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Paper Tweeting: Social Media in the Classroom

I’m currently working with an elementary and middle school to roll out a school wide social media campaign.  I have had a lot of questions about this so I thought I would make a video sharing how that decision was made and how we are approaching it.  Yes, I did film this video today…although the calendar says spring, Colorado woke up to SNOW this morning-hence the furry hooded sweater. If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are the highlights: This private school decided to roll out a social media campaign to let the local community learn more about the school in hopes of increasing enrollment numbers.  I let the superintendent know that Twitter was not a marketing tool, people won’t follow accounts that are constantly broadcasting information.  That being said, stories are compelling and people will follow accounts that tell a compelling story, and that invite conversation. The most compelling story in a school comes from the students. Letting  students be the voice of the school does a few things: 1. It gives students a place to reflect on their learning. 2. It gives the community and parents an authentic look at what is happening in the classroom.  3. It allows us to model proper use of social media as we use Twitter WITH students. 4. It gives students a sense of pride in their school and a sense of ownership over what they do there. Because this campaign is being rolled out with elementary students, there are some special considerations.  Twitter clearly states in its terms of use that users must be 13 years old or older.  Students don’t have an individual Twitter account; instead, each classroom has an account.  Classes will Tweet using the interactive whiteboard as a class. The administration wanted to make this process as simple as possible for teachers. They asked me to create a Twitter account for every classroom, specialist, and administrator in the building. The administration made this campaign optional for teachers.  This was HUGE, instead of it feeling like one more thing added to the teacher’s already full plates, they got to make the decision to opt in.  Out of 30 elementary teachers 20 are attending our Tweetup tomorrow! The communications manager of the school is running the main School account.  She will be following a list of all of the classrooms tweeting and re-tweet the best of the best.  The main school account will be the “face” of the school on the Internet. The administration is Tweeting as well, they have a unique and different view of the school than the classroom teachers and students do. I created several lists for teachers to follow, there is a list for every discipline and age group as well as a list of other classes and student authors that tweet. I linked every Twitter account with a Facebook Fan page for the classroom.  I turned off all commenting features so that (for now) teachers don’t have to keep track of both platforms.  The Facebook Fan Page will most likely be accessed by parents who do not use Twitter so that they can still receive class updates.   Tomorrow I am holding a Tweetup. I BEGGED that this not look like typical tech training.  You know the kind…tired teachers crammed in the computer lab at the end of the day to learn a new tool.  Been there, done that. Unless you are a mega tech geek like me, you just really don’t appreciate those kind of trainings!  I was afraid if we approached this training the way we approach all other trainings, teachers would instantly have to get past that barrier.  Instead, we are meeting at a local coffee shop after school.  I sent out fun invitations and made sure teachers knew that this was a SOCIAL event.  After all, we are talking social media! Because I know this staff well (I worked with them for 7 years, these are my friends!), I also have the benefit of knowing how comfortable they are with technology.  I suspect that they are pretty typical of school staffs everywhere.  There are some who are very comfortable with new technologies, and some who have trouble filling out a login form on their own.  I didn’t want technology to be a barrier for those who aren’t comfortable with it, so I decided to steal an idea from my friend @mcteach.  She does a paper blogging project with her students where they learn to blog and comment using paper before technology even enters the picture.  I LOVED the idea and thought it could be adapted for my Twitter Tweetup.  I made a video describing my paper tweeting method below.     Again, if you don’t have time for the video, here are the highlights: I created a paper Twitter wall on chart paper that looks pretty similar to the actual Twitter wall (if I do say so myself).  This will be up on the wall at the coffee shop during our tweetup.  The Twitter wall is blank, ready for teacher tweets to fill it up. I made a name tag for each teacher with their @username.  You know those “hello my name is”?  Yeah, it is that with their twitter handle.  Rule of the day, if you are mentioning someone by name, there must be an @ preceding it I have a stack of 10 sticky notes for each teacher with their twitter handle and “picture” at the top of the note and “140” at the bottom.  This is where teachers will compose their tweets.  The sticky note messages get stuck to the Twitter wall chart I created.  My hope is that teachers will begin to understand the public nature of Twitter in a concrete way. I have regular envelopes that I have written DM on.  Teachers can use these to deliver DM’s to a friend.  Again, I wanted a concrete way of understanding the difference between a DM (Direct Message) and an @ reply. Since tomorrow is #edchat, I’ll be prompting discussion for our paper tweetup with the #edchat topic tomorrow.  This will give me the opportunity to talk about RT (retweets) and hashtags. In addition to #edchat discussion, I’ll ask teachers to share something that happened in their classrooms today as a tweet, helping them begin thinking about how to use Twitter in their classrooms. I’ll encourage teachers to try a paper tweetup with their students so that they understand Twitter before using the technology. After our paper tweeting session, I’ll let teachers hop on to Twitter and try it out while I am there to answer questions and help with any technical difficulties.  I really don’t want to focus on the tool, but on the connections and conversations that Twitter enables.  Twitter makes it easy to do this because the platform is so simple to use.   I think tomorrow will be fun, I’ll be sure to take some pictures and share them! If you missed them the first time around, here is a link to the Twitter posters that I created for the classrooms.

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Google Sky

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 10-07-2008

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What it is:
Google comes out with some really incredible tools and Google Sky is definitely one of them. Think Google Earth for the Sky and you will get a pretty accurate picture of what Google Sky entails. Students can get up close and personal with the Solar System, Constellations, the Hubble Telescope Showcase, Backyard Astronomy, Chandra X-Ray Showcase, GALEX Ultraviolet Showcase, and the Spitzer Infared Showcase. Google Sky also provides students with podcasts about the Earth and Sky. How cool is that? Like Google Earth, students can “zoom in” to a location and pan around. They can also view the sky in different views which include infared, microwave, and historical. Unlike Google Earth, Google Sky can be viewed right from your web browser without a download which makes it very handy for the classroom.

How to integrate Google Sky into the classroom: I think you would be hard pressed to find a school who didn’t have space units woven through curriculum at nearly every grade level. Google Sky is the perfect way to bring that curriculum to life for your students. You can take a virtual field trip to space right from your web browser! The different views and options in Google Sky make it appropriate for kindergarten through college age groups. Your students will enjoy exploring the solar system and learning about galixies with this up close and personal look. This site is perfect for use with an interactive whiteboard or projector for whole class instruction, but would be equally enjoyable on individual student computers where they can explore the universe at their own pace. When students zoom in on an object, they can “hover” over the object with their mouse for some stats. So neat!

Tips: As a side note this would be a great site to couple with the Discovery Series “When We Left Earth.” If you haven’t had a chance to catch the series, they are wonderful!

Leave a comment and share how you are using Google Sky in your classroom.

Comments (1)

Hi-
I used Google Sky in my third grade classroom last week, and it was amazing! I just had to do a quick lesson on constellations. I read a little book to intro what constellations are, and then we darkened the room and fired up Google Sky on the front screen, using my laptop and projector. The kids learned so much and loved it! We just were wrapping up the solar system, so we poked around a bit on that portion as well. The students were much more engaged than they were with just the book. At the end, each student received a black piece of paper, and used a white crayon to create their own constellation in the night sky. Thanks for telling me about Google Sky!

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