Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Using Technology to Up Student Engagement

Keeping students engaged in class is every teacher’s goal.  During a recent conversation that I had with 8th grade science teacher, Adam Harnack, we discussed the ways that he interjects technology into his classroom keep his students engaged.  The ideas he shared are easy to implement in any class and have big results in connecting students with learning. Check out a few of his ideas or give one a try yourself!

  • YouTube Video:  Students spend a lot of their own time look at YouTube videos.  Let's face it; it’s their version of TV.  Mr. Harnack uses YouTube videos as another approach to share content, reiterate his point during the lecture or extend their thinking on the topic they are covering.  Short videos can do a great job of breaking up the lecture or discussion and for some students, can help them to refocus on class.

  • Kahoot:  Kahoot's goal is to make learning awesome! And it is an engaging and fun way to review with your students.  It’s free to create an account and in this program you can create quizzes, discussion or surveys to share with your students. According to Mr. Harnack “go nuts and the level of engagement is through the roof!”  The teacher creates the quiz or finds one that is already made and launches the Kahoot.  Students can use any device: laptop, iPad, or phone to log in to play along in class.  Students get points for correct answers and Kahoot generates a leaderboard after every question, which is very motivating for students.  It’s great to use for formative assessment checks because the teacher can print a spreadsheet off of which questions the students missed.

  • Instagram: Mr. Harnack uses the visual social media platform of Instagram to keep his students engaged outside of class.  On his Instagram, he posts science pictures or asks questions through his account to keep his students thinking even after class is over.  It's a great 21st century skill for students to practice and for them to see their teacher modeling appropriate use on social media.

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Grant Wood AEA Technology Consultant. Want to share what is going on in your class or collaborate on a technology project? Feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Capture the Moment with Instagram

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, as a former middle school teacher, I wonder, do most middle schoolers share that many words with their parents about what happened at school?  What if more educators shared images of learning in their classroom? This is what makes the social media outlet, Instagram, such an important tool to allow a window into the school environment.  Instagram is an app that allows you to share photos in an instant.  It makes it a great platform for educators to capture and share moments quickly in the fast-paced school environment.

Starting this school year, you can follow @solonmiddleschool to get a glimpse into life at Solon Middle School.  Principal Mike Herdliska started the account not only to allow a window into the school, but also to capture the students using the social media outlet that is relevant to them.  

The important thing to note, especially with this age group, is that a big part of the use of social media with a school is to model appropriate social media use for students.  As Principal Herdliska notes, “It’s important for students to see social media as a way to share what you want, it’s not about the amount of likes that you get.”  His overall goal is to celebrate the unique nature of the middle school students that make up the culture of the school, not to promote social media.  Instagram is often the preferred social media outlet for middle schoolers, many students are already using it, so this is an opportunity to promote positive social media usage.

If you are looking at sharing great things happening in your classroom, the ease of using Instagram is very appealing.  You can either choose a photo from your camera roll or snap a photo or short video right in the app, add a fun filter and description and you’re done!  

Principal Herdliska shared some great Instagram Tips:

  • Just get started.  It’s easy to jump into Instagram because it is so fast to share out and capture special learning moments to share your class culture.  It takes only three clicks to upload a photo to Instagram.
  • Find Your Style. Once you begin, you’ll realize what works best into the flow of your class.  Maybe you’ll choose to capture students at work, special events in the classroom, or maybe you’ll just choose one day of the week to upload photos.  You have to figure out what works best for you.
  • It’s free advertising!  It’s a great way to celebrate the awesome things that are happening in your classroom.  Let your students & parents know what your Instagram handle is and how you are using Instagram through email or newsletters to allow build awareness about how you are using social media with your students.

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Grant Wood AEA Technology Consultant. Want to share what is going on in your class or collaborate on a technology project? Feel free to contact me.