On October 22, teachers in our district came together on Twitter under the hashtag #mcvsdDebate. We are a county-wide vocational district with five academies, focusing on math, science and communications. Students are academically talented and apply to their school of choice. They must complete an application and take an entrance exam. Our goal was to work with students beyond the classroom walls as they put their thoughts about the Presidential race into writing. We also wanted to teach them how to use social media to learn from students outside their class.
I recently talked with Lucas Gillispie, an instructional technology coordinator at Pender County Schools in Burgaw, North Carolina. Like Alex Pettyfer, Gillispie sports a beard befitting a Teutonic infantryman at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae or an avatar-warrior in World of Warcraft's (WoW) Dragonblight graveyard. Gillispie seems bemused by the acclaim he has received by incorporating Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplay Games (MMORPG) into the public school curriculum. To his credit, when I talked to him about three of his projects -- WoWinSchool (WoW used with middle school children), Minecraft (used with elementary students), and SAGA (Story and Game Academy) -- Gillispie repeatedly deflected credit from himself to his professional peers and administration. For conciseness, I edited some parts of the interview below.
Editor's Note: Although Kevin Curwick graduated from Osseo Senior High, the Twitter project he started continues to be a source of inspiration from current students. In this post, written when Curwick was a senior, he highlights why he started sending positive tweets to fellow classmates. (Updated 10/2013)
As simple as any introduction, my name is Kevin Curwick, and I am currently a senior at Osseo Senior High in Osseo, Minnesota -- a suburb of the Twin Cities. I have always been involved in my school and, just like many students, I strive to make a difference. I have recently been able to achieve a significant change that has already produced encouraging results.
Social media tools, including Google Tools, Twitter and Facebook, are a dynamic means of locating, applying for, and tracking grant funding. This article outlines specific methods your school can follow to grow its funding base. You can use social media tools to locate, manage, update, track, announce and implement grant funding. Acquiring funding is a relational process. You are communicating your school's story and making connections with grantors who share your values. Leverage your social media tools to improve your chances of engaging these donors.
"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." -- About Google
Google is the most powerful nonhuman teacher ever known to actual humans. Implicitly and ceaselessly, Google performs formative assessments by collecting the following data: the content, genre and media that interests you most; when and for how long you access your external cloud brain; what your hobbies and routines are; with whom you work and communicate; who will get your November vote; and whether you prefer invigorating clean mint or enamel renewal toothpaste. By continuously refining the nuance of your sociogram, Google has already customized your next web exploration and taught itself to teach.
Back in May, our team at Knapp Elementary was busy planning our annual summer reading program. Some of us had just participated in a parent-teacher chat via Twitter on maximizing opportunities to keep the learning going over the summer. We talked about ways to keep students engaged between when the school doors were closed and when they reopened in September.
"Digital citizenship" is an umbrella term that covers a whole host of important issues. Broadly, it's the guidelines for responsible, appropriate behavior when one is using technology. But specifically, it can cover anything from "netiquette" to cyberbullying; technology access and the digital divide; online safety and privacy; copyright, plagiarism, and digital law, and more. In fact, some programs that teach digital citizenship have outlined no less than nine elements that intersect to inform a well-equipped digital citizen. It's an overwhelming array of skills to be taught and topics to explore.
Every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET, I host New Teacher Chat (#ntchat) on Twitter. It's a time for new and pre-service teachers, as well as supportive administrators and experienced teachers, to gather online and have discussions about topics that are practitioner focused and supportive for the soon-to-be teacher.
What does it mean to rethink teaching and learning in the age of the Internet? That timely question will be examined from all angles this week by educators from around the globe. Appropriately, conversations will take place online in a free event called Learning 2.0.
Educators who appreciate the value of professional networks have a keen understanding of the old adage, "The wisdom is in the room." For this growing community, "room" means any space -- virtual or physical -- where colleagues connect, exchange insights, and push each other's thinking.