Sunday, 9 October 2016

Web 2.0 & Social Media in Lessons


As we aim to broaden our students knowledge of the world, connections and communication becomes more important. Teaching through Web 2.0 allows students to communicate with others, instead of just a one directionally path with no authentic audience input (Hew & Cheung, 2012, p.48). Collaborative approaches to learning are key to helping students construct knowledge together.

In my classroom, I have used a number of Web 2.0 and social media tools to support learning:

Edmodo

Edmodo is like Facebook for education but fits the needs of my students who are under age 13 (age requirement of Facebook). It can be used a general discussion board to ask questions and share resources both during the school day and after hours. As a teacher, I can post polls and also reward students with badges for their efforts. It also provides a great platform for some important digital citizenship conversations such as appropriate online communication, what to reveal about yourself, the difference between professional and personal communication, who to connect with, avatars and profiles and online image.

Available at: https://www.edmodo.com



Skype
Skype is often an under used resource. Skype allows you to make video calls to another around the world. Last year, our class did a number of Mystery Skype calls with other classrooms to develop our geography and problem solving skills. We also sang Chinese songs with another school for Chinese New Year, wrote poems together and played math games against other classes.

Available at: http://www.skype.com/


Blogger
In Year 4, students create cultural blogs to explore their identities. As an international school, the students can find this task challenges with many being third-culture children. The blogs allows them the experiences of writing different posts to explore aspects of their identities and follow the journeys of their classmates and interacting with each other through the commenting features.

Available from: www.blogger.com


e-Portfolios (Google Sites)
All students at our school have e-Portfolios from K1- Year 6. This is a great way for students to reflect on their learning and select pieces of work they wish to share. Students share these portfolios with parents, teachers and other students. Together it opens the lines of communication in person and through the comments. It really helps students to know we are all working to help them grow and learning with constructive feedback and encouragement.

Available at: https://www.google.com/sites/overview.html


Twitter
As a teacher, I use Twitter to connect globally with other educators. It is a great way to have short discussions while also getting ideas and resources. With the options of both private and public messages, I can easily communicate with the many educators I have met online.

Available at: https://www.twitter.com


Here are 2 articles related to introducing social media to your classroom in the Primary school:
Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students
A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom

References

Hew, K.F. & Cheung, W.S. (2012). Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in K-12 and Higher Education: The Search for Evidence-based Practice, Educational Research Review.  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Digital Citizenship



Like any behaviours that teachers want to instill in their students, the expectations for behaviours need to be laid out at the beginning of the year. Within the first week of school, students engage in a lesson about the acceptable use policy. They are then expected to take a copy home, sign it and review it with their parents before returning it. All students in the Primary school begin with this routine. From there, it is easy to reference back to as the students begin to do activities. Teachers must be fully versed in the acceptable use policy as well and hold their students to this standard. Our acceptable use policy is quite thorough for students and focuses on the following topics: respectful, responsibility, care for devices, privacy, accessing appropriate information, referencing, discipline and social media (Chatsworth, 2015).

Another important aspect of teaching students about digital citizenship is actually modelling it as a teacher. It is extremely frustrating as a education technology coach when teachers ask me how to do things that are illegal, not aligned with our acceptable use policy or incorrectly. If teachers do not model how to be a good digital citizen, how can we expect our students to? As teachers, we should be showing students how to engage appropriately with emails, citing our work and referencing images in presentations. We need to be leading the way when our students turn to use for the standard. One way I have done this is set up an email writing programme in the past where students email me each week and I respond with an email. From this, students understand the format of an email, appropriate email communication all while building their written communication skills and rapport with the teacher.




Digital citizenship should be embedded into the curriculum and not taught in isolation. Students need to make meaning of it by connecting it to real life experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The Year 6 students are currently doing their puberty unit and learning about body image. This also translate into their online image and how they see themselves.  The teachers and students are having conversations about the impact of media and social media on their views of themselves and the images they also share. They are also discussing how to communicate appropriately on social media platforms. These topics are completely integrated, giving students context for the topics. 

There are also those times when teachable moments arise. Perhaps someone posts something inappropriately online or you see another student properly reference images. These are great conversations to have in the moment even though they weren't planned. When questions come up from students about something online, you shouldn't shy away from it but rather support the student's inquiry and help build their digital citizenship schema.


One of the other things as an educator I need to be cognizant about is that educating a child is a partnership between the school and home. This is why we also need to educate our parent community. When I was a homeroom teacher, I made sure that my class parents were informed regularly about what we were doing in our classroom, the technologies we were using and conversation starters they could have with their children. As an education technology coach, I work with members of our leadership team to develop and conduct parent sessions related to their child's technology use. We also have an open door policy for parents to drop in and ask questions whenever they need to.
Educating our students to become good digital citizens is not an easy task and not a task that can be accomplished in a year. It requires the whole school to approach digital citizenship as the way of moving forward. Currently our school is looking to build a digital citizenship curriculum that is integrated into various units from kindergarten to Year 13. Together with a whole school approach, we can work to support and model good digital etiquette for our students to follow.

References

Chatsworth International School. (2015). Acceptable Use Policy - Chatsworth Group of Schools [internal document]. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Transforming Classrooms with New Technologies


Technology in the classroom has changed substantially over time. Once upon a time, computers were not affordable for the average school to have in each classroom. The computer took up a good chunk of space in the room and had limited functionality. Nowadays, many schools have computers in every classroom, some enough for every student or a BYOD programme adopted so that technology can be integrated on a daily basis.

As a teacher that uses technology on a daily basis to enhance the education experience, it is hard to imagine it being challenging for teachers to find educational uses for computers when they were first being introduced into the classroom (Bigum, 2012, p. 18). For me, trying to find the best way to transform technology for education is something I enjoy doing. I like trying to find new ways to use the tools I have to make learning different and engaging for students. Back when computers were first being introduced this may have been more of a struggle with dedicated teachers still trying to lead the way.

I love being able to introduce new technologies into my classroom. Often I just show my students and just let them explore it. They will often be able to grasp how to use the tool faster and better than I would be able to show them if I was to lead a directed lesson. Because my students are now proficient with a number of technology tools, it is easy for them to transfer their knowledge between technology tools until it is 'domesticated' as part of the class (Bigum, 2012, p. 22).

As an Education Technology Coach, I am often approached by teachers wanting to buy the 'new big thing'. For me, it is important that our school doesn't just jump on board with purchasing things to 'keep up with the Jones'. Rather, take the time to trial it, see what the pros and cons are before purchasing and rolling out to the whole school. This helps to slow the cycle. It is important to note how a new piece of technology will change the experience of what already exists with a focus on how is it going to improve teaching and learning (Bigum, 2012, p.26).

I believe technology is enhancing the way I teach in my classroom. From a productivity and organisational standpoint, I find myself feeling that technology has supported me in developing these areas. From a teaching standpoint, I have access to resources and information that I would not be able to access without technology. I can engage my students by showing them other parts of the world giving them first hand references instead of just a text to read. Students can also access information easily, share and connect with other students. My students are able to collaborate in school and from home on assignments using a variety of technology tools and resources. Having had access to so much technology for educational purposes, I would find it challenging to move to a system that did not embrace technology. Technology has allowed me to better my teaching practice so that my students have the best possible learning experience.


References
Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.