Something I’ve most enjoyed through the duration of this course is being able to walk away with what seems like an endless list of resources I have no yet tried in my classroom. My list of resources began to grow starting from Day 1’s Padlet exercise (Check out 30 Creative Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom here!) right through to the end of the course and that has been a huge gain for me to “up” my teacher game. Trying out some new tools like Ted Ed, Explain Everything, Open Learn will be sure to keep me learning long after this course has officially ended.
*If you’re interested in learning more about Explain Everything, check out my review post here!
Let’s talk about the Power of Blogging! I can say I really appreciated having a creative outlet to share my learning as opposed to sharing my thoughts, ideas and responses in isolation with the professor, as most classes are designed. Blogging myself and seeing the power behind commenting and receiving feedback from classmates has opened my eyes towards how easy this can be to do with my own students using tools like Google classroom. Not to mention blogging has really helped me to “up my game” knowing with the click of the “publish button” my assignment would instantly have a much larger audience then I had been used to.
Although I came into this course aware of my own digital footprint this course encouraged me to think about my role in educating my students about their digital identities. I quickly learned after a few conversations with my class how many of my grade 4/5 students were using social media, at times facing conflicts with others online or representing themselves in ways they may regret later on in life. “Context and audience matters” and educating students on the impact of their own positive or negative digital identities is so important. As Katia says in her post “Digital Identity in a World That No Longer Forgets” “The internet has a mind of an elephant”. We need to “think before we post” a theme I’ve carried into my own personal project.
Using Twitter in the classroom was something I had wanted to do for awhile now. I know I needed to branch out from the “typical teacher network in an effort to become a “networked teacher”. When I switched to teaching in a community school, my classroom blog was receiving little viewership by parents and I knew I needed a new format that was simple, to the point and reached a larger audience. I quickly learned a few key things:
#1- Networking is everything. It’s not enough to simple tweet and re-tweet but actually interacting with others online is rewarding experience – although difficult for me at first I’m slowly putting my online fears behind me and sending my questions out in the open! Following key educators on Twitter and expanding my social network early on was an important part of my project. Check out how I went about who to follow and why in my post Information Overload and Project Progress
#2- Making tweets authentic and purposeful is more important than having a classroom tweet every day for the sake of tweeting!
We wanted to focus on sharing when we really wanted something to be seen
as opposed to Tweeting everything we do. Although we didn’t Tweet everyday, we did Tweet what mattered to us and posted more personal learning videos in our Class Dojo apps where only parents can view. Combining content with Twitter and using it as a teaching tool to reach out for help, as I shown in the blog post Connecting With Other Via Twitter was a rewarding experience for both my students and I.
#3 – Transferring ownership to students is crucial for
engagement. As a type A teacher, it was difficult to gradually release the responsibility to my students – however you can see on my feed a shift in language as gradually moved towards Tweeting out my class, to leaving it up to the students to create their own captions and hashtags.
Last but not least – #4 Learning to use social media can not be taught in isolation of digital citizenship. These two things go hand in hand and quickly my project began to transform into the need to teach a thorough digital citizenship curriculum (Thank you commonsensemedia.org – a resource I highly recommend for lessons and resources by the way!) Check out my blog post titled Digital Citizens or Just Citizens and How to Show Respect for Others Workto learn more about this!
If we expect our students to be able to navigate the tech- savy world we live in today, we are doing a great injustice if we resist teaching about the complexities of social media and let students learn to navigate this on their own. Bringing twitter, blogging and other social media tools into the classroom can help model proper use and prevent many perhaps devastating or unsafe situations for our students in the future. Technology has changed the way students learn and I’ve hung tightly to the notion that we need to “Teach the application of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself.”
It is my responsibility to integrate technology in a way that prepares students to make wise decisions in relation to how they use the internet in positive ways. There will always be advantages and disadvantages to learning “in the open”, however having students explore these complexities within the classroom could better prepare them
to use technology successfully. Embracing technology and making students aware of the advantages and disadvantages has the potential to promote the positive use of social media and open the door more positive learning opportunities and interactions, especially when students begin to use these tools on their own outside of the classroom walls.
At times I catch myself feeling a little sad my grad studies journey ends with the completion of this course but as explored the Open Education Resources available (Read My Post on Open Ed here), I found myself getting excited about all of potential ways to continue to learn – for free! This leads me to my next takeaway -the importance of sharing. Our ideas are worth sharing. The benefit of open education, creative commons, and open collaboration means current info and free access. The open access movement works to make publicly funded academics open to the general public which offers many positive outcomes where locked down academic journals don’t. As discussed in my previous blog post, Sharing for Growth, this class has encouraged me to promote a culture of collaboration in my own school. We teachers we need to share our secrets, collaborate with others and not be afraid to expand our networks.
To view a more interactive version of my summary – check out my Summary of Learning video here!