This is the fourth in my series of blog posts regarding the NETS for Teachers. I am going to explore NETS-T 1d, which recommends that teachers Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.
I am going to list the technology tool and how it models collaborative knowledge construction because there were so many ways that I see educators exhibiting this standard.
I know that I have not listed everything, but I hope that you realize that there are quite a few ways to model collaborative knowledge construction. I encourage every educator to find new ways to learn by collaborating with others.
Collaboration. What does it really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, it is defined as working with another person or group in order to achieve or do something. I can relate to this definition because I am working with the teachers at Wayland to improve our technology integration. I am collaborating through time spent talking with teachers, planning with teachers, and helping teachers to use technology resources. Together we are trying to achieve better technology integration within their classrooms. We are collaborating.
But is this the only way to collaborate? No, there are so many other ways that we can work together to achieve something. I added some pictures at the beginning of this blog post to show new ways that people are creating environments to collaborate in. Some of the pictures were taken on a visit to Kent Innovations High. They are utilizing Problem-Based Learning to teach the students. Many of their projects involve groups, just like the "real world". So the school has created places for collaboration to take place. Another example of collaborative environment is the table that I saw, called a Think Table, where you can write directly on the table as you collaborate with others. One last collaborative environment is of our own Wayland High School Media Center. Mrs. Huyck is working to establish her own Collaboration Stations for the students.
We can also collaborate with other while online, such as through blogs. This blog is meant to open up collaboration at Wayland. The teacher Facebook page is another avenue we have to collaborate with others in our district. Teachers in our district are blogging with their students about topics that they are learning about in their classes. I blogged with a teacher outside of the district last year about using iPads in math class, Cheryl's Math Blog. I found that blogging with another person helped me in two ways: (1) I was able to learn from someone else's insights, and (2) I learned how I really felt about something when I had to put my thoughts into words. The math blog was one of the best things that I did as we learned how to better use the iPads in math last year.
So what types of things are you doing to promote collaboration among your students, staff members, and parents?
Please share with us how you are collaborating... (really, I want YOU to share)
My thoughts on students and social media
I just read an article on college athletes and their use of social media called "Tweet Smart, Tweet Often". Some schools are banning the use of social media by athletes, while other schools are taking different approaches, like teaching student athletes how to properly use social media. So, I asked myself, where do we stand here at Wayland? Are we to tweet or not to tweet?
Since this is our second year with the iPad initiative, I believe that we have a better sense of what social media is and how to use it. Currently, at Wayland we ban Twitter and Facebook (as well as SnapChat App) while at school. We ban these because we feel that they are too distracting for students. But are we doing our students a service or disservice by banning them?
My first thought on student use of social media starts with knowing the student population that you are working with. I do NOT feel that the use of Twitter and Facebook are appropriate for students that are "underage" users for these social media. Twitter recommends that students be 13 or older and Facebook clearly states that users must be 13 or older. For me, any student that is younger than 13 should not be using these social media platforms. So, in Wayland, I do not agree with the use of these platforms in the elementary schools or Pine Street. But does that mean we should not be starting to teach students how to use social media properly? I feel that teachers should find ways to incorporate the proper use of social media by using appropriate platforms, like kidsblog.org. This is a safe environment that teachers can use with younger students for classroom learning and to teach digital citizenship.
So what about students that are 13 and older? My next thought is of our Wayland Middle School students. Personally, I still want to be cautious with this group. Many of middle school students are getting accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, but should we promote this at school? I strongly believe in advocating online safety with this group of students by having them use social media within the classroom. However, I am inclined to have these students practice proper digital citizenship within safer social media platforms, such as Edmodo or Schoology, which are CMSs (Course Management Systems).
But now you ask, what about Wayland High School? These students are clearly 13 and over. I do feel that it would be appropriate for teachers to use Twitter and Facebook within their classes at this age level. In a few short years, these students are heading into the real world. They need to be good digital citizens. But how can they be considered a good digital citizen if we never teach them within the context of the real world, which currently is Twitter and Facebook?
You might ask, what about the distraction of these social platforms? Well, I like to think about how adults deal with technology and social media. Some adults are very distracted with their phones and checking their status updates, but not all of them are. Some adults have learned that there is a time and place for chatting on social platforms, but they also use these platforms for learning and enhancing their lives. For myself, I am using Twitter as to build my PLN. I am constantly learning using Twitter.
So I believe that at Wayland, we should all consider the question, To Tweet or Not to Tweet. What do you think?