Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, cross posted to Langwitches Blog
This post is part of C.M Rubin’s monthly series in the Huffington post: The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs. This month we are answering the following prompt:
Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?
As in previous posts in the series, I am examining the prompt from a semantic point of view and ask myself immediately: What do we consider ” managing a successful classroom” (and even what does it successful mean)? I also stumbled immediately over the word “CAN” and cringed when I wondered if it could say “Should” or “Must”? Semantics aside and out with an easy and short response: YES, social media can play a role in a successful classroom.
social-mediaMaybe a better question would be: Why is Social Media not playing a larger role in managing successful classrooms?
  • Social Media is one venue (of many) to LEARN… why should it not play a role in our schools?
  • Our students are gravitating (on their own) to Social Media for learning on their own terms outside of schools… why should we not take advantage of that for their learning in schools?
  • Learning for the 22nd century increasingly means being social and connected… why should we not take advantage of the platform to support that kind of social and connected learning ?
  • Social Media adds so many layers of depth to traditional learning strategies to include modern/now literacies… why would we not want to expose, facilitate and support our students in becoming literate in the area of global, network, media, information literacies and digital citizenship?
  • Communication has changed in the world around us. It is more visual, it is more concise, it is shareable, it is exponential in terms of the reach of our communication…how is this reflected in our current curriculum and pedagogies? (to quote Heidi Hayes Jacobs: “What year are we preparing our students for?”)
  • Information has changed our lives. The way we have access to it, the way we filter it, the way we consume it, the way we need to evaluate it, the way we produce it, the way we disseminate it. Social Media plays an integral part in the way information flows in our daily lives… why would we not give the learners in our classroom the opportunity to play, experiment, touch, mold, nurture, take apart, put together, create, disseminate, connect and learn to live and thrive in a world of exponential growth of information? Why are we not preparing our students with the critical skill of searching, not just information, but people trough our human networks.
  • The lines between our lives and “digital lives” are blurring at an accelerating speed, just as the difference between citizenship and “digital citizenship” is becoming hazier… why would we not embed authentic learning opportunities in our classroom to foster positive citizenship (analog and digital)?
  • The world is shrinking. Connecting, communicating and collaborating with people from around the world, due to technology, is sometimes easier than the same task involving people from the same geographic location… how can we not give our students the opportunities to broaden their geographic and cultural horizons by interacting beyond their culture, language and perspective

Take a look at some of my documentation over the past years from the trenches of Social Media in the Classroom:

3 Reasons Why You Should Share and 3 Things You can Do to Start Sharing

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

soapbox

I am back on my soapbox…

  • …because I continue to see great things happening in classrooms, but get blank stares, when I ask, if these things are being shared beyond the school building.
  • …because I watch as administrators feel the need to “protect” their faculty from “one more thing to do”.
  • …because I continue to hear fear of transparency, competition, privacy and technology skills and tech phobia.

share4 Setting up my soapbox to raise awareness of the “moral imperative of sharing” for teachers (Dean Shareski) goes back to his keynote in 2010 at the K-12 Online Conference. Since then I have stepped on that soapbox via my blog and at conferences advocating for the IMPORTANCE and NECESSITY of sharing.

George Couros, recently published 4 Reasons People Don’t Blog, which are in essence the same reasons why people don’t share (just substitute “blogging” for “sharing”)

  1. Blogging is useless
  2. I have no time
  3. I’m a private person
  4. No one cares what I have to say

He closes his blog post by pointing out the importance of sharing as an integral component of learning as well as underline “the willingness of others”

I have learned a ton not only from my own blog, but from benefitting from others that have been willing to share their teaching and learning with me, and because of that, as Dean Shareski stated, I am better off for the willingness of others to share.

shareI DO want to understand WHY it seems so hard for some many educators to share…but only in order to build an airtight argument that SHARING best practices, reflections and documentation of learning is the essential fabric of education and the building block of networking, growing and moving forward.

moral-imperative-sharing2

We need to stop looking at all the reasons why educators DON’T SHARE and start looking at and DOING all the things WHY we NEED TO SHARE.

So here is my list: 3 Things Why You (as an Educator) Should Share

1. The shift of a culture of consumers to producers is built on sharing and disseminating.
Our world, and in particular the world of our students, is build on the culture of sharing. Ex. Sharing your status on facebook, adding a book review on Amazon, leaving a comment on a product you purchased online, photos on Instagram and videos on Snapchat and YouTube. Educators need to acknowledge the shift outside of the classroom and take advantage of the shift for learning with our students.

2. Painting the picture of teaching and learning in your school
Too many other people (non-educators, policy makers, politicians, media, etc.) are painting a grim picture of the teaching profession, teaching in general, schools and student learning. It is time to become our own storytellers. Sharing student successes and teachers’ professional and continuous learning MUST overshadow and outnumber the negative press and reputation that has been building up.

3. The future of learning is social and build on and around Professional Learning Networks.
Networking is built on a concept of sharing. Networking is defined by the Merriam_Webster dictionary as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions”. In order for an exchange to take place, someone has to step up to SHARE. Without sharing there is no network. Someone has to give and someone has to take, without giving the machinery of how a network works will not function. In our Information Age, where information is being generated at exponential speed, we need to rely on a network to filter quality and relevant information for us. It is our responsibility to be the filter and curator for others as well.

sharingSo from 3 reasons WHY you should share… on to 3 Things you can do to start sharing…

share63 Things What You (as an Educator) Can Do to Start Sharing

1. Stop resisting change
We need educators, in particular administrators, to stop resisting change, take a deeper look at the world around them and LEAD by modeling! Sharing is and needs to be a method, a strategy and a technique to improve teaching and learning practices, benefiting an entire school learning community.

2. Create a workflow to document teaching and learning
Great things are happening in your classroom and in your schools. Learn to embed documenting best practices, student learning and action research in a digital form to be able to easily disseminate via a blog, twitter, photo or video sharing site.

3. Start small.
Add a comment on a blog you read, share a resource, a link, a book or an article you have learned from on Twitter. Let students take over in documenting learning in their classroom. Use your cell phone to take photos of learning in action, write a descriptive comment under the photo and share on a blog, Instagram, a classroom site, blog, Twitter or Facebook account.

share3You can start sharing right here by adding your reasons WHY educators should share and WHAT you can DO to start sharing?

Global Project: Visualize Poetry Around the World

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog

visualize poetry around the world

Description of Project:

Based on Taylor Mali’s visit to The American School of Sao Paulo, Meryl Zeidenberg and I were inspired to amplify students’ poetry writing by adding a visual and audio layer as well as connect them globally to other students’ poems.

We are launching the Visualize Poetry Around The World project and are looking forward to connecting teachers and students, bringing global awareness and encouraging them to look beyond their own backyard and their own perspective.

global-awarenessObjective:

  • Encourage students’ global awareness and their ability to share their traditions and experiences based on their cultural heritage or geographic locations
  • Support Third Culture Kids and expats to express their unique experiences through poetry and make the advantages and challenges of International living accessible to geographically rooted children and vice-versa

TCKs.jpg

rooted.jpg

Process:

  1. Become a member of the project by joining the wiki. Questions? Contact me
  2. Become familiar with or already have familiarity with Taylor Mali’s lessons/poems/workshops.
  3. Become familiar with project objectives, expectations, timeline & mini-lessons
  4. Complete task

[ There is no specific beginning or ending date for this project. Each teacher contributes his/her students video poems on their own time to the wiki platform. All we ask is that part of the commitment is to share, connect and give quality feedback to other students’ contributions ]

Task Breakdown:

  1. create poem
  2. find/create images & record voice
  3. publish on project wiki
  4. connect and give feedback

Expectations:

  • expect quality student work using poetic devices
  • students create poem based on one or more of the provided prompts
  • students visualize poem with quality images and overlaying poem text with author’s voice
  • strict observance of copyright conventions and citations.
  • contribution of final student work to collaborative platform
  • participate in feedback of student work.

Time Commitment:

  • up to 80 minutes- write poem
  • 80 minute class: Students present their poems to class (teacher and peer feedback). Students re-edit after feedback.
  • up to 2 -80 minutes class periods digital production

Third Culture Kid Poem Example

TCKs.jpg

I am from…

I am from Germany, Argentina, USA and Brazil

I am from Germany. From the warm Bretzel with melted butter and the sound my shoes make when going for a walk in the dense forest.

I am from Argentina. From the crowds on Florida and Lavalle and the smell of a Bife de Chorizo at a friend’s asado. I am from the smell of Jasmine as I step off the colectivo on a warm Spring day in early December.

I am from the United States. From the smell of salty and buttery popcorn at the movie theaters. The wide streets and gigantic parking lots that fill up to capacity after Thanksgiving.

I am from Brazil. From the language that is almost understandable, but different as if listening under water or with glasses of the wrong prescription strength. I am from feeling almost close, but through the fog so far away.

I am also from lighting Hanukkah candles as I am smelling Christmas in the air and buying Charlie Brown Christmas trees on the 24th day of December.

I speak German, Spanish and English. Ich bin from Argentina y el vos. I am from speaking in all the 3 languages in one sentence without having to be held hostage by staying in one alone.

I am from leaving on a gray, cold and rainy day in October in autumn. Racing along the runway, up up into the sky towards spring air and towards a country far away and forever closer to me.

I am from arriving after a 24 hour journey to a tiny village, at the foot of the Katzenbuckel- The Cat’s Arched Back” where my grandmother anxiously awaits at the door, welcoming the return of the world travelers.

I am from changes, the differences, the friends made along the way. I am from the opportunities to see wonders of the world, tasting, smelling different ways of life. I am from the different faces of the world and history.

I am neither from here nor there or even there. I am destined to be torn forever between Fernweh and Heimweh, from always being far from.

Geographically Rooted Poem Sample

rooted.jpg

I am from the United States – New Haven, CT- where the imposing, old, stone, university architecture validated my fairy tale-laden child mind.

I am from the warm, loving scent of Aunt Martha’s cookies baking in the flat below.

I am from the one mile, all weather walk, to and from elementary school, where urban flora stubbornly persisted through sidewalk cracks.

I am from the grassy field of the local schoolyards where the kids from my street gathered and grew up, after school, until the street lights flicked on.

I am from the marvel and curiosity of tales from the old country spun out in a mixture of Yiddish and English around my grandmother’s kitchen table with the men drinking schnapps, the women tea.

I am from learning French because it is a “romance” language.

I am from learning Portuguese because of a Brazilian romance.

I am from the security of knowing my way around and where everything is.

I am from the frustration of not knowing the the colors, smells and sounds of everywhere else except from books and movies.

Ready to participate? Head over to the project wiki to sign up.

Designing New Literacies

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

designing-new-literacies-tolisanoIn Mike FIsher and my keynote/workshop last week at the Wildly Excited Conference at the Grand Rapids State University in Michigan, I shared the following blended sketchnote (blended= self-drawn doodles/sketches combined with a photograph). Participants were asked to take a look at the image and use the Visible Thinking Routine I see, I think, I wonder from Project Zero. They shared their thinking in a backchannel in a Today’s Meet room.

Before looking at my image annotations and reading the examples/ excerpt of the backchannel below with teachers’ responses, consider going through the exercise yourself. Take a few minutes to intensely look at the image above and follow the thinking routine: I see…, I think…, I wonder… Share your responses in the comment section below, adding your thoughts…sharing and making your thinking visible to others.

annotated-sketchnote

How could you use these techniques shown or demonstrated in your own classroom?

  • sketchnoting
  • visual prompts
  • I see, I think, I wonder routine
  • Backchanneling
  • annotated sketchnoting (or other visuals?)

Teacher Visible Thinking Routine responses

  • One of the difficulties of education our students learn differently than we do,
  • I see an interest in connecting internationally.
  • I wonder what amazing things could happen in classrooms if we all started being more techie and digital in our classrooms?
  • I think it is about the new age of learners
  • I see people handing boxes up to a person standing on them. To me this means building a learning network.
  • I think this is where the digital learning age is headed. I wonder if I’m ready for it
  • Artwork: its Silva. Her family, life. Moving, lectures, author, etc.
  • Are books of no value anymore?
  • how do I use this when I can only get computers once every two weeks
  • Fast paced graphic learning like they are used to. Keep things moving!
  • I think today’s kids brains are wired differently than most teachers over the age of 30.
  • The drawing is busy a lot going on and represents changes in technology and many options of technology
  • I see various ways of gaining/sharing knowledge. I think it represents the current work. I wonder how available for kids in poverty.
  • I think my processing speed needs to incease!
  • I see what students are bombarded with on a daily basis
  • I know this is a worldwide reality and it is exciting, but no wonder our kids are ADHD.
  • I see lots of possibilities!!!!
  • collaboration
  • We need to change our way of teaching. We need to teach more about accessing information.
  • I wonder: when do we allow our brains to have a break from all of those distractions
  • I think this is an accurate picture of our society today- lots of different ways to interact and connect with a variety of people
  • students now have the ability to visit other places and interact with others virtually, without leaving their bedroom or the classroom
  • Global learning and global appreciation is more easily obtainable.
  • Students can use various ways to present their thoughts.
  • We can connect with everyone across the world. We no longer need to be in our own classroom.
  • new literacies: apps, threads, global literacy, digital collaboration, graphics, imagery and film, multiple languages, software and programs
  • I see a variety of media.
  • I see the ink connecting with classes across the district or within our building could be a small start
  • A bunch of disconnected images
  • The power of learning in different ways.
  • Having the luxury of so many ways/strategies to help students in their learning. Looking at learning as evolving.
  • Open a book to learn new things!
  • I wonder how I can use these strategies with classroom with young ones who have special needs.
  • I see a selfie being taken.
  • There are a variety of items that are connected, but if I don’t have a way to connect them they float out in space.
  • I see connections between teacher facilitation and individual work.
  • #world wild learning!
  • when I look at the movie projector I think that many young kids don’t even know what it is!
  • Holy overwhelmed Batman…
  • The tough part is when the students start text talking. I see that a lot in our chats in the online classroom.
  • So many ways available for us to teach and learn.
  • I see flags and think I know those countries and I wonder why are those there, is that where she has been?
  • It’s like going on vacation to other places without leaving your room.
  • Global learning can take place when using technology and connects students with much more information than ever before!
  • Students have so much in their minds!
  • Constant scrolling messages distract ability to sort out my own thoughts!
  • Globalization–speaking multiple languages is important to connect–by plane and/or virtually!
  • Students are learning so much each day through so many mediums. How do we help them prioritize so it changes them?
  • Students learning in the classroom is constantly changing to the digital world.
  • Represents the many ways people are connected.
  • I don’t get the rain clouds in the middle
  • Students can communicate all around the world
  • I see what someone brings to the classroom
  • I see a lot of experiences. I think this looks like a great way to describes oneself through visuals. I wonder who drew this
  • Connecting the world through digital learning and accessing new ideas. A bit overwhelming
  • I think technology can pave a path toward global awareness.
  • Learning is global and there are infinite ways to share
  • I think the drawing is overwhelming
  • It’s the brain of most of our students
  • That image looks like the information overload that most of our kids are living with on a daily basis. 😉
  • Many options!
  • Reminds me of the book the Lexus and the olive tree
  • It helps us link or connect our learning to others
  • This is a lot to take in, but this is the way our kids learn now. Very different from what I am use to
  • Great for discussion! Visuals can say so much
  • I think: multitasking and information overload
  • I see literacy becoming more technology based and global. I wonder how it will impact students’ ability to communicate in person.
  • I see learning 2.0
  • Our small learning community is focusing on global cultural and we could reach out to other countries
  • I see interaction in person and remotely
  • Linking ideas together globally
  • There r endless ways to teach and communicate w students
  • The image seems busy to my list-making mind. I’d love the pictures to be in a row.
  • I Think about educational chances
  • to me it represents learning and the different possible ways to learn
  • This picture reminds me of my brain right now! And many of my students!
  • I see interesting artwork that is very symbolic
  • Links to what is already known in the students’ lives, multiple ways of learning and multiple ways of achieving literacy.
  • I see students connected to the whole world. I think I want to do this! I wonder how I can adapt it for my third graders.
  • World traveler who is equipped with technology, family and friends
  • I think this represents our ability to gather knowledge from all over the world using technology
  • Helps all types of learners
  • I see the ways the world is connected
  • Sensory/information overload
  • the power of tapping expertise worldwide
  • Connecting multiculturally.
  • merging the old with the new in innovative ways
  • Digital media brings it all together
  • Very global…learning around the world
  • I see lots of ways to communicate

Against Technology (the word)

by Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Heidi-3-c-croppedUbiquitous in every sphere of education; the word “technology” is splattered loosely. No subliminal messaging here, the term is to mean that schools with wifi, tablets, one to one laptop programs, and smart boards are preparing students for the future. Simply having a computer doesn’t mean that the curriculum and instruction are contemporary and relevant. Students can be using the internet to research irrelevant and dated content. A word processor does not ensure quality writing competence. When a group of middle school students runs around campus with flip cameras, it is unlikely they will produce a first rate documentary. Perhaps there is some kind of magical thinking, that digital tools will prompt innovative outcomes.I share this concern as a firmly committed advocate for the modernization of learning opportunities.

laptopsMost telling is our current obsession with dated assessment forms. Teachers are not encouraged to innovate when their institutions are pushing time traveling to the past. Although mission statements are packed with phrases like “tomorrow’s school” and “careers of the future” and “global preparedness”, the truth is that all fifty states in my country value assessments that are basically identical in format to those used thirty years ago.Multiple choice, short answer essay prompts to de-contextualized paragraphs are the raison de vivre. Some national publishers are creating on-line testing, but the items are still the same type as those used when standardized testing first was developed. Certainly our learners need ACCESS to the global portals and dynamic applications available through digital media in order to become literate and connected, but access is insufficient.

We should pay attention to school faculties, leaders, and individual teachers who are actively and boldly upgrading curriculum content to reflect timely issues and problems and crafting modern assessments such as digital-media-global project based learning opportunities. Website curation, app design, global network research, and video/audio production are indicative of modern learning environments not only for students but for their teachers as well. What might happen if in our discourse we replace the loose use of the word technology with the phrase contemporary learning environments?

Cross-Posted to ASCD edge.

Minecraft: Research Product

Earlier this week, a member of my digital network, Brent Coley ( @brentcoley ), shared the following tweet where a student created a Minecraft video that represented a virtual tour of Mission San Diego de Alcala (Wikipedia link):

 

 

Link to video outside of tweet.

 

I was absolutely blown away by what this 4th grader created and I thought it was a good representation of what a research project product that wasn’t a paper looked like.  I’ve previously blogged about Infographics as a research product and I advocate vociferously for digital product replacement thinking when I work with teachers. If the outcome is building knowledge and demonstrating that students can both investigate a topic and learn from it, whoever said that research had to result in a paper?

 

The research standards in the Common Core are usually just the three writing standards associated with Research to Build and Present Knowledge. However, I always lump writing standard six in there as well, as it deals with how writing can be presented in a digital format/presentation. I want to share the fourth-grade-specific Common Core writing standards here, standard seven from the Research Standards, and standard six from the Production and Distribution of Writing section:

 

W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

 

W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

 

As you read through the rest of this blog post (and hopefully after you’ve viewed the video), read with these standards as lenses. Ask yourself, “did this student meet the standard?” “Did this student provide evidence of what they know and are able to do within the confines of this standard?”

 

In my book, Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?, I describe several questions to ask when assigning digital student work:

  1. What is the learning objective?
  2. Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?
  3. Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task? What additional skills might have to be considered in order to engage this upgrade?
  4. Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
  5. Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?
  6. Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?

 

I wanted to blog about this student’s Minecraft project through the lens of these six considerations, annotating what this fourth grader was able to accomplish.

 

 

  • What is the learning objective?

 

      • The learning objective here was to learn about the Mission San Diego de Alcala. This student had to learn the layout, information about the different areas, and be able to speculate about the people that lived there.
      • This student also had to learn specific information about the founder of the Mission, Father Junipero Serra, as he both introduces the video and then explains several of the artifacts contained within the video.

 

  • Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?

 

      • In this case, I believe the learning was enhanced exponentially. Besides the research to build knowledge about the mission, this student had to do a brick by brick recreation to create the video.
      • In the comments section of the video, the student’s father includes information about the student having to develop his own system for creating the texture of the tiles on the roof.
      • This obviously had to be tightly scripted for both production and the narration, so the writing definitely occurred at some point. Everything in the video though is beyond the writing…beyond the end point of the traditional research product.
      • In terms of worth? You tell me. Was this digital upgrade a worthy replacement?

 

  • Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task?

 

      • The traditional version of this research would have resulted in a paper, most likely, perhaps a diorama or detailed schematic drawing. In this case, using Minecraft, the detail involved demanded a time-intensive process that resulted in a very professional product. The decisions this student made to develop the detailed depiction all involved discernment and critical thinking in some way. Big time rigor here.
      • Additionally, the student used multiple digital tools to get to the final product: Minecraft to create the representation, an audio tool to record the narration, and a screen-capturing tool to record the video. All of these individually would raise the thinking level of the task because they all represent learning that is above and beyond the expectation of the standard and the traditional version of the research. Together, they represent problem solving nirvana.
    • Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
      • I get the sense from the comments on the Youtube page that the student engaged in some conversation with his dad to create the video, though I don’t see specific evidence of collaboration or communication.
      • As for creative problem solving, the student’s father references an issue with the roof tiles that the student had to discover a solution too, but the entire video also represents a finished product that is the end product of trial and error thinking. If you’ve ever been in Minecraft, you know that you have to try stuff out and see if it works. Once you discover what works, you build, literally, on it.
      • In terms of creative thinking, there’s so much here. From decisions about the design and interactive elements, to details about Father Serra’s artifacts, to the layout and navigation of the Mission for the viewer of the video, this student had a lot on his plate to think about. The finished product demonstrates extremely high levels of thinking and decision making.

 

  • Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?

 

    • This I don’t know. I’m not privy to the project’s parameters or to the population of students that were assigned this project and their access to / equity within digital tools or connected access points.
    • I do know that this student seems to be fairly comfortable creating within the digital realm, which suggests an early affinity / comfort with digital tools at a young age that allows him to demonstrate learning at this level even in the fourth grade.
    • Based on the comments from dad, I’m speculating that this student has no issues with computer / internet access and that it is just a part of his world.
  • Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?
    • Again, since I don’t know anything about what was assigned, I don’t know how much the students contributed to the design of the project.
    • Even if the design of the Mission and its subsequent creation within the Minecraft system was with the help of his father, note that the standard (#6) advocates for “guidance and support from adults.”

 

In the book, I also recommend some questions to ask when assessing student work, two of which revolve around how students are reflecting on what they are creating and how they are attributing their source material, both of which are important components of research.

 

In this case, there is little evidence of either. I was hoping to learn from where the student found his information. (And I was secretly hoping to discover that he used multiple verified sources.) I was also hoping to learn why he chose to use Minecraft to create his product versus other available web tools. Perhaps eventually this could be added to the Youtube comments. If I were the teacher, I might ask for this as a separate component of the task.

 

All in all, though, I must say, that this effort is serendipitous. I’m struck by both the level of quality and the apparent level of learning of this student. I hope that those reading this are understanding that this is what a 21st Century demonstration of learning looks like. This is what is possible when we relinquish the limits of traditional practice. This is what is possible when we begin orbiting the boxes that we’ve asked students to think outside of for decades. This is 21st Century Learning.

 

Kudos to this kid and his dad. What they created was future-forward and just plain awesome. I subscribed to their Youtube channel. I can’t wait to see what they will do next!

Follow Mike On Twitter: @fisher1000

Mike’s Website: Digigogy.com

Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?

Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then…

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

It is the responsibility of all educators to model good digital citizenship for their students. Especially when it comes to copyright, plagiarism and intellectual property. The waters are murky. Not being familiar with online digital rights and responsibilities (hey, teachers did not grow up with the Internet being around), educators are wading through uncharted waters (hey, I did not know that I could not just google an image to use. If someone puts it up online it is free for the taking). That does not mean they can close their eyes and pretend life is the same or that the same rules apply to online versus offline use of copyrighted material with their students.

It is every educator’s responsibility to become familiar , observe and model for their students! It is also every educator’s responsibility to not lump in all educational use of copyrighted material under the claim of Fair Use (hey, I am using it in school, I am not making money off of it…) . It is not that simple…

flowchart2

I have written about copyright on this blog many time. Some highlighted posts are:

The waters are murky, it is not an easy topic. While there are some clear cut rules about copyrighted material, Creative Commons and Public Domain content, Fair Use in Education are supported by GUIDELINES, not clear cut rules!

flowchart3

Together with the Academic Technology Team at Graded- The American School of São Paulo, the importance of developing a school policy in regards to copyright was discussed. It was not just about developing a policy, but also about:

  • raising awareness of copyright issues in a digital world
  • bringing relevance to classroom teacher at all levels and subject areas in understanding copyright in digital education spaces and seeing it not just as part of the domain of a ‘technology person”
  • helping teachers shift from previous practices regarding copyrighted material in an analog world
  • internalize ethical behavior regarding intellectual property available in an online environment

We did our due diligence in researching and gain a better understanding of how other educational organizations were dealing with copyright policy creation, teacher education and support.

Meryl Zeidenberg, the school’s library coordinator, and I started working on taking the gathered research to inform the development, articulation and design of an “If this… Then that…”type flowchart to better support teachers in making decision when using different types of media in teaching, blogging, presentations or projects.

flowchart4

We have ubiquitous digital access, ease of duplication and distribution of information. We encourage students and faculty alike to write, record, and film for global audiences, thus ushering in a new era of copyright consciousness.

The following infographic chart was developed with an introduction of a New Era of Copyright Consciousness and a suggested simplified flow to follow:

  • create your own media (then you don’t have to worry about infringing on someone else’s copyright)
  • search for public domain media (then you don’t have to worry about copyright, since it has been voluntarily released or has expired. No worries about giving proper attribution or citing the source either)
  • search within the Creative Commons domain (make sure you double check requirements under the license: attribution?, non-derivative? non-commercial? etc.)
  • determine if your use of the copyrighted material can fall under Fair Use?

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[The flowchart is an attempt in creating a clear route to follow to something that is not as clear cut in nature. If you choose to use it, please do so in the spirit of such disclaimer.]

Copyright Flowchart

Building Content Knowledge: Collaborate and Curate

cross posted to Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Mark Engstrom. 8th grade Geography teacher and Assistant Principal at Graded- The American School of São Paulo, has redesigned his entire course.

Students move through the modules of this blended learning course on Geography at their own pace.  They build out content knowledge using a Personalized Map (through google maps) and the content delivered through this Digital Learning Farm method will be curated so that they can build out multiple pins on their map.  This content is then used as content knowledge to increase their understanding of the region.
He wanted to experiment with a different type of note taking to add to students’ documentation of gaining subject specific content knowledge. 

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The class was divided into 3 groups. Each group contained one  person responsible to contribute by :

  • taking  notes on one google doc- each has a column
  • adding raw data (statistics, facts, charts, graphs, etc.)
  • adding images that visualized what was being talked about
  • writing on the backchannel
  • asking questions
  • linking to the course’s Essential Questions

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Take look at the following video summarizing the class.

It is incredibly insightful to be going through and analyzing the backchannel chat after the class is over. It gives you a better understanding of:

  • what students heard
  • what students felt was important to capture
  • the discussion that evolved in the backchannel alone
  • the connections students made and shared

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It was now back into each individual student’s court to CURATE their own notes. Students had access to all  documents from each group as well as the backchannel. It was up to them to go trough the information and take the pieces that they deemed important to add to their content knowledge.

Digital curation

 is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.Digital curation establishes, maintains and adds value to repositories of digital data for present and future use.This is often accomplished by archivists, librarians, scientists, historians, and scholars. Enterprises are starting to utilize digital curation to improve the quality of information and data within their operational and strategic processes

Curating information has become a critical skills as part of information literacy. The ability of finding, evaluating, analyzing, remixing,  organizing and archiving information is more important than ever in the information overload era. The amount of information we are confronted with and that is being thrown at us is exponentially growing with no sign of stopping nor slowing down. We need to find ways to support students in becoming  curators of information.

One of the students, Ben, observed the following as he was going through the notes from the Backchannel group:

I found these very interesting because Florens and Tibet really try to link what is happening in India to our life in São Paulo which for me is a smarter way to learn things; by comparing them with your everyday life.

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Socratic Seminar and The Backchannel

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

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Humanities teacher, Shannon Hancock, at Graded, the American School of São Paulo, read and worked through The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo with her 8th grade students.

Not only did they read the text, learn about literary elements, but also learned to articulate and discuss in a professional manner the text with their peers. Shannon chose to use the Socratic Method, specifically a Socratic Seminar (Inner/Outer Circle Fishbowl) to hand the learning over to her students. She stressed to them: ” Educators don’t need to have all the answers, it is about asking the right questions.” Wikipedia explains the Socratic Seminar as follows:

This approach is based on the belief that participants seek and gain deeper understanding of concepts in the text through thoughtful dialogue rather than memorizing information that has been provided for them. While Socratic Circles can differ in structure, and even in name, they typically involve the following components: a passage of text that students must read beforehand and two concentric circles of students: an outer circle and an inner circle. The inner circle focuses on exploring and analysing the text through the act of questioning and answering. During this phase, the outer circle remains silent. Students in the outer circle are much like scientific observers watching and listening to the conversation of the inner circle. When the text has been fully discussed and the inner circle is finished talking, the outer circle provides feedback on the dialogue that took place. This process alternates with the inner circle students going to the outer circle for the next meeting and vice versa. The length of this process varies depending on the text used for the discussion. The teacher may decide to alternate groups within one meeting, or they may alternate at each separate meeting.

Shannon prepared her classroom by physically arranging the desks in an inner and outer “circle”…

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… and prepared her students with the Socratic Seminar Norms for the discussion.

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We tweaked the traditional format of the Socratic Seminar to include a backchannel. A backchannel is a parallel discussion, a collectively shaped comment on some ongoing conversations, not that different than the outer circle described in the Socratic Seminar. The backchannel in this case was the secondary digital discussion of the literary text. One student was the backchannel moderator in charge of making sure that Today’s Meet was projected and refreshed properly on the screen.

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Watch the video below to catch a glimpse into Shannon’s classroom and their use of a backchannel for the first time.

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Reflection of the Backchannel as part of the whole class text discussion:

  • All students had opportunity to contribute to the conversation (even the “silent” outside circle)
  • (Shy) Students who had a harder time articulating orally their opinions in the “inner” circle were able to contribute in written form
  • The skills to listen, observe, document, contribute, read, write, add value, ask questions and respond to others in the backchannel, all at the same time, is not a skill we are born with. It requires exposure and practice.
  • The backchannel log, gives an opportunity to review and assess individual students beyond the “in-the-moment”. It also gives students an opportunity to review and reflect on the experience.
  • The backchannel exposes students to a collaborative writing environment.
  • Possible extensions: Assign a student (or a group of students) to be the “Backchannel Cleanup“, responsible for saving, copying and pasting the log into a shared document. They then edit and format the log by deleting duplicate, unrelated or non-comprehensible comments. They can also organize the comments according to topics.

Analysis of the Backchannel Log:

There were many different layers going on in the Backchannel.

  1. Observation and comments about the Socratic Seminar behaviors
  2. Observations of literary discussion elements
  3. Documentation of inner circle discussion
  4. Added commentary of own opinions.
  5. Parallel conversation going in backchannel and inner circle.

Please note that the screenshots below are not in chronological order. They are shown to illustrate some of the points of the reflection and thoughts about the use of the backchannel.

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I must admit, that I was in complete awe of the students and their teacher of how well prepared they were to come together and have a serious literary discussion round. The Socratic Seminar lesson could have stood on its own without adding any further layer facilitated by technology. It was the quality of the teaching and learning already present that allowed the backchannel to add another quality layer.

I can’t help myself, but I am already dreaming of further amplification.

What if ..

  • What if the class connects with another class who is reading the same book.
  • What if the one of the class can potentially contribute yet another perspective (possibly due to culture or geographical location) to the understanding and comprehension of the text. (Ex. Could our Brazilian class not contribute the perspective of the controversy of the Alchemist book here in Brazil to a class located in Sweden, for example, reading the same book?)
  • What if half of the inner circle (the fish) is in one class and half of the inner circle is participating via Skype or Google Hangout from a different class? (Synchronous)
  • What if the backchannel is comprised of students from BOTH classes (synchronous (Today’s Meet) and asynchronous (Google Document)?

Interested? Let’s dream up another layer of collaborative reading, writing and discussing literary text.

iPhoneography: Photo Challenges, Ideas & Literacy

cross posted from Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

I have been facilitating an iPhoneography activity for our Middle Schoolers over the past two quarters.

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iPhoneography is defined by Wikipedia as:

iPhoneography is the art of creating photos with an Apple iPhone.This is a style of mobile photography that differs from all other forms of digital photography in that images are both shot and processed on the iOS device. It does not matter whether a photo is edited using different graphics applications or not

The class was 40 minutes long, which I divided into the following workflow:

  1. 10 minutes of challenge explanation
  2. 20 minutes of “in the field” photography
  3. 10 minutes of photoapping and sharing of final images

We worked on:

  • basic photography tips, such as contrast, brightness, depth of field and saturation
  • photoapping (sending one image through several apps to achieve a desired result)
  • storytelling
  • communicating via images

In addition, the class discussion, activities and reflections  lend themselves to:

  • copyright (digital citizenship)
  • photo etiquette (digital citizenship)
  • (exponential) producer-culture (media & information literacy)
  • editing of media (media & information literacy)
  • visual storytelling (media literacy)
  • instant sharing (network literacy, digital citizenship)
  • photoapping (tech fluency)

I built the class around photo challenges (There are many, many photo challenge suggestions shared online… just google them. I also use an app iPhotography Assignment Generator) :

  • Feet
  • Selfies
  • Something green
  • Depth of Field
  • Clouds
  • Forced Perspective
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Reflection
  • Black and White
  • Angle & Perspective
  • Cartoons

What’s next?

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During the last nine weeks of the school year, I will be offering another activity for Middle School students. We will focus our efforts on the infamous Cultural Phenomena of the Selfie. We would love to make contact with classes from around the world to exchange selfies in order to look for cultural trends, best photography tips and overall give our students an opportunity to redefine the concept beauty.

Interested to connect and collaborate with my students about Selfies? Interested in “just” contributing selfies? Get in contact with me via Twitter (@langwitches) or via this blog.

Take a look at some of the challenges I shared with students and examples below. (Thank you  and credits to all the photographers from iPhoneography! Ana Luiza, Ale, Laura, Vicki, Anna, Fiona, Hannah, Ian, Patricio, Lara, Ida, Giovanna, Ana Clara, Manuela, Gabriela, Belen, Laura, Lauren, Isabel, Martina, Luiza)

Look on down…Feet, Feet and More Feet

Let’s take a look at our feet today.

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Why feet you might ask? …Why not?
Sometimes it is not “just” about the object in your photograph, but about the STORY behind it.

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It is about the story “your feet” tell.
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I wanted to share with you the following blog, with a truly inspirational post about : Why Take Self- Portraits of your Feet?
Your mission today is to tell a story with a picture of (your) feet.
Colors… Colors… Colors… Our world is colorful. Photography allows us to focus in on one element of our world and bring it to the foreground to enjoy without distractions. A photographer leads the eyes of the viewer to something that otherwise he/she might not have noticed.Let’s focus on the color green.
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There are entire Pinterest Boards dedicated to the color green.

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You have all seen these photos. Only part of the photograph is in focus, the rest seems blurry and further away. That is called in photography terms “Depth of Field”.
“Depth of Field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.” (Wikipedia)
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Let’s work on photoapping today.
use any app you would like or try out this new (free) one Pixlr Express+
After you sent your photo through one, two or three apps, use a Pic Collage app (like PicStitch) to show BOTH pictures and email them to me to upload and showcase them on our Pinterest Board
Let’s look up today! Up, up, up to the clouds. It is ok if we have beautiful blue skies in São Paulo… make it your challenge of the week to take a photo of interesting clouds, photoapp it and send it to me via email to be included on our Pinterest Board.
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Ever heard of “forced perspective”?Definition according to Wikipedia:

Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, filmmaking and architecture. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera

Let’s look at lots of examples

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Today you will complete a Scavenger Hunt!
You will roam campus to take one image for each one of the assignments to complete the hunt.

  • Once you have images for all assignments, import to PicCollage app and label the image with the title of the assignment.
  • E-mail me the final image from PicCollage.
  • The time stamp of the email will confirm the winning photographer.

Photograph the following assignments (Total of 7 images):

  1. cold
  2. funny
  3. brave
  4. light
  5. fuzzy
  6. jumps
  7. separated

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It is the photographer’s job to show something that others do not see in their photograph.
Today’s challenge is to capture a reflection.It can be an intentional reflection or a reflection that normally we would run by and might see it.
Let’s see how creative you will be.
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“Selfie” was voted Oxford’s Dictionaries word of the year in 2013.

“a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”

What types of selfies are out there?

  • outstretched arm
  • duckface
  • mirror
  • “tongue”
  • smile/pout
  • tilted head
  • peace sign
  • sign language for “I love you”
  • rapper fingers
  • eyes squinting
  • winking
  • funny face
  • shadow
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Definition of a Silhouette by Wikipedia

 A silhouette is the image of a person, an object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject.

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Perspective Challenge

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Sometimes ordinary photos can be transformed (edited) with just a few adjustments. Check if your favorite photoediting app has adjustments for

  • Contrast
  • Saturation
  • Brightness

Suggested Apps:

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