Student Access to Writing for a Global Audience

Do you remember the days when you got back from summer vacation and within the first week you did a writing prompt: “What Did You Do For Summer Vacation?” and once you were finished writing it was filed back in your backpack, maybe hung on the fridge by your parents? If you were lucky, your teacher might just hang it up in the hallway for passing students and teachers to read. 

I think the majority of teachers are on the same page that students need an authentic audience to produce authentic work. When they know who they are writing to and why it gives them a purpose to not only write, but write well. So who is their audience? Peers? Teachers? Parents? Maybe they are writing something specifically for their principal? How do we move beyond the walls of our schools and write to a bigger audience? I’m not just talking in our neighborhoods or even states. I’m talking globally.

In my research on writing to a global audience, it seems to be a fairly uncommon thing still. Putting your students work out there for the world to see can be scary, people can be mean with comments and you never know who will see it. It’s also new and different, this new use of technology in schools is still developing, teachers are still being trained in new ways every day to incorporate tech in the classroom. 

So what are the benefits of writing to a global audience? First, having an authentic audience. Everyone has a desire to do better and try harder when they know their results will be public and it gives their writing a deeper purpose. Also, global collaboration can take place. Students have been sharing writing with peers, but what if a student in California sent their “What Did You Do This Summer” paper to a student in Wisconsin and vice-versa? 

Not only could they help peer-edit, but they can compare and contrast a summer in California to a summer in Wisconsin. What if they compared their winter vacations? Can you even imagine the learning that could take place with this type of collaboration? What if the student in California was writing to a student in China? Or India? We can have our kids read about winters in China out of a book and hope they remember it, or we can have them learn about winters in China first-hand from a student who is living there. Which do you think would stick better in their brain? 

Teachers may not know how to start sending out their student’s work to a global audience yet. Some ideas include via email, social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more, SeeSaw, or publish to blogs. Mary wrote more in detail about how to utilize the internet for student writing a few years back. The best part of the internet is that limits do not exist. New platforms pop up each and every day and if something you need doesn’t exist, it’s simple to create it yourself. The internet can be a powerful place if we let it. 

If your students are writing to a global audience, I would love to hear about it! Comment below and let me know how you’re accomplishing this. 

The Whos, the Whats, and the Whys of EdTech

Technology in schools is ever-growing. In fact, I wrote a whole post about the evolution of technology and how the computers and iPads I used in school are now archaic. Laptops were not even a possibility, and this was only 10 or so years ago. 

EdTech in the education world is HUGE right now. Administrators, teachers, and parents are mostly accepting these advancements with open arms. You can find #EdTech and #EdTechChat all over twitter right now. 

So who is involved in this educational technology around the world? No age limit exists. College classes that hold all ages are using it. Elementary schools down to kindergarten hold some type of computer, iPad, or smart screen. You can even find it in preschools and daycares! Technology is not limited to a certain age by any means. Years ago we were limited by funding, especially without the sound research that it would work and benefit students. However, technology prices are dropping and becoming more affordable as we continue to learn new ways to create what we need. 

What kind of technology are we using in schools? Chromebooks and iPads are just the start of it. Augmented and virtual reality is becoming a big part of classrooms. Now we aren’t talking about the pyramids in Egypt, we’re visiting them and seeing them with our own eyes, yet in our own classrooms. Whiteboards are electronic, papers are typed, not written, and collaborating moves beyond the walls of the school, sometimes even beyond our nation! 

This technology advancement is taking place everywhere. I recently listened to a podcast about how a community in the rural areas of Florida are coming together to create more wifi accessibility to students. Resturants around the town were installing more free wifi for students to come to use after school, as well as leaving the school grounds open for sitting outside and using wifi. From big cities to small towns, technology is hitting the hands of students all over the world.  

Why are we becoming such technology-driven schools? It’s for the students. It’s all for the students. Plenty of studies have come out to show the benefit of using these apps and resources in our classrooms. We are providing them with more hands-on opportunities and more real-life skills because the technology they use in schools will carry out into their careers someday. It’s rare to find a job that doesn’t require some sort of competence on a computer, iPad, tablet, or with functions like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Google Drive. 

Tech is taking over our schools, and we can either shut it out and keep to our traditional teaching ways, or we can accept it with open arms to give our students the best chance at the best education. 

How are you using technology in your classroom? 

The Evolution of Technology: How it’s Used in the Classroom

When I was in first grade, our classroom had a set of three computers that sat on a table in our classroom, taking up a good chunk of space. The computers looked very similar to this: 

They were big and incredibly slow. The day my teacher announced that we would be doing some testing on the computers was a big day in our school, we were advancing at what we felt was such a rapid pace back then. Sometimes we would type papers on the computers and print them out, it made us feel extra fancy! By the time I left elementary school, our school had a drastic upgrade in computer technology in the classrooms. The new sets looked similar to these: 

With the smaller screen and slimmer computer deck, we were able to fit more into each classroom. They ran faster and we were able to do more, like access the internet for classroom use and the speakers allowed us to hear videos (if we could get them to load). Gone were the days of researching solely through textbooks, now we could look up scholarly articles and websites for more information! It was 2005 and it was revolutionary. 

Later in my 10th-grade Biology class, my teacher was applying for a grant that would supply our classroom with a set of 30 iPads. This type of thinking was astronomical, iPads had just come out that year, they were a new concept and tool and it didn’t seem like this forward-thinking would ever be rewarded. Others around the school, teachers, students, and parents mocked him for thinking something of the sort would even be a possibility. He was fairly confident it would happen. He listed out ways for us of how useful they could be, flashcard apps, looking up information, reviews, tests, using powerpoints and multiple other online materials to enhance our learning. I truly cannot reiterate enough how out-of-this-world it all seemed. 

When the grant was passed and 30 first-generation iPads entered our classroom, it was a monumental day. I remember my biology teacher standing in front of us saying, “We are living in the middle of a technological revolution. By the time you are in college, these iPads will be dinosaurs. We should never be afraid to embrace the technology, it can be here to help you, let it, but within reason.” We used the iPads for PowerPoint slides, notes, and videos we would create for each other. We felt like we were making history, because well, we really were

iPads are still around ten years later, but not in the same way they were ten years ago. If any of us were to pick up a first-gen iPad today, we would laugh. Yet, ten years ago it was like holding gold in our fingertips! It’s incredible to see the advances and changes technology has made over the years, and how it has affected our schools- both in the good ways and the bad ways. 

I believe deeply that technology can be an incredible tool for us in our classrooms when used correctly. I’ve witnessed firsthand how impactful these resources have been to students, no matter what level they may be on. My hope is that I can use this space over the next few weeks to highlight ways we as educators can and have been using technology in classrooms and schools as a whole. Chromebooks, iPads, smart projectors, and other resources have been popping up in schools all over the nation, so let’s make some great lists on great ways to use them! 

What technology do you have in your classroom? In what ways has it helped and hindered your students? 

What’s The Difference Between Teaching And Learning? #TeacherMom

Have you ever asked your kids the difference? Can they distinguish one from the other?

I tried asking one of my kids, who responded, “Teaching is when a person who knows everything teaching other people what they know. Learning is people listening to the person teaching.”

That answer made me wonder: how might we help our children and students see teachers as learners every bit as themselves? How might we let go of the idea of the teacher of the main know-er of things in our classrooms? What are the benefits of children making these kinds of shifts in perspective?

Perhaps we might…

…share our (authentic) personal learning journeys with our students.

…ask students to help plan the learning that happens.

…ask students to help lead workshops on the concepts they are learning about.

…minimize “secret teacher business” by demystifying planning and letting students in on curricula (think “I can” statements that students revisit throughout the year).

What do you think? What kinds of values do you see in helping students compare and contrast teaching and learning?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Collaboration

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

The last in this mini series of posts on the 4 C’s of 21st Century learning. Collaboration can be a tricky one, especially when students equate it with group projects where only one kid does the work. But authentic collaboration is nothing like those group projects. Done right, it can be inspiring, fulfilling, and world-changing. Share these resources with students to help them inquire into the true nature of collaboration.

Resource #1: The Globemakers: Craft with a Modern Spin by Great Big Story

Resource #2: Filmbilder Animanimals videos: Ant & Crocodile

Resource #3: Mozart Symphony No. 40 by Berliner Philharmoniker

Resource #4: ÖVERALLT – IKEA collaborating with African designers by Ikea Today

Resource #5: Carl & the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

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Provocation Questions:

  • What is collaboration like when it works? What is it like when it doesn’t?
  • How can collaboration help the individual? How can it help the group?
  • What are is the responsibility of the individual when collaborating? What is the responsibility of the group?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Communication

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Does anyone else find the concept of communication fascinating? Its history? The way it’s evolving? The way people seem to bend it in new ways to meet their needs?

That’s why I hope you enjoy this provocation with your students. There is so much to think about beyond just the stereotypical, “Can you clearly convey your ideas?”

Resource #1: The Evolution of the Desk by Harvard Innovation Lab via designboom

Resource #2: The Science of Science Communication by the Duke & the Duck

Resource #3: Vonage – Communication is Everything by Steve Savalle

Resource #4: Satirizing ‘code-switching’ on screen by Newsy

Resource #5: Picture books ~ Say Something by Peter Reynolds & The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy

Provocation Questions:

  • How is communication changing today? How is it compare to the past? What is the same and what is different about communication now vs. communication throughout human history?
  • What are examples of modern communication?
  • What is the connection to social justice and communication?
  • How does code-switching work in communication? Why is it significant?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Critical Thinking

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Critical thinking can be exceptionally difficult to describe, even for adults. Why is this? How might giving students resources to investigate it as a concept help them develop their own views on what it really means to be a critical thinker?

Resource #1: What’s Going On In This Photo photoseries by NY Times

Resource #2: How to Spot a Pyramid Scheme by TED Ed & Stacie Bosley, via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Anti-Racism Experiment on Oprah (note: 2:32, the “N” word is used to describe racist thinking)

Resource #4: Except If by Jim Averbeck

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Resource #4: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley

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Provocation Questions:

  • Why can critical thinking be hard for us to define?
  • What might be some differences between critical thinking and ordinary thinking?
  • Why is critical thinking important today? How does the massive volume of information available online make it even more important?
  • What is the connection between critical thinking and addressing racism and social injustice?
  • What is our personal responsibility to develop our own critical thinking? How can it impact our lives? Our communities?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto