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The GIN (Global Issues Network) conference brought together an amazing group of young people, all united in their desire to change the world for the better and collaboratively find solutions to the world’s problems.
The Global Issues Network (GIN) empowers young people to collaborate locally, regionally and globally to create solutions for global issues. Each year, thousands of students worldwide engage in GIN-related activities.
I had the opportunity to work directly with students during two breakout sessions about the use of Social Media (Thank you Lisa Goochee for your support and participation) Students had been researching, planning and working together on a solution under a chosen topic listed in the twenty global problems identified by Jean-François Rischard in his book High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002).
They had created video trailers showcasing their projects and prepared presentations to share with their fellow GIN conference attendees from International schools all over Central and South America.
How could these students:
- reach an audience beyond the conference attendees?
- strategically build a network to connect with other students interested in global issues?
- disseminate their challenges, solutions and ideas to receive feedback and gain support?
- make contact with NGOs, experts in their field of interest or potential funding partners?
- continue working with other teams and schools to continue to grow their projects beyond the physical dates of a face to face conference?
The answer: Building a social media network. While there are many different social media platforms that anyone can use to build a network in order to affect social change, the basic idea behind the potential of connecting, collaborating, communicating, crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is similar to all platforms.
- Create a “storefront”, a profile or bio to let others know who you are and what you stand for
- Build a network by strategically choosing people/organizations/companies to follow
- Encourage the “right” people to follow you back
- Contribute quality content
- Participate in conversations (give feedback, ask questions, add perspectives, add value)
- Build a brand (document your work, share , interact, inspire, present, showcase, etc.)
- Grow, weed and maintain your network
I challenged the group of teens in my session to take another look at a Twitter . Most had an account, but we encouraged the ones who did not to create one.
- How could they use the account to connect and promote their project?
- How could social media help them build a positive digital footprint and become part of their portfolio?
- How could they build a network of peers and experts?
The rest of the session was hands-on.
- create a Twitter account (if you didn’t have one)
- choose a username
- create a profile description
- Tweet1:INFORM: share something with follow GIN attendees (use the hashtag)
- Tweet2: CONNECT: mention a keynote speaker (give feedback, ask a question, connect….)
- Tweet3:REFLECT: share your aha moment
- harvest usernames of other GIN attendees to add to your network
Funny how a Learning Network trail can lead one to unexpected destinations 🙂 Follow along the bread crumbs to see where the trail came from and what it led to…
3. I followed the link to Sharon’s website, and purchased one of her books titled: The Ten Minute Trainer: 150 Ways to Teach it Quick & Make it Stick.
As a professional development provider, I enjoyed her suggestions of 1-minute activities with the objectives of:
- articulating one’s own thinking
- making thinking visible
- creating connections
Sharon used analog material, such as paper, pencil, index cards, sticky notes and face to face dialogue and conversation in her workshops. There is NOTHING wrong with that and EVERYTHING right with her approach to take lecture type presentations and divide them into small easier digestible chunks, then give the attendees time to review, reflect, discuss and share what they learned.
“shorter segments of instruction are better than long ones, and learners remember more when they are involved in the learning”
4. My thoughts turned to ideas how we could amplify these short activities beyond the attendees of the workshop and at the same time include an activity that:
- exposes participants to network literacy
- helps them contribute to and build a Personal Learning Network
- collaborates and connects with a larger number of other workshop attendees, as well as a potential global audience
- documents their learning beyond the physical time of the workshop
- supports reviewing, reflecting, discussing and sharing their learning
5. Many of Sharon’s activities seemed to be a natural fit for amplifying them into Twitter activities, embedding the SAME learning objectives she has for her analog activities.
6. I sketched the following notes
- Share something you already know about the workshop topic
- use the #workshop hashtag
- follow someone who is also using the #workshop hashtag
- share the most important fact or concept you just learning in the last 10 minutes
- tweet it out and specifically @mention someone else
- shout out a number between 1-10
- tweet (that amount) of ways that can impact your practice
- use #workshop hashtag
- Make up a metaphor of the most important concept you learned
- sketch the metaphor
- take a photo and tweet it using #workshop hashtag
- make a noise signal, if you have a “tweetable moment”
- articulate and share your tweetable moment
- tweet it out
- use the #workshop hashtag
- tweet out two things you want to learn at the workshop
- reply to someone else’s tweet by answering their question
Think & Write
- tweet one sentence that summarized the information you heard about
- use #workshop hashtag
- Tweet 1 opinion about an issue related to what you learned
- tweet a question you sill have. “How about…”
- use @workshop hashtag
- tweet out a sentence starting with “I plan to…” with what you learned
- share how you will hold yourself accountable
by Heidi Hayes Jacobs
Ubiquitous 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.
Most 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?
So, it came down to one day, one test, at the Acropolis as the young men of Athens took out their #2 chisels to answer 30 questions on stone tablets. It is the annual timed test to prove the students’ knowledge and competence as they seek to become philosopher-kings. This valued test is the ultimate prize demonstrating not only the achievement of students, but also serves as the one key evaluation of the teacher.
Credit should be given to the test making company for developing multiple choice items with one correct answer given the challenging subject matter: philosophy and governance. Short answer constructed responses are a bit easier in those fields.
The results were been posted in the Agora for all to see the quality and performance of their teacher. Socrates failed. He simply spent too much time asking them to think. A walk- through evaluation by his supervisor (undisclosed), determined that “ sometimes Socrates’s students meander through endless dialogues examining challenging questions that do not have one right answer.” Hopefully, he will be replaced or perhaps go through an intensive summer professional development program in Sparta.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs
Cross posted to Langwitches Blog
Alan November talks about the importance of making students contributors to their own learning. I have been following his work for years (seen him present in person a couple of times too). I have been especially paying attention to his thoughts about how, over the years, it seems that we have taken away the reason/relevance for learning of our children.
Years ago, when farms dominated our landscape, children were responsible for performing meaningful jobs that were vital to each family’s success. […] Children were essential to the very survival of the family. At the same time, these jobs taught children the value of hard work, leading them to become more productive citizens within their communities as adults.
As mechanized tools and other advances developed, the work of children was replaced. To prepare for the industrial economy, students were required to attend school where teachers became central figures and where children took on more passive roles within their communities. The contributions made by children to their community shifted to the responsibility of completing schoolwork
How often have we heard the moaning from our students and/or own children?
Why do I have to learn this? I will never use it again.
There is even (why would I be surprised?) a facebook group called “I bet 90% if the Stuff we learn in School, I will never use again” It has over 16,000 members…
Maybe we need to start listening to our children. They don’t see the relevance of what they are learning in school. They don’t see how they will apply in real life what they are being asked to learn. So how do we give students back their purpose? Alan November suggests six different roles for developing empowered learners.
Here are examples of
- Tutorial Designers
- Official Scribes
- Collaboration Coordinators
- Contributors to Society
- Curriculum Reviewers
I must admit, that I have not ventured into working with my students (K-8) to being the “Collaboration Coordinators” and “Curriculum Reviewers”. I would love to read and hear about other teachers who have and are willing to share their experiences.
Please help me collect and add more examples to these by leaving a link and short description in the comment section!
You can read Alan November describe his thoughts about Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm or in Chapter “Power Down or Power Up?” in Hayes Jacobs’ book Curriculum 21 (ASCD, 2010). Watch this video below where Alan describes the critical need for kids to make a contribution:
Going back to the days of this town [Marblehead, MA]…you were 10 years old, you went to sea and you were an apprentice, you were working, you did not go to Middle School or High School in this town in the 1700s […] What we did, I believe, over time…and the irony is that technology did this…because we invented all these kinds of machinery, we don’t need kids working anymore. So we robbed them of their sense of making a contribution to community. I think one of the breakthrough ideas is to change the concept of the learner into someone who becomes a contributor by doing their work. Which means we have to redefine their work.
Another person who not only talks about the importance of making students contributors, but who has walked the walk is Tim Tyson.
The now retired principal of Mabry Middle School (archived site) describes how his school is” Making learning irresistible”. He describes how he extended that vision into the classroom in Heidi Hayes Jacobs’s book “Curriculum 21”.
explorations in engaging students to produce meaningful contributions were just fine, tentative steps in moving school practice in a completely new direction. Imagine extending these first awkward steps, infusing them more deeply into instructional practices […] Would schools proffer a better learning experience if they empowered students themselves, under the professional and informed coaching of their teachers, to actively create high-quality, media rich, digital curricular contributions that are aggregated and shared with learners of all ages, the world over?