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Thursday, May 31, 2012
|Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)|
I think Paul Barnwell in his Education Week Teacher Article has some great points:
"If it’s simple—even mindless—to use or create with new technology, then we must question the pedagogical value of what we are doing. That said, I don’t regret using Poll Everywhere and experimenting with class blogs several years back. After all, as educators we must be willing to test out, and sometimes adapt to, evolving opportunities to teach and engage students. I’m still trying to figure out my curriculum, and will continue to test out new programs and technology applications to enhance the course. But until I'm convinced that cell phone and social media applications truly support deep thinking, my students will keep their devices in their pockets and backpacks."
However, his Title "Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools" is entirely misleading. I left a comment there and have pasted it below to further the conversation. If you want to comment, I think you should go back to Paul's original post.
His points that new, shiny, well loved devices don't always equate to excellent instruction are good ones. His challenge that we should do more and be more with our teaching than create distraction and lack of focus are great ones. However, my problem with the article is his complete dismissal of Twitter, Facebook, and Polly Everywhere as "unsuitable" or "bad" also miss the point. Here's my take:
I agree with Epbylon that your headline is misleading. It is not the tool itself but HOW you use the tool. For example, my ninth graders have a 20% time project where they spend 20% of their time on a project of special interest. I have one student in particular @Apps_for_Autism that has almost 300 followers now. She and I have spent a lot of time together talking about hashtags, how to engage in conversation, how to research her topic. She's found a wonderful psychologist to mentor her and shares her findings.
When we do research projects, I teach students how to find hashtags around conversations and subscribe to those conversations in their RSS reader. I've found this assignment requires a lot of higher order thinking.
When my students wanted to do a project using social media to bring awareness to human trafficking and the problems. They had a wordpress blog, a Twitter account (we set up twitter feed to send the posts there) and a Facebook page. We tracked engagement levels and things that created likes. What stimulated engagement. Now, this was part of my social media module for 3 weeks but it wasn't just your average "post on facebook."
It bothers me when people insult tools as if they are supposed to be some sort of savior or demon. It is always WHAT you do with the tools and HOW you use them to teach.
I do totally agree that many have gimmicky uses of tools but there are also some powerful uses of many of the tools you've found not to be suitable for your purposes.
As a teacher, it is our job to promote higher order thinking and have students use tools in ways that will get us there. I've been able to use Facebook and Twitter in those ways in some instruction but then, there are times of the year that students would get off track or we weren't using Facebook for educational purposes and I'd need to block it.
To sweepingly state Twitter and Facebook are "bad" instructional tools is like saying that paper is bad and should be eliminated because so many teachers use it for mind numbing worksheets. Websites are modern day paper and can be used in many ways both helpful and mind-numbingly useless. Thanks for the thought provoking post.
I think that social media could be Dr. Jeckyll or Mr. Hyde depending upon the use. With the noted exception of a site like Chat Roulette, I believe that almost any site could be used in positive ways for teaching. We should never settle for the new tool as automatically being good or bad just because of the tool - I've seen silliness on Edmodo where we had to redirect the students back to the task at hand.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012
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Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
- What is the last impression I'll leave the kids of this school year?
- I'm so exhausted right now, how can I possibly last in this profession?
- I am now one year closer to my last year of teaching (whenever that is) and I wish I could do this forever.
- I have too much to do -- how can I last?
As I ponder the word "last", "reciprocity" hits me as an apropos word for today as well. An excellent school year -- one that lasts in the hearts and minds of a student and the teacher is one where both of them learned from each other and gave energy and effort to each other. A great relationship of reciprocity emerged in a great school year.
This year has been another great one but in my exhaustion this week some moments I wonder, "why do I do this?" "Does it mean anything?" "Do I make a difference?" It feels pointless and I feel worthless.
Sometimes I wonder why teach at all -- it takes everything I have -- but then a child comes to me and gives me a hug or says thank you and I remember.
Some great men are carved on mountains and monuments but great teachers carve the future on the hearts of children. We cannot underestimate the importance of what we do in our classrooms.
|My Granny Martin always said "sometimes you gotta|
tie a knot and hang on" - this time of year is knot
Don't give up on yourself or teachingI'm asking you to suspend judgement on your year and yourself for a bit. Wait until you're rested and have a bit of the spark back in your spark plug.
Don't give up on yourself. Margaret Thatcher said:
"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it."You may have to reinvent yourself many more times before you become the great teacher the good Lord intended you to be. Every year there are some great things and some things I didn't like. There are things I cherish and things that are rubbish. There are things I want to remember and other things I want to forget. Such is the nature of teaching.
The Real Classroom
If you're looking for perfect, go buy the most expensive diamond you can find, go in a dust proof room with the best magnification glass you can find and look at that diamond. You'll find that the diamond has flaws because the only perfect diamonds are fake-manmade diamonds. Likewise, the only perfect classrooms are fake, manmade classrooms on the pages of books and blogs that surgically remove the unsavory aspects of teaching.
The fact that teaching is an imperfect endeavor doesn't detract from the fact that teaching is one of the most important endeavors that the world undertakes.
So many people shake their heads and say, "I could never teach" but I always respond, "Well, I can and I love it."
But I can't let the fact that I'm not perfect make me want to quit. I can't let the fact that I'm exhausted make me want to go to sleep and never wake up. If I want to last in this profession, I have to get ready to REST.
Rest is something
Rest is not doing nothing, rest is most definitely something. I shared a recent infographic on my blog that shows that teachers work 99% of the hours of other professions but in 25% less time. There are many of us that do far more than that.
Here very soon I'm going to be going to the mountains.
- I'm going to take off my shoes and wade in bitingly cold streams.
- I'm going to do some white water rafting in a ducky all by my little self.
- I'm going to hear the roar of water falls in my ears and hear the laughter of children sliding down a sliding rock that has a bump at the end that is enough to tear up your hiney if you hit it just right. I'm going to tube down Deep Creek in a wooden-bottomed tube and do all kinds of things that people say a 40 something year old woman can't do.
- I'm going to lay down on the ground and take photographs of the tiny little mushrooms that grow up in the dew of the morning and get as close to a flower as I can get and still focus for some incredible macro shots like I love to take. I'll frame some more and hang them in the kitchen.
- I'm going to sit on the back porch and drink coffee as the kids roll down the steep hill and slide on the grass until their knees are green.
- I'm going to rate splashes on a scale of 1-10 as kids jump in the pool and get me soaking wet.
- I'm going to find some new music to listen to and play it so loud that no one can hear in the kitchen.
- I'm going to cook some awesome new food that my husband will love.
- I'm going to read some amazing new books and make some new friends on Twitter.
- I'm going to finish writing my second book and get it off to the publisher and continue working on my third.
- I'm going to lay on the couch under a blanket and watch old episodes of Little House on the Prairie, Andy Griffith, and every old Star Wars movie I own. I'm going to cry watching Chariots of Fire and Secretariat and throw in a few movies where everything gets blown up for good measure.
- I'm going to redo my workout area to find some things I can do now that my knees are bothering me so I can work out every day and get this weight of the last few months back off me.
- But amidst all this going to I'm going to rejuvenate my soul.
A teacher who can't read her own body's signals isn't going to be in any shape to teach a child to read in the fall. You need to take a break or you'll break... you won't last.
Build the habits into your summer routine to accomplish your goals
But as you think of your summer remember that you are a product of your habits. I'll be sitting in my den this Saturday, my first official day of summer, making a list of the goals I want to accomplish this summer. Then, I'll plot out my typical day with the habits that it will take to accomplish those goals.
Rainfall is random but irrigation is an intentional channeling of water towards a specific direction. Your life is like water -- design your habits and they become the channels that direct your life into your lake of legacy.
For now, be careful out there.
I haven't worked out all this busy, craziness of life. My attitude isn't so great right now. I'm so tired that I feel like I can't go on another second. Yet, I'm putting one foot in front of the other so I can end well.
I know that you're there too. So, be careful out there. Don't do anything rash. Don't quit your job. Stay away from gossip. The gossipy, negative attitudes of coworkers are like arsenic in the hand of the suicidal during crunch times like the end of the school year. Let those who are poison be around each other. Listen to good music when you can. Get some rest. Keep your focus.
|My oldest son and me at a friend's lake a few years back.|
You CAN Last
But know that you CAN do this. Teaching is a legacy. Teaching is a noble calling.
Great teachers are heroes but poor teachers are scoundrels. Don't let the scoundrels get you down, they will reap the legacy that they've sown but you'll reap yours. The existence of scoundrels doesn't make you any less of an important, incredible, vital person. In fact, it makes you more important than ever because you have to serve as a counterweight to the negative impact of that teacher.
But for now, think about lasting. Rest so you can last. Celebrate these last moments with a group of students that will never be in quite the same relationship with you again. It is ok.This is what we do. We say goodbye but very soon we will be saying hello and wishing we had enjoyed this moment.
You can spend so much time living tomorrow that you don't take care of today. Today we must finish well and we must rejuvenate so we can last.
And my friend, you need to last because the world needs good teachers like you. From one teacher to another, what you are doing is important. No one really knows the sacrifices you're making and you're never going to be paid or compensated fairly. You're going to be misunderstood, maligned, disenfranchised, and discussed but you'll never lose your place in history if you do this job well. You are a teacher and I'm proud to be among you.
Here's to you. Here's to me. May we all teach well to the last and may we last as long as possible in this great, noble profession that needs us.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
|Math Teachers are asked to review their textbook for the first|
TeacherView Report Card
In fact, the new Kensington iPad2 Keyboard Case I'm using to type this post onto my iPad is a result of my husband using those same reviews to find me the perfect iPad keyboard. I can now type and work all the way to church and back (a 30 minute ride each way.) My life is better because real people took the time to say the good and the bad on products.
Where are the rating systems in Education?But, thus far, education has no real ratings system. Reviews for apps are just hit or miss with many reviews being written by fanboys and fangirls with a bias towards positive ratings (in my opinion.) Right now there is NO mechanism for evaluating educational textbooks used at the K12 level.
In some ways publishers would like us not to connect. Word of mouth or even worse, vendor buddies get the business from large districts. It is time for crowdsourcing to come to the ranking and reviewing systems in education.
Why Classroom Window?
I get dozens of requests to review products or to talk to people about new things that are the next "big thing" and most of them just get deleted. I'm a teacher and don't have time for most of it. There are a very few companies I talk to and just one or two I've done work for (always disclosed on my blog, like TES out of the UK - a great place for free lesson plans and resources.)
But, when Kirby from Classroom Window called me and talked to me, I really liked what he had to say about the vision for the company. It is a very small startup with more energy than money and in the process of reaching out to investors. I am biased towards things with a few characteristics: 1) the people who run it are trustworthy with a good track record of keeping promises, 2) the product helps teachers and will benefit education, and 3) the company is capitalizing on a trend I think is just early enough on the curve to have a lot of growth ahead.
My time is so limited, so I wanted to find a way to work with them and help them with what they are doing. Right now, we are negotiating that in return for my time, I will have a stake in Classroom Window (a fact I will add to the disclosure statement of my blog if we are able to [hopefully] work out the details.)
So, what does this mean for you?Their first project (besides the basic reviews) is a teacher reportcard on Math textbooks. With the efforts to improve Math education in the US, this is very timely. They've set the ambitious goal of finding 1,000 math teachers who are willing to evaluate their math textbooks. (If you're not a math teacher, you can give them your email and they'll contact you for future surveys.)
They've also set aside money to give the first 1000 teachers who fill out a survey a $10 Amazon gift card.
We've spent many hours talking about privacy concerns that teachers may have and confidentiality to make sure that teachers don't have any repercussions. We've talked about mechanisms to ensure that publishers don't "game" the rankings.
Will you support Classroom WindowSo, I'm reaching out to you to ask you to support this very small company that I think is worth my time and yours. They are a lean mean startup and I like their ambition and think it is an idea whose time has come.
Here are 3 ways you can join in:
- US Math teachers can complete the survey on math textbooks.
- Join Classroom Window and review some products you like (or dislike)
- Tell your friends about it.
Anything that helps teachers help students and helps us move past the questionable nature of current textbook purchasing practices is something I'm in favor of doing.
What do you think? Will you share in your network? Also, will you give me and the people at Classroom Window advice on how to make this dream a reality?
Thanks. You can expect me to keep you updated at least once a month here on my blog and several times a month through Twitter. I've never done an arrangement like this but since my Dad is a farmer, I have grown up loving to work with entrepreneurs who have big dreams. Just know that my full time job is still teaching and that I still always write everything here on my blog and retain full editorial control over what I do.
Thanks in advance for your advice and participation. Let's make teachersourcing feedback a reality.
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