This week's topic for #ETMOOC has been Connected Learning: Tools/Processes/Pedagogy, which I think is perfect because our Internet for Educators class has also been discussing Connected Learning as well! For me Connected Learning definitely included my PLN, so I've created a "Visualization of my PLN" below.
Connected Learning doesn't just personally apply to me as a teacher, however, it also applies to my students and how we set up our classroom activities. I can honestly say that our classroom wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for technology and the ability to network with other people around the world. (This is especially evident on those days when technology fails us!). I want to share some examples of how I have implemented various social media tools in order to provide a richer learning environment for my students.
Remind 101 is an automated communication service that allows for teachers to text reminder messages to their students in the evening after school or in the morning before school.This site is SO EASY to use and in literally 5 minutes (probably less) I had set up an account for my class. Somethings I like about Remind 101 are that:
1 ) Its FREE
2 ) I NEVER see my students personal cell phone numbers
- They sign up by texting a pre-assigned code and all I see is the name they sign up with
3 ) I don't have to use MY personal cell phone number!
Once students are signed up, I can see my list online of who is all using the service (remember, I don't see they cell phone numbers, just their names). I can then send out messages to be texted out (ex. Chapter 3 questions, #1-5, are due at the beginning of class tomorrow). I can even schedule messages beforehand so if I think of something while I am lesson planning, I can schedule an appropriate text to send out at the right time!
I've had several students come into class in the morning saying, "I never would have remembered _____ if you hadn't texted me last night". I find that Remind 101 is such an easier way to assist my students rather than nagging them the next day. I mean, their phones very rarely leave their hands, why not take advantage of that?
While I haven't been able to set up a Twitter account for any of my classes yet, I have used my own account with students in my Grade 11 Global Issues class.
Right before I began my third student teaching placement I attended the MTS Fab 5 conference where I was able to sit in on a session with Wade Houle. In this session, Wade very generously shared a curriculum package he created in regards to Teaching Aboriginal Topics. When I began teaching "Indigenous Peoples" with my Grade 11 Global Issues class I drew on ideas from Wade's package and shared with my students that Wade had done a similar activity in his classroom. Coincidentally, Wade teaches at a nearby community that was known as our student's "rivals" and the fact that his students had also done the project quickly started a competition atmosphere in our classroom. I found that my students were incredibly motivated to learn more and complete their projects "better" than the students in Wade's classroom. Each day as they completed more of their activity, they would tweet his classroom and share their progress. The fact that Twitter could provide my students with an authentic audience that motivated them was very rewarding. I'm including the final tweet they sent out with their completed project! To see their full project, click here.
I don't have as much experience creating videos but thanks to a recent PD session I attended I am definitely excited about doing it more in the future! I think it is a great tool to provide students with an authentic audience and to let them use a platform that is relevant and meaningful to them!
This video was a project I created with my students during a 30-hour famine fundraising event they organized to raise money for their local food bank. This was the first year that the school had done an event like this so the students were excited to document their activities to be shown in future years.
*To maintain divisional policies, we only used images and audio tracks as opposed to video clips.
While I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far, my student teaching placements are only seven weeks long or less! During these times I have usually had to work with the fact that most students are not familiar with sharing online unless it involves Facebook and some divisions do not allow classroom information to be shared online at all. This meant that I was either appealing my case to admin or spending valuable time getting students used to a routine they were not familiar with. Either of these situations resulted in not much sharing time in only a few short weeks! It is my hopes that when I have my own classroom that sharing will be a regular part of the routine, while still maintaining divisional guidelines of course. I would love to maintain a classroom blog and Twitter account with my students where we can showcase our classroom activities through written posts, videos, audio clips and images.
How are you using social media and various tech tools in your classroom? Is there a specific project or activity that has really benefited your students?