Tag Archives: digital literacy

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

This is a guest post from Amy Williams. Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

What items come to mind when you think about classroom supplies? Do you envision notebooks and number two pencils? Your list probably included staples like erasers, crayons, and glue sticks, but did you consider how social media can be a powerful learning tool in the classroom?

Social media has the power to take what students enjoy and extend lessons that offer students real world applications. Instilling a love of learning is no easy task, especially in a world that is constantly changing with fancier and brighter screens. Our students’ fascination with technology makes it important for educators to integrate lessons and increase classroom participation by embracing our children’s favorite means of expression: social media.

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The Benefits Of Social Media In The Classroom

Even though social media has gotten a bad rap in the news, it has the possibility to extend learning opportunities beyond the building’s walls. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful gadgets, but they can be a real distraction during instruction time. One way to avoid constant technology monitoring is to harness this love for social media and use it productively in the classroom.

Listed below are 6 benefits to using social media in education:

  • Lower-income students will have access to technology and chances to build these skills. Social media has the power to help overcome the digital divide when it comes to different economic groups.
  • It allows quiet or reserved students the opportunity to be heard.
  • It offers relevant ways to check for understanding.
  • Simultaneously fosters learning and technology skills.
  • Activities are shared with authentic audiences.
  • Content is meaningful to our younger generations of visual learners.

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

Integrating social media with our curriculums opens a world of possibilities for a teacher and the classroom. However, teaching with technology often poses it’s own set of problems from equipment failure, down networks, and dead batteries. Social media is no exception and often there will be a few kinks to work out before using it in a lesson.

Here are some suggestions to help bring social media into the classroom:

  • Keep your professional/classroom pages separate from your personal profile.
  • Know the school’s policy on social media and privacy.
  • Get a parent or guardian to sign a permission slip allowing you to post student work or images on class websites.
  • Make sure that students are well versed in social media etiquette.
  • Create classroom accounts for students to limit personal distractions during class.
  • Check the resources and beware of inappropriate pop-ups or advertising.
  • Be familiar with the platform and understand the privacy settings, potential problem areas, and ways to troubleshoot.

Ideas To Bring Social Media To Life

After managing to successfully introduce social media into lessons: the real fun can begin. Here is a compilation of ways teachers have upgraded lesson plans to include social media:

  • Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Create a group or page for each class on a social media outlet. You can post assignments to keep students and parents informed about approaching deadlines or projects.

  • Use Twitter to follow threads or current events by using hashtags to sort topics. Connect with experts, authors, classes around the world, and more by interacting with tweets.
  • Set up a blog to take journaling to a new level! Help students hone their writing skills to create and display their works for a bigger audience. Blogging has the potential for feedback from peers, professionals, and people other than a teacher.
  • Utilize sites like Class Dojo to keep parents informed on class behavior or for positive classroom management.
  • Create concept videos using Vine or YouTube. This can be a group or whole class project that allows students take the reigns while getting creative, having fun, displaying their best work, and gaining a deep understanding of the topic.
  • Use Pinterest boards to organize concept maps for any topic. This works great for biomes, animal classification, heritage studies, and more.
  • Use quiz sites like Kahoot or trivia games to make reviewing topics fun. Students use computers or Smartphones to answer quizzes on various subjects while you are able to measure comprehension.
  • Use Instagram or other photo services to host a scavenger hunt that requires students to post items that fit a certain theme. This can be adjusted to any grade level easily. For instance you can have them look for objects that start with a certain letter or post items that are related to a historical figure.

Educators are always on the lookout for new ways to use social media in the classroom. Do you have any tips for using social media with lessons?

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Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research.

Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher– an advertiser on this site.If you have asked your students to engage in research, then undoubtedly they have returned with a fresh list of results from a Google search. It can be a challenge in this era of search engine algorithms to teach students to engage with more traditional research methods and tools. Google Scholar is a great way to introduce them to this work while simultaneously working in a mode that is more familiar to them.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a Google search engine that allows you to look specifically for academic articles… freetech4teachers

Game-Based Digital Literacy with Digital Compass

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

Common Sense Media has released Digital Compass, a new tool to teach students about navigating the digital world. The game is targeted at middle school students, an age when most children are getting cell phones and social media accounts (like Facebook and Instagram).

Through playing this digital, “choose your own adventure” game, students explore topics like: cyberbullying & “digital drama,” self-image & identity, internet safety & privacy, creative credit & copyright, as well as relationships & communication. The game is currently available online with iOS, Android, and edmodo apps coming soon.

Common Sense Media also provides…

read the remainder of the article here.

Can you use this picture?

Teaching students what images & videos they can and cannot use is the next level of digital literacy! I discuss this in my posts “How to find License Free Content for School Projects” and “How to Find License-Free Content for School.”

History Tech

In the brave, new world of social media, mashups, and instant information, it becomes very easy to intentionally or unintentionally use the intellectual property of others inappropriately.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some sort of flow chart, an infographic perhaps, to decide how and when to use images that you might find online?

Thanks to The Visual Communication Guy, there is such a thing. The Guy created a very handy guide that will walk you and your students through the process of deciding whether you should or shouldn’t use a specific image.

use this image?

Get the full version here.

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Getty Museum Adds Another 77,000 Images to its Open Content Archive – Open Culture

Open Culture has announced that the Getty Museum has published an additional 77,000 images to its Open Content Archive! The Getty Museum’s Open Content Archive is a

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

Bust of the Emperor Commodus. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

repository of images that the museum has placed in the Public Domain.

More than 87,000 high resolution images are now available via the Getty’s Open Content Archive. To learn more about this project and other resources available to the public, see the article by Open Content Archive:

Getty Museum Adds Another 77,000 Images to its Open Content Archive – Open Culture.

How to Infuse Digital Literacy Throughout Your Curriculum

This is reblogged from my post on PLPVoices.

digital-literacy-250So how are we doing on the push to teach “digital literacy” across the K12 school spectrum? From my perspective as a school-based technology director and history teacher, I’d say not as well as we might wish – in part because our traditional approach to curriculum and instruction wants to sort everything into its place.

Digital literacy is defined as “the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies.” Many educational and business professional cite is as a critical 21st century skill. Even so, many schools have struggled to adapt it into their curriculum.

This is often because most institutions already have rigorous, established curricula with little wiggle room – and this is especially true in schools subject to state and federal testing. Content becomes king. However, there are ways that schools can adapt these skills into existing structures – integrating them into their current pedagogical framework.

Evaluating online content is a research skill

Administrators often tell me they cannot meet new digital literacy requirements because they cannot add a “digital literacy” course or requirement. Here’s the other way: the need for students to “critically navigate and evaluate” online content is better viewed as an extension of research skills. Just as we don’t teach a class called “research,” we do not need to teach “evaluating online content” as a separate course or unit of study. We should teach research skills in the context of existing subject matter.

For example, when my students do research in US History, they are not only allowed butencouraged to use online content. However, when using internet material (as opposed to a peer reviewed article or an academic book), they need to include further evaluation of the content.

CRAAPtest-visualOne of my favorite tools to use in doing this is the CRAAP test developed by the University of California at Chico. This method requires students to evaluate a source based on its Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. In fact, this method could easily be applied to “traditional” sources as well. (Here’s a public source handout.)

With the rise of academics who write blogs and use social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), and given the wealth of self-published content generally, pertinent information is now moving away from traditional forms. A student in science can learn a great deal from Neil Degrass Tyson’s Podcast; in fact, it’s likely a more accessible medium for young students than his published articles. Additionally, students need to know what online content they can reproduce and how to credit it properly (digital ethics).

The problem students face in the new world is no longer access to information, but rather how to deal with the glut of content that confronts them when they google a research topic. If we want them to effectively navigate online material (as 21st century learners), then research now needs to include not only “traditional” methods and materials, but digital ones as well. We need to ensure that they know how to evaluate a website, a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook entry. These evaluative skills transfer cross curricularly and prepare students for the broader world of online communication.

Engaging online is a modern communication skill

Engaging in effective discourse and debate is a necessary skill that many of us learned in school via class discussions, group activities, classroom debates, in class presentations, etc. Being able to effectively communicate is a requirement to success in many facets of life (academia, business, personal life, etc).

In our emerging digital world, a new medium of exchange has developed: online engagement, especially via social media. Effectively engaging online requires a myriad of skills that we strive to foster in school – effective written communication, brevity and civility. These components are often highlighted in Digital Citizenship programs, but in tradition-bound K12 education, we often deride social media as trite or ineffective.

Brian-MuseHowever, social media use has quickly grown in professional and academic realms. I recently had a conversation with a friend from my high school days, Brian Muse. Brian is a successful attorney with a practice focused on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The primary focus of our conversation was the role that social media plays in Brian’s practice.

Even I (an avid proponent of the power of online engagement) was surprised at how much value Brian and his peers put on social media. In addition to maintaining an active Twitter account (with the full encouragement of his firm), he also writes a blog on relevant ADA law.

Brian told me that social media, especially Twitter, is an effective tool for legal professionals in several ways: networking, branding, and research. As an attorney in a dynamic field, it’s his job to predict where the law is going; Twitter serves as an effective crowdsourcing medium for him to take the pulse of labor law. His online presence and engagement (through his blog and Twitter account) allows him to share his knowledge with others and has led to several referrals from attorneys or chambers of commerce.

Speaking both a professional and a parent, Brian told me: “Any child that graduates high school with these skills will have such a leg up in this business world.”

Just as we anticipate that the traditional communication skills we teach children as part of our established curriculum will translate to a broader skill set, so will their ability to engage with people safely and effectively online. Likewise, just as we do not need to establish a separate curriculum or class for “digital literacy,” we can incorporate updated 21st century communication skills across our established curricular models.

Students need to create. Projects become digital.

If you are familiar with the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, then you know that creation is at the highest order of learning. Teachers recognize this; it’s why we give students various projects and assignments: a science experiment, a research essay, a model UN debate, etc. With new technologies, students have the ability to create dynamic, multi-media projects quickly and easily. By combining these tools with a sophisticated topic, we can engage students in new and creative ways.

For example, my history students make documentaries for class. This project requires that they perform sophisticated research (using both traditional and digital resources), incorporate a variety of media (images, video, sound, etc), they must write, and then they present/peer review in class. This modernized research project addresses all of the elements of digital literacy in my classroom yet doesn’t require additional in or out of class time to implement. It is an effective way to engage my students in effective, 21st century learning.

One reason that teachers are often hesitant to adopt new technologies or give students digitally enhanced assignments is because they themselves are unfamiliar with the available tools – and suppose that giving a “Movie Project” requires that they teach about movie making software. I try to encourage my faculty to “let go.” Tell the students what the final project should look like (such as a video) and then tell them to pick the venue that works best for them to create a finished project.

New technology is easy to use/navigate and with YouTube and online blogs, students can easily teach themselves how to use them. Now this doesn’t mean that faculty should not learn these new tools. In fact, I often challenge my faculty to use MovieMaker for their laptops or iMovie on their iPads to create a video of anything they want (their children, a pet, a favorite sports team).

Not only do they discover how easy it is to use the software, they see how quickly they can overcome any hurdles they encounter in the process. In fact, I often tout creative problem solving as important skill for students to develop – projects like this help them to develop those skills.

Digital Literacy: An everyday dimension of learning

Digital Literacy is a crucial skill that we as educators must foster and encourage in our classrooms (and administrators must support in the broader curriculum). I hope that these examples have helped to demonstrate how 21st century skills do not require additional class time or new course development. They often do require some tweaking of our established curricula.

I strongly encourage administrators to provide robust professional development and learning time for their staff and faculty. Your teachers can integrate digital literacy into everyday learning, provided you share the resources and support they need to shift a traditional curriculum to a more innovative one. If you do, our students will be better digital citizens and curators of online content; a necessary skill for success in the 21st century and a valuable contribution to civil society.

Common Sense Media on the iTunes Store

image-1360x520I love Common Sense Media. They are an excellent resource for parents and teachers for topics such as Digital Citizenship, Online Safety, Online Ethics, Digital Literacy, and more. Best yet, the tools they provide are entirely free!

Check out their free resources on the iTunes store by clicking here; enjoy free iBooks, Apps, and other resources.