Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zombie invasion on Twitter

Greetings, oh fellow tech zombies. Long time no talk! Between working on a Learning Technologies certificate, jumping head-long into Google Apps in the classroom, and training for a half marathon, it's been a very busy spring. State testing is just around the corner as well... I am hypothesizing about how I can make the most of my digital resources to make cumulative review more interesting. 

I found a great scholastic article entitled "Using Games & Team Activities for Test Review" that had some specific strategies that would engage students better than a giant multiple-choice packet. It reminded me that my Holt/McDougal curriculum has a jeopardy style game show disc that we could use, for starters. I am still planning on running review packets by strand (Number/Operation, Algebra, Geometry, Data/Probability), but it will be a choice. In lieu of this, students can complete interactive games on my Schoology site for 30-60 minutes per night, depending on how many extra credit points they want. I'll share my strand-by-strand review sites in a few weeks once they're done.

Meanwhile in Zombie Land, my grad classes on technology have suggested that I need to step outside my comfort zone of Facebook and Blogger, to play around with some of the more popular social networking and tech resources. Kids today are all over the place on the internet. I wanted to look around and see how I could use their vast skills to make class more interactive, and help them use their knowledge for educational purposes (and not just fun). Here is what I've tried so far:

1. Google+ 

The biggest benefit to Google is that you can register with any email. You don't have to use a Google email to create a Google account. If your students know your school email, they can "share" documents with you.  The hard part is deciding which email account you actually want to use. I think I have 4 active Google accounts, counting my school account, my personal Yahoo account, my U of MN account, and a gMail account that came with my phone.

Need help getting started? I found a great online "binder" with many helpful links to using Google in the classroom:

2. Twitter

I am new to Twitter, so there's not much on my profile yet. But I keep hearing over and over what a great source it is for teachers, so I'm going to find out! I have already discovered that there is real power in "group thought". I made my first hash tag ever for "ihatewinter" to share that I'd seen a silly Minnesotan snow-blowing his sidewalk in a t-shirt and shorts, as the temperature had changed 50+ degrees in a day.  Just today, I made the first ever hash tag #zombiemathteacher which I will be using shortly to tweet all my previous blog posts. I am thinking it might be a helpful place to post online learning opportunities, as your tweets can feed directly into Facebook and Schoology, and various other teacher sites. So exciting!

An excellent resource for using Twitter in your classroom is "100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree of Difficulty". I've barely scratched the surface of this site and have already found many helpful tips and tricks. 

3. Instagram 

My students are on Instagram all the time. Sharing on Facebook/Twitter, uploading, hash-tagging topics or tagging their daily lives. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could utilize this tool in the classroom? The photo editing and grouping tools (like Instapic Frame) are second to none. While students can visit Twitter and shared Google documents without having their own account, Instagram does require members to be 13 or over. This is probably most appropriate for high school. 

Classroom ideas for Instagram can be found at Edudemic

4. Facebook (obviously)

I have separate accounts for personal/friends/family, and one for current/former students/parents. There are very few pieces of information and/or people that apply to both spheres of my life. I have to apologize to those who do fall into both categories, who occasionally get repeat news that is worthy of sharing with both groups. Gone are the days when summer rolls around, that students and teachers stop talking to each other. I have already received several graduation party invites, via Facebook, for students whom I've kept in touch with for 5+ years. It gives a whole new meaning to teaching/mentoring. 

You have to be very careful what you share though; you never know what might get shared or posted. 

Here are some pretty obvious don'ts: "Eight Ways Teachers Get into Trouble"

Here are some uplifting do's: "100 Ways to use Facebook in the Classroom

And something to cheer you up for the day! We definitely need to work with students to develop appropriate online etiquette in various venues and social networking apps. Here's an interesting way to tackle it...

That's all for now! I'll continue to share as I find the best of the best in each suggested site, and let everyone know how it goes in the classroom.