Kelsi's Insight on Education

Archive for the ‘Education Technology’ Category

Isn’t it funny that when Twitter first came out and for a long time after it defined itself as something less complex and actually, quite shallow compared to what it really could be and in many cases, it really was. When arriving at the homepage of Twitter it used to state a question, “What is Twitter?” The website then explained Twitter as, “…a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Well, that is ONE way to use Twitter and that’s the way that some of its users chose to use it. But, that statement doesn’t explain the service in its complete and complex form. … Though maybe it’s not ‘funny’… It’s more than likely, just like all things that we, as educators do- analyze, evaluate, create and share new and innovative ways to teach our students. Similar to the saying, that English teacher’s think/analyze books three times more than the authors do themselves. That’s all that we are doing with Twitter… reinventing the wheel that was given to us.

More recently… Twitter has changed their homepage to state, “Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”… it explains Twitter as a rich source of instant information. “Stay updated. Keep others updated. It’s a whole thing”. It also links to Twitter 101, which is a guide for those that are using Twitter for business purposes. Twitter has updated their original mission statement and is keeping up with the movement and trend that it probably didn’t realize it would be, when the website first started out.

Another article explains Twitter as a big noisy teacher’s lounge. Everyone is talking (texting) at once. Then someone might share a conversation with one or two teachers in the lounge, and catch fragments of other conversations around them (Teaching Village). I liked this analogy…. Though I wanted to expand upon it. Sometimes, during lunch conversation in the teacher’s lounge, a topic comes up where most or all participants are part of. There may be laughter or short, jabbing comments, maybe even insightful pieces of information and advice shared. That is when collaboration and true collectivism happens. This reminds me of when people tweet a link, with a few words of explanation… where then others following click on the link and bookmark it for later, retweet it and share with others, or use or make a comment on the article/blog that is posted. This is when the conversation comes alive and in real time, too.  Again, just ANOTHER way to utilize Twitter.

One of the highlights of this week’s class, for me, was when I was reading the NEA Article – Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching? and came across a quote from Chris O’Neal. “Twitter is a great way to keep your students thinking after class,” says Chris O’Neal, an instructional technology coordinator in Charlottesville, VA. “You can tweet a quick provocative question about a social studies lesson, for example, that will keep their brains active.” Chris is actually one of the first educator’s that I began to follow on Twitter. I heard him speak at the 2010 Education Leadership Conference, hosted by the RIU6 this past May.

So keep up the great work educators, as I don’t believe we will stop analyzing, evaluating and creating more ways to utilize Twitter and other Web 2.0 tools, anytime soon. Nor, do I feel that we should stop!

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Being a *new* Mac user/purchaser, (I purchased my first in September 2009), I have used the Safari Browser bookmark feature, effortlessly and extensively. In fact, I have 276 bookmarks on my browser, right now. (Weight Loss, Wedding, Houses, Bills, School Resources, News, Social, Banking, etc.) I carry my Mac just about everywhere I go, it’s an extension of myself. I also have a one-sided, ever-growing love affair, with Gmail (well, all things Google, really) and the search feature and multi-folder tagging, makes it pretty easy to keep track of websites that I like and want to go back to. Oh sure, I’ve heard of Delicious before. I even get excited, when I receive a new e-mail alert, from our Instructional Technology Specialist, with new links she’s added to her Del.icio.us page. Now, taking ED 620, I’m even more familiar with Del.icio.us and other social bookmarking websites, such as, StumbleUpon and Diigo. But, why would I want to create my own? Well, now I’m asking (while kicking myself…) why wouldn’t I have wanted to create my own!?

A few months ago, I brought my Mac computer to a friend’s house in Dubois. I wanted to show her a picture of my wedding dress, which was bookmarked on my Safari web browser. A couple of my friends jabbed at me and stated, “Why did you bring your computer? Can’t you be without it for just a few hours!?” My response was that my dress and other wedding blogs and favorites were bookmarked, which shut them up. I wish now, one of them would have suggested social bookmarking and made fun of me for not thinking of it myself.

Also, looking back on my first year teaching, social bookmarking would have been VERY beneficial to me. Because, even though I left my students and the school, it didn’t mean I was done with my work day. Though, I THOUGHT I was perfectly content e-mailing links to my school e-mail address, to revisit or show my students, there’s a simpler way. I remember a couple of morning when I was re-Googling a website at school and didn’t find it as quickly as I needed to or hoped.

During this past week in class, I came across an article called  7 Things You Should Know About Social Bookmarking. There’s a scenario played out about a Dr. Smith, who “…uses folders in his Web browser to organize bookmarks of online resources…at times he will discover that his essential bookmarks are on his home machine while he is at the office. Other times he is fairly confident that the bookmarked site is on his machine, but the process of finding one site out of hundreds of bookmarks is more difficult than refinding it using Google.” In the same scenario, there is Dr. Brown who “…uses del.icio.us to manage her bookmarks. When Dr. Brown finds a Web site to bookmark, she “right clicks” the site to add it to her del.icio.us account and “tags” it with a few relevant keywords… Dr. Brown has a few other advantages as well. When she bookmarks a site, del.icio.us tells her how many others bookmarked the same site. If she clicks on that number, she can see exactly who else bookmarked the site and when they found it. A further click shows her the bookmark collections of others interested in “her” site. Finally, if she chooses a common tag, Dr. Brown can see all of the other sites with that tag. This makes group collection and aggregation of bookmarks very easy.” Hence, the name of my post… I was a Dr. Smith… Now… I’m a Dr. Brown.

Now, I wouldn’t go into Del.icio.us just to login to my Facebook page. But, for just about everything else… I’m glad I finally made a personal account on Del.icio.us!

Something to get YOU started… Del.icos.us in Plain English

As you may have read in the previous post, one of my passions is learning and teaching leadership development skills. I think it’s important that as educators, we aren’t just teaching our subject area, but that we are helping our students become well-rounded individuals, and teaching them more about themselves and how to interact (well) with others. Something I came across in my training as a Leadership Consultant was a theory called Whale Done- The Power of Positive Relationships. The concept is that of the way they train the whales at Sea World. They don’t scold or give negative feedback, the trainers Accentuate the Positive, Build Trust and when mistakes occur they redirect the energy.

I used the Whale Done theory in the classroom this past year with my 7th grade students. By praising immediately, being specific, sharing positive feelings and encouraging them to keep up the good work, I tried hard to make the English classroom somewhere, where my students felt comfortable. At the beginning of the year, each student colored a cut out whale and put their name on it. They then taped them onto the wall in the back of the classroom. Every Friday (though we slacked towards the middle-to-end of the school year) students gave praise or “Whale Done’s” to other classmates. I also would give out “Whale Done’s” to those that helped around the classroom during that week or did well/improved on writing prompts, vocabulary quizzes, etc. We also did this when students presented in front of the class. I would simply ask, “would anyone like to give a Whale Done to this group that just presented?” and they would Accentuate the Positive and point out aspects of the presentation they liked and were interested in. Many of them got SO excited when they received a Whale Done and were able to get up and move their whale from one side of the wall to the other.

Another book/theory I came across is called, How Full Is Your Bucket. The main idea behind this, is that everyone has their own ‘personal bucket’ and through the interactions they have with others throughout their day, their bucket is either filled or emptied. One can fill their own bucket, while ‘filling’ up another’s – giving positive praise, etc. OR one can empty their own bucket, while emptying others – negative interactions. I have used this concept in my volunteer work as a 4-H Leader with the 4-Her’s… and still thinking about ways to incorporate this in the classroom. I was thinking about sharing it with my homeroom students, during the Olweus Bullying sessions, where an emphasis of the program is creating a trusting/positive environment, etc.

One more clip that I wanted to share was a video that I came across on Facebook, from a friend of a friend’s page… A nice pick me up on how to stay positive. Words of Wisdom from someone wise beyond her years!


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