Peer/Self Assessment

When students complete their projects in my computer lab, the most often form of assessment they receive is a summative assessment that I provide.  This is usually in the form of a rubric that lists components of the project and a description of the levels of quality from excellent to poor.  I feel that these rubrics are helpful to students because they provide a guide for what is expected of them as they work through their project, but what I have found is that many times we look over the rubric at the beginning of the project and many of the students cast them aside and fail to look at them again.  While my rubric is an important tool for summative assessment, I also feel that a peer and/or self assessment can also be equally effective.

A peer assessment can help students internalize the characteristics of quality work.  I believe that when a student knows that someone at their level will also be evaluating their work, they may pay more attention to detail and quality.   I also think they will find the feedback from their peers to be more relevant.  Peer evaluation also encourages more student involvement.  For example, my fourth grade students are working on a PowerPoint presentation on famous inventors.  Typically I would be the only one reviewing the students work and presentations, but by incorporating peer evaluation, the students watching the presentations will be more engaged and get more out of each presentation.  This will also develop the students’ judgment skills.  By becoming more adept at peer evaluation, students will in turn be able to critically evaluate their own projects before they are submitted.  Another way to use peer feedback is to incorporate it into student group work.  My seventh grade students are working on group projects where they are learning how to use a web communication tool, figuring out ways to incorporate that tool in their core subjects, and presenting their tool to the rest of the class.  Peer evaluation allows the students to reflect on their role and the contributions they made to the group.  It provides accountability for all group members so that students will not “free load” off their group members since their contribution will be graded by their peers.

Self assessment also encourages students to take greater responsibility for their learning. Through self assessment, students can learn from their mistakes, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and become more active in their learning.   My eighth grade students are developing their own websites.  By adding a self assessment to the project, it will encourage the students to become more involved and responsible for their final product.  It will encourage the students to reflect on how focused they were on the creation of their website.  Like peer evaluation, it will also help the students focus on their judgment skills and develop their ability to critique the quality of their work before it is submitted.  My seventh grade students can also perform a self assessment of their role as group member during the creation of their web communication tool presentations.  This will help them critically analyze their contribution to the project and their group.

Many of my students have had little exposure to peer and self assessment;  therefore, they lack the skills and judgment to effectively complete these forms of evaluation at this time.  As their teacher, it will be my role to fully prepare the students for these types of evaluation by introducing them to these concepts and my expectations when the project is in its early stages.  While this may be time consuming, it is a valuable process as the students develop their 21st century learning skills.

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Post Project Reflection in PBL

Now that the culminating event is over, the projects have been presented, the groups and individuals have been evaluated, and reflection journals have been turned in, it is now time for the teacher to reflect on the entire project experience.  There are three main groups that I would involve in this process.  They are the students, myself, and any colleagues who were involved with the project.  

Students will be asked to share their insights on the strengths and weaknesses of the project.  This reminds the students that they play an active part in their PBL journey even after the project ends.  Encouraging student feedback shows that I value their opinions and stress the importance of them having a voice in the classroom.  For the project I created, I included a student self reflection.  In this self-reflection, the students were able to think about what they did throughout the project and comment on what went well and what might not have gone well.  One could also consider using a survey, holding class discussions, or interviewing students as well.  Boss (2012) offers some great questions to ask the students including:

  • What did they think of the project focus, workload, or value of specific assignments?
  • What will you remember about this project?
  • How would you suggest improving it next time around?
  • What would you tell next year’s students to get ready for this project?

Boss (2012) also advises teachers to make blogging a habit as projects unfold.  Journal entries added throughout the project experience will help teachers look back as they complete their final reflection.  A teacher who blogs makes his or her learning public and models what it means to be a reflective teacher who welcomes constructive comments and suggestions from others.  As part of my project, I also created a teacher reflection to be completed at the end of the project.  Each major portion of the project was broken down into a spreadsheet.  From there, the teacher would be able to fill in what went well, what didn’t work, and changes for the next year.   

Finally, reflecting with colleagues can be highly beneficial.  Teacher reflective collaboration on a project allows them to examine strengths in student work, discuss opportunities for growth, and discuss any changes that might be made.  This helps projects get better each time they are executed with a class.  Because my project involved the help of many teachers within the school, it would only make sense that they completed a teacher reflection of their own so that we could meet and discuss the project when it was completed.  

Reflecting on a project is never a one-time assessment.  Students, classes, and circumstances are different from year to year, so I feel it is important to reflect on the project experience each time it takes place.  

Boss, S. (2012, November 28). PBL Teachers Need Time to Reflect, Too. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/project-learning-teacher-reflection-suzie-boss

 

The Role of the Facilitator in PBL

One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. As a facilitator, my role in the teaching/learning process will change and I will need to let go of the traditional notions for a classroom and learning.  No longer will I spend most of my day in the front of the classroom teaching.  My role as a facilitator is essential for the effectiveness of the learning experience for my students.  As a facilitator I will develop a project for the class, oversee and assist students throughout the project, help students become more independent as learners, and assess and evaluate the success of the project as well as the students’ performance.    

An effective facilitator defines desired outcomes for the project.  The outcomes are discussed with the students early in the project and are a point of reference throughout.  A facilitator provides the focus of the project and the path towards the desired outcome.  An effective facilitator recognizes the group dynamics and behavioral styles.  They also ensure that everyone is heard and included.  An effective facilitator is confident.  He or she is always prepared and commands the attention of the room.  An effective facilitator asks good questions that can move a group forward, facilitate conversations and provide results.  He or she helps a group think outside the box and determine a course of action.  An effective facilitator knows how to handle a group and works with them to resolve conflict and be able to work together (Rickenbach, 2014).  

With project based learning, students will develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful including the necessary 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.    Students will still learn the academic content they need through PBL and they will probably remember it better.  Project based learning helps students learn time management and become more organized.  Students will learn how to work together much like they will need to do as they enter the workforce.  By taking part in public presentations, students will develop their communication skills and their project results may actually make a difference in the community.  Project based learning is more engaging for students and allows students to take responsibility for their learning.  

In order to become an effective facilitator, I will need to make a few changes to my teaching style and they way I run my classroom.  One area that I will need to improve on is observation.  I will need to do a better job of examining student interactions and group them appropriately so that they will be most successful in their learning.  I will also need to develop a better way to facilitate groups when they have conflict.  Finally, I will need to become more adept at helping students think out of the box and look at tasks with different perspectives.  

 

Rickenbach, R. (2014, November 05). Are You an Effective Facilitator? Retrieved March 19, 2017, from https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/L-and-D-Blog/2014/11/Are-You-An-Effective-Facilitator

Scaffolding & PBL

Scaffolding in Project Based Learning can be defined as the support provided and the clear expectations that are set so that project goals can be accomplished. In Project Based Learning, the best projects use scaffolding in order to keep the project and students organized.  When students are well prepared and given guidance, projects are most successful.  The difficulty with scaffolding is providing direction, yet also giving the students the ability to show some initiative, creativity, and resourcefulness. McKenzie (1999) states that there are eight characteristics of educational scaffolding:

  1. Scaffolding provides clear directions.
  2. Scaffolding clarifies purpose.
  3. Scaffolding keeps students on task.
  4. Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations.
  5. Scaffolding points students to worthy sources.
  6. Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.
  7. Scaffolding delivers efficiency.
  8. Scaffolding creates momentum.

Scaffolding provides clear directions

As instructors create projects for project based learning, they have to try and anticipate any problems or difficulties that may arise.  The directions and plans for the project need to be clearly written so that students can efficiently move toward a productive learning experience.  Much thought needs to be put into the planning of the lesson so that the students know exactly what they need to do and what is expected of them.  As I have created my project “My Dream Playground,”  I have worked hard to think of every possible problem that may arise or issue that my students may encounter; however, since I have never planned a project of this magnitude, I am sure that there are things that I have missed.  I think that as long as the instructional designer has put a lot of thought into the project–the steps, directions, activities, and assessments, they will be well equipped to handle any potential problems and eliminate them either before the project begins or as the students work through the project.  

Scaffolding clarifies purpose

In project based learning, students are presented with the purpose of their project as soon as the driving question and entry event take place.  The students know why they are taking part in this project and the project has meaning because they know they are presenting it to a wider audience beyond their teacher and class.  In project based learning, each task builds on the prior tasks.  Each lesson and activity in “My Dream Playground” builds on the next in order for the students to complete their final presentation and reach the ultimate goal of coming up with a feasible playground for the school.     

Scaffolding keeps students on task

A timeline or calendar keeps students on task and helps guide the project along.  Students know what is expected and when it is expected so that they are not wandering in all different directions.  In “My Dream Playground,” the students will be provided with a calendar of events so that everyone knows the timeline for when different parts of the project are due.  In addition, with each major portion of the project, students will be given guidelines or rubrics for what is expected of them.  They may go about accomplishing the steps of the project in different ways, but they are all given the same guidelines to follow so that they can stay on track.

Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations

In the beginning of scaffolded projects, students are provided rubrics, standards, and examples in order to define excellent work.  For my project, students will be provided rubrics for their oral presentation, 3D model, and peer evaluations.  Expectations and a sample of quality work will be provided from the start, and students will continually meet with the teacher throughout the project.

Scaffolding points students to worthy sources    

In a scaffolded project, the teacher undertakes the preliminary research.  Realizing that the internet lacks credible sources, the teacher picks the best sources in order to help students accomplish their task.  Depending on the teacher, students might have to use the resources provided by the teacher or they may use those sources as a springboard to further their research.  In “My Dream Playground,” I will provide the students with four sites they can use to research the size and cost of playground equipment and playground surfaces.  They will be allowed to look for other resources, but not spend too much unnecessary time on this.  If they choose to use a different resource, they will need to obtain teacher approval before using it.

Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.

Instructors are expected to test each aspect of a scaffolded project to anticipate anything that might go wrong.  This will eliminate any student frustration as the project progresses and maximize student learning.  After students have completed the project, lessons may be further refined.  Each aspect of the “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully scrutinized so that the lessons and activities run smoothly for the students.  It is hard to anticipate every roadblock so changes will most likely be made during and after the project has been completed.  

Scaffolding delivers efficiency

Project based learning is very involved.  However, when properly scaffolded, students are focused, have clear expectations, and remain on task.  The “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully planned with a clear timeline.  Each lesson builds on the next leading up to the final presentation.  

Scaffolding creates momentum

The entry event, driving question, and its subquestions will create a great deal of excitement and momentum for the project.  They draw the students’ attention into the project and set the wheels in motion in order to motivate the students to project completion.  

McKenzie, J. (1999, December). Scaffolding for Success. In From Now On. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from http://fno.org/dec99/scaffold.html

 

Differentiation through Project Based Learning

Transforming one’s classroom from a traditional setting to the implementation of project based learning can be an intimidating task.  One of the questions that can arise is how educators can differentiate learning in a project based setting.  McCarthy (2016) points out five key areas that can be differentiated in order to meet the learning needs of all students.  They are:

  • Authentic Purpose
  • Entry Event
  • Need to Know protocol
  • Checkpoints
  • Student Voice

Students who are at risk or struggle with learning in a traditional setting might become less motivated to learn or really cannot understand that what they are learning applies to the real world.  Through project based learning, students have a wider audience and they apply what they are learning to real-world activities.  They are not just answering to their teacher.  When they see that their projects make an impact on the wider community, they might be more motivated to work.  No longer can students say, “When am I ever going to use this?”

Likewise, a strong entry event sets the tone for the project.  It gets students engaged in the project and develops a purpose for what they are going to learn.  A strong entry event connects students interests with the curriculum.  Like the authentic purpose, an effective entry event shows students how the curriculum relates to their world outside of the school walls (McCarthy, 2016).

It is important to check for content understanding throughout the entire project.   McCarthy (2016) calls this the Need to Know protocol.  It is similar to the K-W-L  strategy except the questions are revisited throughout the entire project until all the questions are answered.  Because the Need to Know protocol is frequently run throughout the project, new questions may arise.  When the instructor reviews the answers with the students, the students vote whether the question was fully addressed.  If there are students who do not feel the answers were addressed, then the instructor must give additional support to those students who feel they need it.  The students help determine whether they feel their academic needs were met rather than the instructor deciding whether the content was covered.

Weekly or bi-weekly checkpoints should also occur along with daily formative assessments.  Students who pass the checkpoint move onto the next skill level; however, students who do not pass the checkpoint will receive differentiated support to meet their needs.  Checkpoints are useful to the instructor and student because they help identify any problems or misconceptions before they get too far into the project (McCarthy, 2016).

Finally, one of the biggest ways to differentiate learning in PBL is to allow for student voice.  Students might be able to design the topic focus, make choices on the end product, and/or design their own plan of action (McCarthy, 2016). This aspect may be hard for instructors who are very used to leading the show, but it is very important for students to be able to help lead their learning.

The two areas that excite me about project based learning are the authentic purpose and student voice.  I think when anyone with any type of ability feels like what they are doing has meaning and when they have a choice with regards to completing the task, learning will undoubtedly take place.  As I read about the Need to Know protocol and the checkpoints, they seemed very familiar and logically take place even in a traditional educational setting.  Formative assessments take place daily in both settings; however, I feel that the checkpoints discussed in PBL are more planned and probably take place more frequently in a PBL setting.  It seems that when carried out effectively, PBL feels more planned and more attention is paid to detail and whether all the students are understanding the material rather than just covering the content.

McCarthy, J. (2016, November 15). How do I differentiate through project-based learning?. In teachthought. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from http://wegrowteachers.com/differentiation-in-a-project-based-learning-unit/

 

 

Integrating Technology into the Library

It is no longer a question of whether to use technology in schools, but how to effectively use technology to enhance student learning.  As the library media specialist for my school, my role is to come up with innovative ways to use technology across the curriculum, design student experiences that use technology in original ways, select appropriate resources, and collaborate with my colleagues to plan effective student-centered technology enhanced lessons.  These lessons must allow students to develop their information literacy and computer skills, interact with members of the community, and understand that the skills they are learning can be applied to their everyday lives (Hughes-Hassell, 2001).

Technology is a tool that can be used in the library to solve problems.  Hughes-Hassell (2001) states that it can be used to “gather, organize, analyze, and present information.” There are many ways to use technology effectively in the library in order to make it more engaging, relevant, and authentic. One basic way is to use technology to play review games with students on library skills, genres, parts of a book, library terminology, the Dewey decimal system, etc. Using video in the library can really help create a more complete picture when presenting lessons to students. Chances are pretty good that you can find a clip on YouTube to enhance any lesson and if not, you can upload your own video to share with the students.  It is very expensive to house current encyclopedias on site at school; however, through technology, my students can access the most current electronic resources such as encyclopedias, journals, and magazines to gather research information. Digitized resources through the Library of Congress can augment lessons through the use of primary sources.   Technology can help students communicate with other students from around the world or reach out to scientists, researchers, and authors.  Older students might contact experts using e-mail.  Skype visits with experts might also be set up to aid in lesson understanding and allow students to communicate with authors about books they have read and the writing process.  Portable technologies, such as laptop computers or iPads, can be used to gather data outside the classroom and tools such as spreadsheets can be created to help students analyze their data.  Students can use a variety of authoring tools like presentation tools, digital booklets, animated reports, and videos to present any type of project or research.  Technology can also be used to take students on virtual field trips and simulate real-life experiences for students. Webquests can guide students to search the internet for specific information.   Technology can provide scenarios and interdisciplinary connections to enhance learning.  For example, after reading the book Gopher Up Your Sleeve  by Tony Johnston, students might use websites like enature.com to learn more about the animals in the poems.

Technology on its own does not facilitate learning, but a huge difference is made when it is used in conjunction with meaningful resources and authentic experiences.  School librarians should collaborate with teachers to design learning opportunities that utilizes technology to address the needs of the learner and curriculum goals.  

 

Hughes-Hassell, S. (2001). Enhancing student learning with technology. In American Library Association. Retrieved November 6, 2016, from http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/publishing/editions/samplers/penaasl.pdf

Digital Games in the Library

Children learn best when the content is relevant to them and when they can make connections between new and old material.  Sometimes it can be challenging to make these connections, but using games can help.  Games can help strengthen teacher to student and student to student relationships.  Children like playing games because they can have fun while they are learning.  Teachers like games because they help boost students’ academic confidence and develop their social and problem-solving skills (“Teaching with Games”, n.d.).

Both games and gamification have been used for educational purposes from preschool all the way through higher education.  They are useful because they are engaging and motivate the learners (Young, 2016).  Motivating students to learn, especially in topics that do not initially interest them, can be a challenge for all educators especially for library instructors.   I have yet to meet an elementary student who loves to learn about library skills and research so using games, especially digital games, in my library has many advantages.  

One advantage is that the students are learning through the process of playing a digital game.   Digital games might help a student understand a new library concept or idea such as:

  • ABC order and how fiction books are shelved.
  • The Dewey Decimal system and locating non-fiction books on the shelf.  
  • Parts of a book
  • Literary Genres
  • How to search the library catalog
  • Library Orientation
  • Research Skills
  • Digital Citizenship

Digital games are more engaging for my library students.   From year to year, my students need a lot of review and practice with library skills.  Handing today’s students worksheets on these topics is not very engaging and meaningful.  Because my class is not graded, students are less motivated to complete worksheets, but a lively digital game sparks their interest and the students are more willing to participate.  

Digital games can help students make connections with the library content and form positive memories of their learning.  When activities are fun and interesting, they stand out in students’ memories and can facilitate learning.  The students may recall the information more readily after playing the game.   Some students might remember library vocabulary words after playing certain games, others learn from reading the clues provided in certain games, and other students learn when they hear their classmates call out answers. Using digital games appeals to all different types of learners because they provide a variety of experiences for students. (Stathakis, 2013).

Using digital games with young students is one of the many effective tools that can be used in library instruction.  Effective digital games create a collaborative and enjoyable experience for the students which increases their engagement and motivation resulting in learned material.  When used properly to meet desired objectives, digital games can have a positive impact on a student’s educational experiences.  

Resources:

Stathakis, R. (2013). Five reasons to use games in the classroom. In education world. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/reasons-to-play-games-in-the-classroom.shtml

Teaching with games. (n.d.). In education world. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from   http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/strategy/strategy065.shtml

Young, J. (2016, July 1). Can library research be fun? Using games for information literacy instruction in higher education. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1973&context=glq

 

Relative Advantage of Instructional Software in the Classroom

Instructional software is used to deliver instruction or assist with the delivery of instruction on a topic.  Five specific types of instructional software include drill and practice, tutorial, simulations, instructional games, and problem solving.   

Drill and Practice

Drill and Practice software provides exercises where students work examples and receive immediate feedback for their answers.  It includes flash card activities, chart fill-in activities, branching drills, and extensive feedback activities.  Drill and practice is often looked down upon, but it does have its benefits.  Roblyer (2016) states that drill activities provides effective rehearsal for students and allows them to transfer newly learned information into long term memory.  Once students master lower order skills, they can use these skills for higher order thinking activities.   Drill and practice software provides immediate feedback to the students, can increase motivation, and save teacher time. Even though drill and practice software is sometimes criticized for being outdated, teachers should seek the use of this software to meet specific needs for their students (Roblyer, 2016, p. 81).  Quizlet is an example of a drill and practice software that I use in my fourth grade library class.  Quizlet is a website that allows teachers and students to create and share flashcards.  While studying literary genres, students can read and listen to the literary genre terms and definitions. They can use the program as flashcards, take a fill in the blank quiz, practice spelling the terms, and play games that involve the terms and definitions.   Through drill and practice, games, and quizzes, the students will be able to spell the literary genre words and identify the meaning of each genre.

Tutorial

Tutorial software provides instruction on a topic much like a teacher instructing in a classroom.  With tutorial software, students should be able to learn the material without any additional help or materials. There are two types of tutorials, linear and branching. Linear tutorials provide the same instructional sequence regardless of student performance.  Branching tutorials are more sophisticated and lead students along different path based on how they respond to questions and how they show mastery of the material (Roblyer, 2016, p. 83-84). Tutorials are generally used with older students who are able to read and are more popular in military and industrial training.  It can serve the needs of the classroom that use the flipped classroom or screencasting strategies.  Tutorial programs provide a more self paced review for students who need further instruction in a topic area.  They also allow more advanced students to move on to additional learning activities at their own pace when a teacher is not available to present the material (Roblyer, 2016, p. 84-85).  In my fourth grade library class, I use screencast-o-matic to record tutorials for all my research lessons and post them on my classroom website. When researching and completing projects, students work at all kinds of speeds. The screencasts help the slower students go back and review information I already presented and they help the more advanced students work ahead at a faster pace.

Simulations

Simulations are a computerized model of a real or imagined system that is designed to teach how the system works.  There are two main types of simulations. The first type teaches about something.  The second teaches how to do something. Simulations are predominantly used in science. Simulations are best used when a real situation is too time consuming, dangerous, expensive, or unrealistic for a classroom setting (Roblyer, 2016, p. 92).   In the past, I have not used simulation software in my fourth grade library classes, but this year I am working on having centers set up when the students come to class.  I was able to obtain some laptops and iPads for my centers and found PhET to be good quality simulation software. PhET is an interactive simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder.  It provides free and interactive math and science simulations at all grade levels. Using these simulations in the library would allow my students the ability to further explore and process topics that they have learned in class.   

Instructional Games

Instructional games software adds game-like rules and/or competition to learning activities.  They are often used in the same way as drill and practice games and simulations, but they are considered separately due to their different instructional elements.  Instructional games have rules, an element of competition, and are entertaining for the students.  Schools have been slow to adopt instructional games due to the cost, inadequate hardware to run the games, and good quality software has been hard to find.  Instructional games are beneficial because they provide the element of play and enjoyment for the students.  Teachers can capitalize on this enjoyment and spend more time on a curriculum topic with their students. Educators do have concerns with instructional games.  Some educators worry that students will get caught up in having fun and this will draw attention away from what is to be learned (Roblyer, 2016, p. 92-96).  In my fourth grade library class, I have used Jeopardy games to review library concepts.  It is a fun way to review topics at the end of a unit and circle back on old topics covered throughout the year.  We don’t play the game all the time so the novelty makes it more exciting for the students.  The students work together in teams to answer questions and the game is more engaging than providing review worksheets because we can discuss answers together and clear up any misunderstandings with the material.  

Problem Solving Software

Problem solving software is used to teach problem solving skills.  There are two main approaches used in problem solving software.  They are content-area problem solving skills and content-free problem solving skills.     Content- area problem solving software focuses on teaching skills mainly in math and science.  Content-free problem solving software focuses on teaching general problem-solving abilities.  Effective problem solving software must be clearly linked to cultivating a specific problem solving ability in students.  Problem solving software can be interesting and motivating for students; however, it is important to test the software for its effectiveness in teaching problem solving skills before adopting it with the students.  There is also concern that students will not be able to transfer knowledge they learned using the software to other areas (Roblyer, 2016, p. 97-100).  One example of problem solving software to use in my fourth grade library class would be Kidspiration.  The students at this age are still very new to looking up information, synthesizing and outlining the essential information they need, and using that information to write a well constructed report.  Inspiration provides the logical steps a student would take to perform these functions at their level.  Students can begin with a graphic organizer, then create an outline from the graphic organizer, and finally use the outline to create their report..  Students could work individually or with others.    Using this software might be more time consuming with the students, but the information created might be more coherent for the students to read rather than using paper and pencil.        

There are numerous amounts of instructional software available to deliver instruction in a variety of ways. It is important that educators are careful in selecting these programs to ensure that they provide the best possible educational experience for their students.   All programs have their benefits and limitations, yet can be integrated in a meaningful way.   

References:
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed., pp. 81-100). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Social Media in Learning

Social media is a powerful tool and many teachers use it for personal reasons,  professional development, and communication with our school families, yet the thought of incorporating social media in our classroom seems to continue to be a touchy subject.  I think some worry that students will be distracted and spend more time communicating with each other rather than focusing on the assignment while others worry about cyber-bullying and student privacy and safety.  What I have found after curating website articles about schools using social media in the classroom is that all of these issues can be addressed and the use of social media engages students and extends their learning.  Social media is here to stay, the students are aware of it and use it at home so why not use it in the classroom.  At least then, we as teachers, can be involved in teaching our students the proper and safe way to interact with others on the internet.

I teach in a K-8 grade setting and I have often wondered how to safely incorporate social media in the classroom.  Many of my students are too young to set up accounts and those that are old enough may not be allowed to have them.  What I have found through my reading is that I can set up a classroom account with my younger students and we can work as a class to create posts.  It is also possible to set up individual accounts to blog, text, whiteboard, tag, post links, and create videos even for young students using educational sites like EduBlogs, Edmodo, and Fakebook.  Blogging and posting to social media helps students as young as kindergarten with their reading and writing skills and gives students the ability to share what is going on in the classroom through their eyes.    By using social media, students are able to connect and collaborate with other students in their school, district, state, country, and world.  Not only will students learn from others, but they will contribute to the learning of others and new cultures and knowledge will be brought into the classroom.

Using social media allows us to explore and educate our students on proper digital citizenship.  For example, students will learn the proper way to post and what types of information should be shared in a more controlled environment with teacher guidance.

Social media used in classrooms will not be a waste of time if managed effectively. Teaching students how to properly use social media will help prepare them for the future. After reading these articles, I have more confidence in how I can integrate the use of social medial in my classroom and I plan on incorporating it into my computer classroom in the next school year.

Click below to access my curated articles:

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