An Inquiry into Teaching & Learning w/ Social Media

Yesterday the #AISQ8 elementary school engaged in an afternoon of professional personal learning. Based on previous feedback from staff, the leadership team asked me to facilitate a workshop on teaching and learning with social media. I used Kath Murdoch‘s Inquiry Cycle to plan the workshop and brainstormed with Christina to help refine it. I used Elena Aguilar’s Mind the Gap Framework to assist teachers in identifying their areas of success and growth (re: teaching & learning w/ social media).

Pre-assessment (we didn't have time for post)

Teachers identified their areas of success and growth.

I reached out to my PLN to help get buy-in from teachers during the Finding Out stage. There were lots of awesome responses! A HUGE thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute 🙂

We got started late and were pretty rushed in the 40 minutes we had and had to skip most of the Making Conclusions & Taking Action steps. I’m excited to have this new workshop framework for introducing teachers to social media and can’t wait to try it again! I was particularly intrigued by the discussion that the Think-Pair-Share lead to. It’s interesting to hear differing perspectives on what social media is, why we use it and how different media are used.

Update: I did not share the picture above with teachers after our workshop. So today (9 days later), I sent a follow-up email with the picture and some probing questions to get them thinking:

  • What assumptions are (still) informing your perspective about social media (in education)?
  • What have you done in the last 9 days to mind your gap?
  • What will be/has been your first small step forward?
  • If time was not an issue, how would you use social media in teaching and learning?
  • What will you do this week to mind your gap? This month? This year?
  • How would you answer these questions?

I’m not expecting responses but this gave me a chance to work on my questioning skills. I hope it gets them thinking as we head into the weekend!

Advertisements

Why are you connected?

Tomorrow (afternoon of February 2) I’ll be facilitating a workshop for #AISQ8 (elementary) staff on using social media in teaching and learning. From my experience educators need to buy-in before spending (precious!) time learning and developing their social media presence. And that presence is essential if you want to genuinely use social media in teaching and learning. How can you help your students become connected if you aren’t?

I would love your (my wonderful PLN) thoughts on some questions to (hopefully) help garner some buy-in from teachers. Feel free to discuss here, on Twitter, on my COETAIL blog or if submit here if you prefer to remain anonymous. Merci bien!

  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network and be professionally connected? What sparked your commitment?
  • How did you become connected? What, specifically, did you do to cultivate your PLN?
  • Why do you stay connected? What keeps you coming back to your PLN?
  • How do you stay connected? How do you balance what you put in (time) with what you get out (benefits)?
  • How do you balance creating your social media brand with staying authentically you (in a space where many people don’t actually know you personally)?
  • How has being connected impacted your learning? Your teaching?
  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network for your classroom/students? What sparked your commitment?
  • Why do you keep your classroom connected/open? What impact has this had on your students?
  • What advice do you have for teachers who are looking to start using social media for teaching and learning?
  • What ‘connected’ experiences have impacted you/your classroom the most? These personal stories can have a huge influence on other educators thinking about becoming connected.
  • Any other thoughts are also welcome and appreciated! 🙂

Inquiring into Technology

In the fall two grade 3 teachers asked my colleague and I to introduce iPad apps to their classes. After some coaching, we decided to start with introducing the big ideas behind presenting information before the apps. We’ve done that (post coming soon) and now the classes are ready to go further with some practical application of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity. But because I like to think big (and make more work for myself), I wondered what a learning experience would look like for introducing any app to students.

Could we create a learning experience that could be adapted by teachers/instructional coaches for any creation app/program (and would not be boring or repetitive for students)?

After doing some brainstorming with Andria based on Kath Murdoch‘s Inquiry Cycle, I drafted the learning experience below. Anyone with the link is able to comment…looking forward to your warm and cool feedback!

Ancient civilizations coming to life

Have I mentioned that I one of my biggest passions is connecting classrooms around the world? Hopefully that’s old news because I’ve let it ooze into most of the posts I write. The grade 2 blog about Sharing the Planet w/ a focus on water is up and running – and they’re eager to read posts & comments from classrooms & experts around the world.

Next up – grade 3! Andria and Anna have been going through the COETAIL journey together and are gearing up to start their course 5 final project. They have chosen the IB PYP unit of Where We Are in Place and Time in which the students will be learning about ancient civilizations. Read more specifics here and here.


via Stux on Pixabay

Andria and Anna are hoping to connect their students to other classrooms that live in the ancient civilizations they will be studying – China, Egypt, Rome/Italy, Greece, Maya (southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria). Although Mesopotamia is the closest to Kuwait, it might also be the most difficult to connect to.

Their unit starts at the beginning of March. If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting to a grade 3 class in Kuwait, please let one of us know! They are open to Mystery Skypes, video chats, asynchronous communication and any other ideas you have 🙂

AISK grade 2 wants to share the planet with you


Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Our IB PYP grade 2 classes are getting started this week with their next Unit of Inquiry – Sharing the Planet. In order to enhance and share their learning, they have started a blog. Our classes will be posting but they want to hear from YOU (teachers, students, experts, etc)! Here’s how you can help:

  • leave comments on their posts
  • become an author on the blog
  • share how/why you conserve water
  • participate in & share simple experiments with water
  • share something about water (stories, feelings, how you use it, how much you drink or waste, etc)

If you (or someone you know) have any questions or would like to participate, please let us know! They are excited to get perspectives from classrooms all over the world.

More about their unit:

Central Idea: Survival depends on conservation of resources.

ThemeSharing the Planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things.

Focus: Earth Science; Chemistry; Language; PSPE; Social Studies; Math

Lines of inquiry:

  • the properties of water
  • how living things depend on water
  • the availability and distribution throughout the world
  • our responsibility toward the conservation of water

Internationalism: Students will be encouraged to inquire into global issues related to the usage and conservation of water.

Transdisciplinary Skills:
Research Skills: Students will formulate questions, collect data, organize data, and record data. Students will keep record of their usage of water. They will find ways to conserve water. They will also research different animals and plants to inquire into the ways they use/need water.
Thinking Skills: Students will think about themselves, their learning, and those around them. They will carefully consider the ways they use water and how to persuade those around them.

Learner Profile Traits:
Reflective: Students will reflect on their water usage, how they can conserve it and the importance of water to all living things.
Principled: Students will be encouraged to reflect upon their usages of water in their daily lives and improve their practices.

Attitudes:
Integrity: Students will be encouraged to start making better choices and to inspire others to make better choices when using water.
Commitment: Students will be committed to conserving water throughout the rest of the year. Classes will be encouraged to create a contract about water conservation.

Assessment Strategy: Performance Assessment
The students will create a persuasive media piece about conserving water. The media piece must include an overview that details the properties of water, how living things depend on it and why it is important to conserve this resource. The media piece must also include recommendations about how to conserve this resource. Students will be given guided framework for their research.

The sweet sound of student excitement

Today I participated in my first Mystery Skype. Awhile ago Alex was searching on Twitter for a class to Skype with. I contacted our 2nd & 3rd grade teachers and Andria was interested (love our COETAILers at AIS!). It took some logistical planning, but we made it work today!

It was awesome. You had to be there to feel & hear the energy of the students. I loved being a part of it. As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of thing is what makes me love teaching & education. Both groups of students were excited before they even started. They eagerly created Yes/No questions that would help them figure out where the other class was. As their questions were answered and they gathered information they had to quickly adjust their questions based on their knowledge. They were excited about inquiry without even really knowing it.

IMG_6357

Our students had Atlas books. They started with the world page (no countries labeled). Once they found out that the other class was in Africa they turned to the world page with countries labeled. As they asked questions about where in Africa, Andria & I helped them use their hands to cover up where we knew they weren’t (North, South, West). When they narrowed it down to the Horn, we showed them the page with only those countries. I wish I would have been taking video when one of our students asked if they were in Ethiopia and the response was yes – the entire class cheered. The only cheer bigger may have been when the other class figured out that we are in Kuwait!

What Andria thought about the experience: “My class and I enjoyed the mystery Skype session immensely! I cannot believe the amount of learning that went on in such short period of time. I definitely want to do it again.”

Both classes figured it out a lot faster than I thought they would which gave us time at the end to ask open-ended questions about the countries. I think our students’ favorite question was about the type of animals in Ethiopia. They were shocked that there are SO many exotic animals in the wild. I’ll have to share my pictures from Learning 2 with our students so they can see the ICS campus. Our principal visited the room right after we ended and was bummed to miss it. But the excitement of the students was still evident and they were able to relive their experience by telling him. Hopefully we can have more opportunities like this for our students in the near future. Our principal would like to share these kind of things with parents so that they are excited for global connections and technology in the classroom. I’d also like to experiment with giving the students access to Maps on their iPads while they are Skyping.

This was extra cool because Andria is from South Africa. The perfect first Mystery Skype – connecting to ‘home’! I learned that Kuwait is a really difficult location to find which makes us the perfect Mystery Skype partners 😉

Next week our elementary is doing an EdCamp during their division meeting. I’ve decided to facilitate a session on Mystery Skype. But what better way to help teachers understand it than to actually do it?! If anyone (teachers or classes) is interested in talking to us Tuesday, December 2 between 3 and 4pm GMT+3, PLEASE let me know! [It wouldn’t take the entire hour, probably just 3:25 to 3:45pm with the teachers.] 

Community walk

In November, I participated in a Community Walk with one of our Grade 2 classes as part of their ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’ unit of inquiry. Their teacher, Ms. Kira, is currently working on her International Teaching Certificate and IB level 1 award and this was part of her course requirements.

In groups of 2 (each with an adult supervisor), students walked around the community near our school for 30 minutes. The majority of our students do not live near the school so this was a new experience for them. Their goal was to take pictures of the community and interview someone in order to learn about life in the community. Shahad and Lulwa were ready to go with their interview questions (2 pages!) and iPad.

They wandered around a bit before finding a man working at a bakala (convenience store) who agreed to answer their questions.

They had two full pages of questions that were…quite interesting and definitely detailed! Although I did have to help focus them, it was really fun to see them interact with a local community member in both Arabic and English.

They took pictures and videos using their school iPads during their walk in order to create a presentation for their classmates and parents. Afterwards, they ended up creating a 6 minute long Explain Everything…it was a struggle to watch. The heart was there but it was a time when the technology seemed to inhibit the demonstration of their learning. Explain Everything just has a few too many tools for 2nd graders. But I was also impressed that they did the video all by themselves (I had my suspicions about some of the other groups).

Overall I really enjoyed being a part of this experience and hope I can be more involved next year! Kira asked me to reflect further on the experience:

Explain how you believe the Community contributed to the cultural life of your school and how it contributed to the local community.

  • Most of our students don’t live in the community of the school. Being forced to actually go out and explore this community helped the students understand what life is like here. The saw the stark differences from what they’re used to seeing where they live. Walking around the community was not a normal part of their everyday lives and took courage on behalf of the students (and adults!). The walk helped our students become more open-minded and reflective. It also benefited the community – our school and the community are kept almost completely separate  99% of the time. This was a fantastic opportunity for the community to see and interact with the students at our school. It created a better understanding, both on the part of the school and the community, about what is on the other side of the walls. Our students took a risk to be communicators with adults in the community and were rewarded when those adults treated them with respect. Everyone learned something!

How did the Community Walk change your perception of the local community?

  • I enjoy interacting with the local businesses around our school (while still being conscious of my surroundings). Although I live in the community, our walk took us to streets that I do not often traverse. I enjoyed seeing the new businesses and how the employees interacted with the students. It was definitely a positive experience!