar, and how they turn in assignments
2.  Notability - their child should show them how they can write things down and file them away
3.  Flipboard - their child should show them how Flipboard can be used to organize places on the web that they visit often including the next item
4.  Blogger -- their child should show them their blog and explain to them why they write every week
5.  Educreations - their child should show them how they can simultaneously record both their written and verbal explanations (fortunately, we just did our first one the other day)

That's a pretty good list.  In fact, it may be too much considering I will also be explaining how I am helping their child learn with each item.

I am also anticipating a few questions:
Q1: My child appears to be very public on the internet because of your class.  Shouldn't they be protected?
A1:  Most students are already publicly posting things on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  I will be teaching the students how to post appropriately and successuly brand their online image.  They've never learned this before.

Q2:  My child is always on that device.  How do I know they are really doing work?
A2:  Ask for them to show you what they are working on.  Take an interest and see if you can help.

Q3:  If my child doesn't feel comfortable with the device, can they use a notebook, paper, and pen?
A3:  Yes

There are known unknowns out there.  I would appreciate any input.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What I'm progressing on: Flipboard

In an earlier post, I said I was working on Flipboard.  And I am.  And there's progress.

The Flipboard dashboard is an excellent way to organize information on the web that you want to access very quickly.  Flipboard is a free app (well, all students of economics know that it will actually cost you about 10 seconds of time to download it!  It's definitely worth it.)

On my Flipboard dashboard, you'll find my trusted newsite, the New York Times, my Twitter feed, and most importantly, my students' blogs.

Flipboard allows you to create magazines of different websites and then access them all within a few clicks.  Currently, I have 7 magazines.  I like to read SI's Peter King (especially MMQB), the Chicago Suntimes' Hoops Report -- those two are in my sports section.  I like to read economics blogs, particularly, Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw.  And I like to read professional educators blogs supporting some of my colleagues.

What are my other 4?  My students' blogs!  In the second week of school, I had my students create their own blog on Blogger.  Then, I had the students send me a link to their blog.  I collected them and put together a classroom magazine.

The students then subscribe to the magazine on their own Flipboard.  Now, they have everyone's blog at the finger tips, and they can personalize their Flipboard dashboard as they wish.  I wanted to make sure they can access everyone else's blog because they will be commenting on other students' blogs.  This makes it so much easier to navigate through the maze of blogs.

Last night, I ran into one my student's parents whom I've known for 15 years.  We were talking about his son, and he brought up the iPad.  I told him to ask to see his son's Flipboard. 

I'm interested to find out how quickly my students have personalized their Flipboards.  They need to play around on their own to connect the Flipboard editor to their iPad or PC.  Once you do it, it's very simple to operate.  I mean, I have time to show them how to organize materials for our class, but how much time do I have to help them organize everything else?  Now that I think about it, the homework assignment should have been to personalize their Flipboard and set a minimum standard, but I had already assigned a reading on Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand.  I guess this where the Invisible Hand punches me in the face.

The key is show students how to be successful, show examples (for instance, my Flipboard), reinforce the idea, and let them flourish.