Monthly Archives: February 2014

And then there was #storify

As the team from Storify tells us, Storify “helps making sense of what people post on social media. Our users curate the most important voices and turn them into stories.”

As a teacher and learner I have seen the role that Storify has in the #connectedclassroom.  Just a month ago, I introduced a plan to my students.  The plan was to integrate #socialmedia tools into our learning throughout our 2nd term in Language, Math, Geography and more.  Our first journey into the world of social media was within the Twitterverse, a fast-paced environment of feeling, thoughts, ideas, news and so much more as we followed the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

We discussed how we would use Twitter but of course my students asked the question, “What will we do with all we share?”  I already had the answer to their question, it of course was in the plan.  I told them the we would tell a story of Team Canada at the Olympic Games using Storify.  The questions rolled in. “What’s Storify?”  With a brief explanation and a tour of a few Storify’s my students quickly understood what we would be doing with all of their Tweets, feelings, and shares from the time we spent following and cheering for Team Canada during the games.

The result, a few examples…

Each of my students Storified their Olympics, the events, the athletes and the memories that they were left as we followed the 17 days of Olympics.  Their work displayed just what #Storify could do to support the use of #socialmedia in the classroom.

Twitter and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

I wanted to hit the ground running, and what better way than to use the fast-paced social media platform, “Twitter”.  It is “a free microblogging service founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone. At its heart are 140-character bursts of information called tweets. Users can include links to other content in their tweets, and broadcasts can be public or private” (Mashable).

We as a class were setting out to follow our Canadian Olympic athletes as the competed in 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.  Students would learn to celebrate with the athletes, fellow Canadians and any others following the Olympics, 140 characters or less at a time.  We spent some time discussing the 140-character limitation in preparation for our two weeks of “tweeting” during the games.  The most common questions were,

  • What if we can’t say what we want in 140-characters?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • Who will see what we are posting?

These led to some excellent discussions between those who had previously used Twitter.  They were able to share the strategies they had used to met the 140-character limit (short forms, symbols, elimination of vowels, URL shorteners).  A few already a part of the Twitterverse shared their knowledge of (@) handles (@_PhilYoung) and (#) hashtags (#treelineps #peel21st #wearewinter).  I added to the discussion the purpose behind our Tweeting and of course an answer to the question of, who will see what we are posting/tweeting?

Our purpose, to be active participants in the global community in a positive way.  To build a sense of nationalism amongst the class.  To build enthusiasm for athletics.  And eventually, at the culmination of the games, to learn how to curate (using Storify) stories of the Olympic games that we tweeted, retweeted, and followed.

Who will see what we are posting…why those who follow us, of course.  Our followers are our audience.  But of course, most of my Ss had few followers, few beyond their peers, and our class Twitter @YoungTreeline7s  So I was asked, “If our peers are the only ones who can see what we are posting than what is the point?” and “How can we get other people to see what we are saying?”  Again, as a user, I knew that the simple answer was “We need to acquire a following!” to which I was asked, “How?”  The answer to this was far more difficult and to be honest I did not have a straight answer for them.  What I could say was that,

  • it is all about what you have to share
  • who you share with (the @ handles linked in your tweets)
  • its about the # hashtags you use and others follow

So, we would be using, @Sochi2014 @CDNOlympicTeam #WeAreWinter and of course any twitter account for the Canadian athletes we would follow and support.

The outcome…

First Some Important Review

Although we have been using Edmodo (A social-media-like learning environment) since the beginning of the school, it was important that we spend some time reviewing our policy for appropriate use of online learning tools before acting on the plan of #itsallaboutsocialmediathisterm.  Over the past several years Treeline Public School has played host to many Tech Tours from schools throughout the Peel District School Board who were setting out on their BYOD journey.  One of the HOT questions coming from visiting staff was always, “What do you do when X “not such a good thing” happens?”  And to be honest, our BYOD learning environment had an unbelievably clean record for the first year and a half or so and my response often was “We have not had such an occurrence to date”.  Since then, X has happened a few times.  Some situations more severe than others, as such when introducing anything new that involves online sharing, collaboration or interaction we start out by reviewing our policy regarding appropriate use of online learning tools.

We also recall,

 Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 12.15.16 AM


to reinforce that our contributions to online communities need to be positive, meaningful and tied to our learning expectations.  Few reminders have been given this year because my students have a firm understanding that our use of devices, related tools and online environments are a privilege for the who will leave behind a positive “digital footprint” for themselves.


The Letter to Parents

I must say that I had my fingers crossed when I introduced the plan to use various social media platforms to my students and handed them a letter to take home to their parents.  My letter was telling parents that we would be using all of those “tools”, that they feared allowing their child to use.  The letter went home to 24 parents, and within a couple days I received my feedback, which for the most part was positive.  Students were coming back surprised, first because their parents were allowing them to use social media something they had to this point been not granted permission to use, and second, excited to find out what platform we would test out the water with first.  For a few students, their return after the weekend came with a few words of concern from their parents, most in regards to our potential use of Facebook.  A few phone calls and discussions later the concerns were address and all parents were on board with the plan.  I was super excited that the first hurdle was cleared and we were ready to move forward with the plan.  Twitter here we come!

The Letter, Social Media in 7A

It’s the half-way point and…

The thought for 2nd term is to integrate social media into every aspect of student learning.  So, the wheels were set in motion.  I began consider the curriculum I had to cover and determine how I could align the various social media platforms to work with each.  What social media would I consider using, Twitter (My current outlet when in search of Professional Learning and I will talk more about this is a future post), Storify (What better way to bring all of those tweets together), Smore (Let’s promote what we’ve learned about), Facebook/Google+ (Still thinking about these), Pinterest (Let’s Visualize) and I am sure there will be others that come to mind as plans move from thoughts to keystrokes.

One of my leading reasons for bringing these various forms of social media into the classroom was to model how the can be used in positive ways, to enhance learning experiences, and to share with others outside the walls of our classroom and school.  Now I understand that in the end that most of these are social platforms and it will take some convincing both with my students and their parents that we can make use of social media as a learning tool.  Of course we have already been using an educational based social media platform “Edmodo” since the beginning of the year to support our learning.  The difference between Edmodo and my 2nd Term plan was the potential global connection that we could make with our learning and the new environment that we would explore using the mainstream social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

The first step would be to inform parents of my plan.  To reassure them that these tools would only be used for learning purposes and that the worries they might have could be set aside.

The second step would be to continue developing my students as responsible digital citizens.  To grow their understanding of social media beyond their current knowledge which for many was quite limited, some was significant and others virtually non-existent.  A quick hands up survey showed that those using some form of social media were dedicated to either Instagram or Twitter.

I would love to hear your opinions on the use of social media in the classroom, does it have a place?

Our travel is confirmed!

Students and Parents,

We are finally confirmed for our trip to Ottawa on May 21st through 23rd.  51 students and staff will be travelling with Brightspark to our capital city.

Some reminders for those travelling,

  1. 2nd payment of $175 is due on the 28th of February
  2. Final payment of $173 is due on the 28th of March

Students will receive further information as our travel dates approach until then it is school, school, and more school.

Making Minions

Oh how the time has passed. Cannot believe he’ll be two in another week.

1B4E - Shivonne Lewis-Young

Next week is a big event for our family.  Our little guy William turns 2!  Which means I will have been back to work for an entire year which I cannot believe.  My how time has flown.  Though I have to admit my time off with my time off with my children feels like a distant memory and I feel like I have never left the classroom.

Anyway next weekend we will be celebrating with a Minion Themed party.  Between making over 50 valentine’s cards for the kids to hand out to their friends and prepping for a party it’s a busy time.  So I’ve decided to prep by doing an activity an evening.  We are making a pinata, a pin the googles on the Minion, Minion centre pieces, napkin rolls, balloons.  Most of inspiration is from Pinterest.  I found a really cute napkin roll pattern but I’ve put my…

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