real world

Presentation Reflection: Social Media and Student Voices

 

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Today the last of the students gave their presentations on their solutions to involving student voices in social media. They’ve been working on this project for awhile, and they ended up with many different solutions, though some ideas tended to overlap with each other. We were able to get a few audience members to join us as well- an administrator from the high school, a school board member, and the superintendent as well. We made sure the students had a genuine audience available during presentations. Presentations occurred over two days, and students chose their date and time.

Each presentation took between 5 and 10 minutes, with students and other audience members asking questions at the end of each one. Presenters were asked to dress professionally during their presentation, and this was definitely noticed by the audience members, who complimented them on this effort. Mr. McCauley and I had made sure that the students had a realistic presentation, as though they were presenting to a marketing firm. With the exception of one student, every presenter wore professional dress. We did assist any student with this requirement as long as they let us know in advance that they did not have an outfit that met the requirements.

The first day of presentations, we had Mr. Lee, our administrator, and Mrs. Johnson, our school board member, watching the students who presented. Both were familiar faces to the students, and some of them were former students of Johnson’s. On the second and final day, Mrs. Keller, our superintendent, joined us for presentations, tweeting out about each one as the students finished. All audience members complimented the students on their hard work, and seemed to be pleased with the information given.

Having viewed and graded each presentation, I can say that I saw many doable ideas. I think the best option that was presented (that met the needs of the entire student body) was one that formed a “Student Voices” club. The club members would take on the task of using Twitter to share information relevant to and by students. She chose to use Twitter as her medium, and, in order to combat moderation, looked into using a program called GroupTweet to keep negative posts from appearing online in the school feed. Because it would be a club, new members would be gathered each year, and trained by the older members on how to run the club. One teacher or other staff member would be needed as an advisor/moderator.

Another useful idea was geared to athletics. Though our school already has many clubs/groups on Facebook and Twitter, one just for athletics is severely lacking. This particular student plays football, and came up with ways to make sure scores for a variety of sports are posted via Twitter and Facebook feeds. What I enjoyed so much about this particular presentation was that the student took the problem and discovered how it was relevant to his own life and interests.

Some other good points made by students:

  • Showcase a Twitter feed in the cafeteria area
  • Send direct messages to the social media accounts to have something added and shared.
  • Vet the students running the sites based on teachers, applications, etc.
  • Add in social media projects as part of an elective course, like marketing

I really enjoyed seeing what the students came up with in the end. I think we definitely could work with them some more on mock presentations and presentation skills. We did give them tips, but just because they were written out doesn’t mean that students read/followed them. It might be good to practice the tips a few times before the actual presentation. Giving students the chance to do a mock presentation to get feedback and suggestions from classmates was a great idea. Those that mock presented took the feedback to heart and made changes before their final presentation. Part of me wishes that the mock presentations had been mandatory, but only because could have helped more students be successful.

Overall, I was very impressed. I will soon do a recap of the project as a whole. And yes, I’m still aware that I haven’t finished my VSTE updates!

#IMMOOC: Stagnate Education

Education is all about the students we serve, which means serving the students in ways that are best suited to their needs and passions. Every school year should not be run exactly the same way. Each class is unique and different. What works for one class doesn’t necessarily work for another class, nor should it.

When I was a classroom teacher, I worked at a very small school. There was only 1 class per grade level. Because of this, I knew my kids well before they hit the 4th grade. The 3rd grade room was next to mine, with a vent in the wall between them. I always tended to hear what was going on in the other room. I got to know my future students all year and their dynamics as a class. I would observe what worked and didn’t work with them, and try to come up with some ideas that would suit them in my room. This wasn’t my only bit of information on my upcoming classes, but it was a part of it.

There are some educators today that are focused on the days of education gone by. They may have taught for many years or they may be in the beginning of their career and remember how they were taught. This school of thought reflects in their classroom teaching style. They teach using a style that was comfortable and good for students of the past. They have newer equipment and technology tools, but they use these tools in the same manner as their predecessors might have. It is not innovative, or better. It is stagnated education, and it fails our students.

In Chapter 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset, there are some critical questions for educators. These are important to reflect on if stagnated education is to come to an end. The questions were as follows:

  1. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  2. What is best for this student?
  3. What is this student’s passion?
  4. What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  5. How did this work for our students?

Each of these questions are important, but perhaps one of the most important questions is Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? Chances are if you wouldn’t want to be there, then neither do your students. Instead of fostering a love of the subject and learning material, your class may end up being the one that turns them off, or that they just do the work in order to get through, hoping the next teacher will do better.

Sometimes we focus on what is easiest to do instead of what is best for the students. Worksheets, textbook readings, and definitions are all easy to prepare for, but are they best for today’s student? Is locking down the use of devices in the classroom the best method? The high school where I am has a BYOD policy, yet so many teachers balk at this and refuse to allow any BYOD in their classrooms. A sign is posted on the door. We fear the change, fear the management, and fear how students might use these devices. So we stagnate instead.

One thing missing from many classrooms is feedback- consistent, regular feedback. We grew up in an era where the teacher was the authority figure, and what they say went, even if it wasn’t something we liked or that worked for us. We just had to do it, and that was that. We never had a chance to say how something worked for us, or how the teacher could help us improve. By talking with our students throughout the year, we can develop ways to impact our classroom for those students, instead of waiting until the end of the year or semester when we don’t teach them anymore and they move on to the next class.

An innovative educator should work toward creating education for today’s students that isn’t stagnate and works in the best ways possible for the student, not the teacher. If we are working to help students, then we must take the focus off of ourselves and place it on the students. They are the reason we are educators after all.

Twitter Transcript: #minecraftED on Linking Real/Virtual Worlds & Collaboration

Sadly, I once again had to miss #minecraftED. Unlike last week, I was busy moderating #wvedchat. This is why I’m always thankful to have the transcripts after each edchat at my fingertips. It makes catching up much easier, and allows me to reflect when I have my own free time.

Tonight the topic was on linking the real and virtual worlds together with global collaboration. I use Tweetdeck for my Twitter needs, so as I was moderating #wvedchat, I would glance over every now and then to see some amazing examples shared by the participants of #minecraftED. There are many talented teachers to connect with in that group!

Transcript here

#MinecraftED meets every Tuesday at 8 PM. Mark Grundel (@mgrundel) and Garrett.Z (@PBJellyGames) are the founders of the chat, and ones to follow for notices about the chat itself.