Recently, NPR launched a new blog entitled Code Switch to examine the "frontiers of race, culture and ethnicity." Blog host Gene Demby explains: "We're looking at code switching a little more broadly. Many of us subtly, reflexively change the way we express ourselves all the time. We're hop-scotching between different cultural and linguistic spaces and different parts of our own identities -- sometimes within a single interaction."
This year, I admitted a hard truth to myself. I wasn't having my students write enough. In an attempt to follow Kelly Gallagher’s advice that students should write more than we can assess, I decided to have them blog weekly.
A few days ago a student approached me and said he needed to talk about something, and he wanted to meet the next day at recess. I appreciated the way he reached out to me and I looked forward to the opportunity to meet with him. He came into my office with a sheepish look on his face, spoke in a quiet voice and said that he had done something he was not feeling good about. I asked him what it was, and he informed me that he had violated the technology policy by downloading some games onto his school-issued iPad, bypassing restrictions and settings.
Since I started in education, I have been trying to find ways to connect students' learning beyond the classroom walls. Initially, the task presented many hurdles. Infrastructure was limited, devices were bulky and slow, and the access was not quite available. In order to connect students with the outside world, a permission slip and a school bus were needed. Today, many of those hurdles have been overcome, and connecting students beyond the classroom is a viable option. To make those connections, I use Google Hangouts.
A Hangout is a web-based tool created by Google for communicating through video. Up to ten people can "hang out" at one time in a virtual "room." A Hangout can be as simple or as complex as needed for the task at hand. It can be used simply to converse or, through the use of extra apps and add-ons that Google provides, a Hangout can become a robust, virtual meeting space.
I tried to write a single piece on raising digital kids at home -- but childhood is just too epic a journey for a single piece. Still, the overall strategy for technology in the home is the same from birth to high school graduation: match their developmental level, and make sure they understand whatever medium they are using from the inside out: who made this, how does it work, and what does it want from me?
While the schools in our district are not far apart in terms of distance, it is often difficult for them to make connections with each other even though we have the best intentions and we all realize the potential for increased engagement when we do facilitate these experiences. As part of an increased emphasis on technology integration in our district, as well as our mixed device program, we've started using some tools that we have in common to facilitate these connections between classrooms throughout the district.
When I explained the assignment, the classroom erupted in cries and groans. Students in my sophomore “The Individual and Society” course were to spend 48 hours, from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, without electronic media. The course examines the relationship between the individual and society in three modes: politics, economics, and culture. This was an assignment during the third mode, and we were exploring how electronic media shape an individual’s relation to the larger culture.
I think it's fair to say that Twitter can no longer be dismissed as a trivial passing fad. Though I had dabbled with a personal account, my entire opinion changed when I started my @VideoAmy account and dove in to the conversations educators were engaged in. While some people certainly do tweet about what they're having for breakfast, teachers, administrators, and educational organizations use Twitter in a whole different way -- making smart use of those 140 characters to share resources, wisdom, and inspiration.