Category Archives: Web 2.0 Tools
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.
For years I have created my own and adapted Powerpoint presentations of others for the various subjects that I have taught at the Grade 6, 7 and 8 level at Treeline Public School. My teaching has thrived on the communication of information through technology. For the first few years of my career the sophistication of that technology meant that I was using the traditional overhead projector.
Then the LCD projector became a more cost effective purchase for schools to make and I found myself using Powerpoint to communicate knowledge to my students, a tool that I had not used all that often in the first few years of my career. The link between my computer and the LCD projector streamlined my teaching practices. It also allowed my practices to be simplified especially when I was teaching the same subject on rotary to four different classes. Overhead sheets no longer had to be wiped clean as one class left and the other arrived.
The next evolution in Digital Presentation was Prezi, the “zooming” presentation tool. I cannot say for sure where I came upon Prezi but as my memory serves it was from a presentation given by one of our board ITRT’s (Instructional Technology Resource Teacher), Tina Zita. That staff meeting presentation opened my eyes to an all new means of communicating information to my students. For the past year or so things have been different, presentations are no longer linear, they now zoom and zip along a self-chosen path created within the information that I have to share.
For years’ the PDSB MyClass sites have been the innovate means to digitally share with students, an agenda, calendar, class notes, assignment outlines and any digital resource that one had available to them. Our MyClass sites only supported unidirectional communication, that is from teacher to students. This has worked for the last few years, as traffic on my MyClass has indicated. However, the evolving needs of students and thoughts of “flipping” my class forced my hand. I needed to search out a means for a more collaborative environment for student learning beyond the classroom. The search began and a google search provided quite literally thousands of results, however, one stood out, “Edmodo“.
Edmodo, visually it looks much like the Facebook of years past. It is clean, with a multi-pane layout. Groups that are created are displayed in a list on the left below the Teacher/Student profile picture, the centre pane was a “feed” of everything shared and on the right hand side are notifications and some what seems to be lesser important details.
Beyond, it visual appeal, setup couldn’t be more simplified. Create your account, add some details to your profile and then begin creating your classes. Class creation itself was a snap, a name for the class “8A”, a click and a class code was generated.
From there it was all in the hands, well fingertips of the students. After a 40-minute discussion with my class about my thoughts of switching from the Peel MyClass and showcase of “Edmodo” the students were super-excited, well as much as they could in the first week back to school after their 2-month summer holiday. What seemed to have them most excited was the fact that they were being given the opportunity to use something that seemed to be Facebook, a social media tool that their parents were not all that fond of.
The showcase of Edmodo and its features was actually only a small fraction of that 40-minute introduction, the main focus was the discussion around appropriate behaviour and responsible use of the site. The were quite receptive of my expectations, especially the one which stated that they would need to show positive involvement in our online classroom
I guess we will see how this change works out.