I recently had the privilege of participating in Vicki Davis’s show, 10 minute teacher. We talked about teaching students new Media Literacy skills in the era of “Fake News.”
Devices have become omnipresent in our classrooms. Often, these tools are used as expensive, electronic content delivery systems. However, the real power in technology in schools is that it empowers students to become content creators. Smartphones and tablets, even more so, have allowed them to become mobile and agile ones. Most educators know that individuals learn far more about a topic when they must explain it to someone else. Additionally, by employing multiple learning modalities through the creative process (tactile, kinesthetic, visible, etc), students process material more thoroughly. As you think about your lesson plans in the future, consider empowering students to create rather than just consume. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Create a Video
I am a fan of giving students guiding questions and parameters, then having them make an educational video. In my documentaries project, students must answer address a specific topic (e.g. “Where did George Washington get his reputation for honesty?” or “Was Benedict Arnold solely a villain of the Revolutionary War?”). We talk about creating
content in an engaging way, incorporating images and videos effectively (and ethically), pacing content, and selecting what to include or leave out. Videos are not exclusive to the humanities. I have seen math teachers effectively use them by having students demonstrate how to solve complex problems and science teachers as a recording and reflection for labs. I also encourage students to post their videos publicly (when age appropriate) or to the class via a closed portal (for younger students). By posting their videos publicly and sharing with the class, they are presenting to an authentic audience. Making a video is easy and can by done with a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer. Free software options include iMovie (MacOS & iOS), Movie Maker (Windows), and FilmoraGo (iOS & Android).
Create a Podcast
Podcasts are become ever more popular. There are podcasts to cover news, popular entertainment, hobbies, sports, cultural phenomena, and more. Task your class with
creating a podcast on a topic relevant to your course. If you are a Social Studies teacher, perhaps a weekly podcast on current events. If you teach science, a weekly science report relevant to the topic. Math? Try incorporating an update on a complex topic students are tackling that week. Podcasting can help students work on their public speaking skills as well as how to effectively present to an audience. Again, by sharing the podcast with the public at large or just the class and/or school, students learn what it is to engage with a broader audience. Podcasting can be done easily with a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer paired with a simple microphone to drown out ambient sound (the microphone on headphones can work in a pinch or you can invest in something a little more substantive). My favorite free apps for podcasting include: Garageband (MacOS & iOS) and Audacity (MacOS & Windows).
My students complete a year long research project that they post on a comprehensive website. Through creating an online portal, they learn how to write effectively for a broad audience, how to cite material so that it is accessible online, how to create and incorporate various types of media, and how to effectively organize and lay-out content. What I especially like about website creation is that it allows students to combine skills that they have learned throughout the year (e.g. video and podcasting). We have all seen “good” and “bad” websites. When it’s published online, students want theirs to look good. As such, it also serves as a basic primer in basic graphic design. There are numerous free website tools out there. If your school is a G-Suite for Education school, then I highly recommend using the new Google Sites. Not only is it easy to use, but it readily allows for collaboration. You can also check out weebly or wix.
If you’re in a school where students have access to devices, I strongly encourage having them turn those devices into content creators. You will find that it empowers them as learners and makes their learning more applicable and deep.
It’s August… school will be starting soon for many of us. In fact, I have less than three weeks before I’m sitting in a classroom with children again. What does this mean for most educators? It’s time to start thinking about school once again. If you haven’t noticed, I made a concerted effort in the month of July to unplug. This meant little writing and little (electronic) reading. However, it’s time to get back at it! Here are 5 blogs that I follow that help me get back in the school year mindset. Add these to your favorite RSS reader (if you need one, check out Feedly).
Cult of Pedagogy covers everything from the social implications of education to specific practices in your classroom. This is a great place to stay on top of trends, practice, and the emotional roller coaster that is education.
I had the privilege of meeting Richard Wells at a conference a few years ago. He is truly an innovative and forward thinking educator. If you want to see what innovative pedagogy looks like in practice, then his blog is it. He is a lead teacher in New Zealand, a country that has revamped its educational practices with dramatic results. No tests? check! No set curriculum? That’s them! No grade levels? Yep, right there! It’s truly an inspiration.
While Marti Weston may have retired from schools, she has not retired from education. Once a week or so, I find a thoughtful and provocative post on a relevant topic. I had the privilege of working with Marti via ISTE. She is an inspirational educator.
This public media blog covers educational topics across a myriad of topics: low-income students, special education, department of education, etc. It’s a great place to see what’s happening in education throughout the country.
Audrey Waters certainly knows what’s happening in education. Sometimes inspiring, other times provocative, I come away from this blog with a lot to process. This is a great place to reflect on current policies and practice.
These are only 5 blogs… there are hundreds, no thousands, that merit your attention. If you have one you think I should highlight, please share it in the comments. Better yet, start your own!
Fake News is the phrase du jour. The reality is that misinformation propagates social media (especially Facebook). With the proliferation of Social Media and the use of Social Media (by main stream news organizations, political pundits, and our sitting President), it will remain a platform for sharing information (including the news) for the foreseeable future. Both Facebook and Google have made attempts to tackle fake news. In addition to their own filtering methods, Facebook allows users to flag and report fake news stories. Google has also expanded its fact-check tools to spot and flag fake news.
The reality is, however, that we cannot expect our online platforms to keep up with the deluge of fake media. Media literacy is a necessary skill for our students to learn in order for them to wade through the glut of information available to them online. However, a recent study from Stanford found that most students cannot tell real news from fake.
There is an exercise that I like to do with my students. We talk about the realities of fake news, perhaps ask them to share stories that they thought were real, but later learned were fake. I share with them resources for spotting fake news:
- NPR – Real or Fake? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts
- FactCheck.org – How to Spot Fake News
- Common Sense Media – How to Spot Fake News (And Teach Kids to be Media Savvy)
- HowStuffWorks.com – 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story
- International Federation of Library Associations: Infographic on Spotting Fake News:
Next, I ask them to create a Fake News Story for me. Something that they are likely to see online via Facebook. For this exercise, students often create the obvious: “You Won’t Believe what the Democrats did this Time!” or “Donald Trump is Getting Impeached!” examples. These stories are the most obvious to spot.
The best exercise, however, comes when I ask them to team up and we make a game out of each. Each team presents five news stories. Three of those news articles are fake, two are real. If they are able to “trick” the opposing teams, they receive 1 point for each news article they fool the opposition into believing. They receive 1 point for each article they correctly identify as fake. Students then work really hard to “trick” their classmates – they play off of one another’s known biases, create convincing “news networks,” and spell check like no one’s business! They learn the ins-and-outs of posting and sharing news, viral marketing, and deceptive practices. This makes them better discerners of published media and more able-minded digital citizens.
Jonathan Wylie does an amazing job outlining a K-12 coding curriculum using Apple Tools
Apple’s coding curriculum for schools has been expanded and updated recently to include a full spectrum of offerings for students in K-12 classrooms. It even includes the ability to code smart toys like Spheros and drones. So, if you have access to Apple devices in your school, you should definitely take a look at what this program can offer teachers and students. Here’s what you can expect.
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Google just announced several key new features for Google Classroom that allow teachers to differentiate work for their students. Teachers can now assign work to students or groups of students.
With this feature, students can also discreetly receive extra practice if they’re struggling with a new subject.
They have also announced new notification methods for when students submit work late or resubmit. Check out the latest updates on Google’s blog here.
The new Google Forms allows you to create self-grading quizzes right within the form (no need for an add-on!). This is a great way to create bell-ringers, exit tickets, or quick assessments. Creating a self-graded form is easy!
First, create a new Google Form and give it a title. Next enter your questions (for auto-grading, they will need to be in the form of multiple-choice, check boxes, or drop-down. Once you have created your quiz, click on the settings button (the gear shaped icon in the top right). Select the “Quizzes” tab and toggle on “Make this a Quiz.”
Next you can select when students will see their scores and if they can answers they left blank.
Next, you will need to set your answer key. At the bottom of questions you have already created or new ones that you create, there will be a blue “Answer Key.” Click on this button. You will then select the right answer(s) that will be used as the key. You can also set the number of points each question is worth.
Once you have set all of your answers and point values, the quiz is ready to go! You can share with students via email, link, or even QR code!