Being in touch with your students is a goal of any good teacher. You want to know what your students are interested in so that you can try to make use of it in your classroom. I talked to a teacher last week about a lesson she was doing in which students turned in a meme they created as their finished project. What a great way to get kids to see big picture and create something using their new knowledge. I have to ask though… why did the assignment sheet say Make a “Meme”? Why is the word meme separated? Why is it singled out or made to look special? I’d be willing to bet that to her students, memes are not anything new or special or exciting. They’re a normal part of everyday. They offer a laugh, are easy to share with friends, and might even be the only way your students get their news. We do this to our students all the time; make their normal seem abnormal. We’ve got to stop. No more, Is That “Tweet” Worthy? worksheets or “emoji” activities. Embrace their culture. Instead have them summarize the novel you read in 140 words or less by actually using Twitter. Encourage them to use emojis in their book review, what better way is there to show how it made them feel? Don’t force them to make memes, make it an option. I’d be willing to bet that your cool, hip, trendy lesson plan is old news to them, so just embrace it and leave the quotation marks at home.
Pinterest is an awesome tool for educators to share resources, lessons, and other ideas for their classes and classrooms, but are there other ways to use this site in the classroom? Of course there are! Odds are your students know what Pinterest is. Whether it be a horror story of mom’s latest Pinterest recipe, like this one my mom thought we'd give to all the distant relatives for Christmas, or the arts and crafts project no one wants to mention, I’d be willing to bet Pinterest isn’t just a blip on the average student’s radar. So how can we utilize this awesome tool to drive learning? Pinterest may have one of the greatest organizational designs I’ve ever used. Your homepage is specifically designed to deliver pins you’ve marked as interesting to you or that you search frequently. Past that, you can follow specific topics, people, or even down to one person’s specific board. And that’s not even all. You can create your own boards, and as many of them as you’d like. This comes in handy when you remember that website from 3 months ago and really need to find it fast. If you’ve pinned it to your resources board, it’ll be right there where you left it. So what does this look like for your students? Let’s ask Pinterest! What about using it to collect useful resources for a project? It could be a get-to-know-you activity for the whole year if all your students followed one another. Maybe you could use it to organize projects and topics. The ideas are endless, and I’d love to hear your ideas! Happy Pinning!
Your Personal Learning Network may arguably be your most valuable resource in not only your career, but in your personal life as well. As I take my next steps to becoming a teacher, I have begun making conscious efforts to expand my PLN as much as possible. Here are some ways I've done this.
1. Twitter Chats
#iaedchat is something I was not unfamiliar with before this semester, however I finally began to utilize the awesome opportunity this August. Because I was very involved in studying education in high school and come from a family of educators, I knew about #iaedchat when it first began. I periodically tuned in to it on Sunday nights throughout high school and my first year of college, but never felt compelled to get involved. Since I did, it has opened so many new doors. Not only was I able to contribute to the crucial conversations being had by educators across Iowa and beyond, but I also found this Twitter Chat to be a great way to get connected with other educators and expand my PLN. This resource is great now, as an education student, because it allows me to learn from those in the field and over a wide variety of age levels, locations, and content areas. In my future career it will still allow me to learn from my fellow teachers but will also be a way for me to share my knowledge and experience. The chat I participated in on November 6th was very interesting as the topic was Parent Teacher Conferences. This is not something I have much of any knowledge on, so I learned a lot from watching, talking to educators, and contributing my ideas which resulted in feedback.
2. Using Twitter to Connect One-on-One
During the #iaedchat on November 6th I had the opportunity to ask a principle at a school in Iowa about his experiences with student-led parent teacher conferences. I replied to a tweet of his during the chat and he urged me to directly message him to discuss his experiences. He has had a lot of experience with many forms of conferences and had a lot to share. Being open to reach out to educators on Twitter like this in the future will help me to continue expanding my PLN as well as learn from others’ experiences in addition to my own.
3. Creating Educational Pinterest Boards
Pinterest is a great tool not only to share and find ideas on a variety of topics, but also makes it easy to organize these ideas. In the past I have used Pinterest to collect holiday gift ideas, online shop, and occasionally send hints to my parents about what I wanted for dinner. I have just begun utilizing this great tool for educational purposes as well. I can search a variety of educational topics and hundreds of people have probably pinned or shared their ideas on Pinterest. When I find things I am interested in, want to go back to read later, or know I’ll use a lot I can pin them to boards I have created by category. I can share these boards as well. Maybe in the future I will use Pinterest with my students to share resources or websites I think they would benefit from using. I can also use my boards to share with other educators.
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