Project Based Learning (PBL) is a topic I have been interested in for many years. As I am more than half way through the MET program at Boise State, I am thrilled to be taking the course Edtech 542 Technology-Supported Project-Based Learning. The first two weeks have included class introductions and an overview of PBL. The course utilizes the website Buck Institute for Education (BIE) as a key source of information. I have followed the BIE website for a few years and used some of their resources. It contains a wealth of information that I am looking forward to exploring. I am eager to learn how to effectively transition my classroom from a direct instruction approach to a student centered/student directed environment. As the course progresses, I hope to gain a greater understanding of what BIE refers to as the Gold Standard of PBL.
Integrating social network learning into my course curriculum has long been one of my teaching goals. We live in a digitally connected world and our students have grown up using Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other social networking sites. My question was always how to effectively harness the power of these sites in a way that was meaningful and beneficial educationally to my students.
Edtech 543 Social Network Learning allowed me to explore various social networking sites and applications and evaluate their usefulness in my classroom. I also evaluated digital citizenship and how interacting on social media affects both my professional and personal image. I now have a greater understanding of how communities of practice, connectivism, and personal learning networks act as a foundation for social networking in a relevant, positive way. Through my blog post on COPs, Connectivism, and PLNs, I gained the understanding that learning is no longer a solitary endeavor. Learning has become a social practice and communication and collaboration are the keystones of 21st century education.
Another component of this course involved participating in Twitter chats and live webinars. Because I engage in both of these activities fairly regularly, I felt comfortable “chatting” with my Twitter PLN. If nothing else, this module allowed me to reconnected with my professional colleagues on Twitter that I had lost touch with over the past few months. In addition, we were asked to form a PLN with two other members of the course and work on various projects together. Completing this assignment helped to expand my contacts and build my social network. In addition, creating a visual depiction of my PLN helped me to analyze how I connect with other people in my learning community.
My favorite assignment in this course required our PLN class group to develop a checklist of criteria to assess the quality of an education-related curated topic. The checklist was then used to individually curate a topic of our choice. Exploring various curation tools such as Storify, ScoopIt, and Pearltrees was invaluable. Each of these tools has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately I chose to use ScoopIt as my curation tool and student driven learning as my topic for this assignment. ScoopIt provided a simple way to curate content and include a short description of the value of the source. Not only did I learn about curating content, I expanded my understanding of student driven learning and began to seriously consider how I can intentionally integrate student curation into my classroom curriculum.
Finding educational projects that successfully use social media and then curating that content also proved highly beneficial. While finding 10-15 projects that successfully used social media in the science classroom proved to be a bit difficult, I did find two projects that I am hoping to use in my science classroom this year. #Organellewars and ‘Blogging about diseases’ were fantastic. I am hoping to get my entire science department involved in #organellewars this year when we teach about the cell. We were also asked to develop our own social media policy for our learning environment. Exploring other social media policies and then creating one for my classroom encouraged me to reflect on how and why I will use social media this year.
Our final assignment involved formulating a social networked mini-curricular unit with our course PLN. My group chose to build a Greek Mythology unit using Edmodo and Weebly as our main platforms. Students would also be required to use Twitter, Edublogs, Padlet, Diigo, and YouTube to complete the project. While my group worked extremely well together, I’m not sure that this is a unit I could reasonably use in the classroom. Introducing and requiring students to use so many different social networking sites for one unit does not seem practical. It was, however, interesting to apply the social networking strategies we had used throughout this course.
Overall, I found Edtech 543 to be a valuable course that allowed me to delve into the various uses, benefits, and guidelines of using social networking in my learning environment. In evaluating my blog post and participation and proposing a grade, I would give myself a 75/75. I feel that I met all of the criteria required for the course and wrote thoughtful, informative posts.
Below is my curated content on social media in the science classroom. While I found some fantastic examples of social media being used effectively, I was surprised at how difficult it was to find actual projects. Most sites simply listed ideas of the ways social media could be used but did not give specific examples of projects. I extended my search beyond science and looked at a few STEM projects. The projects I did find involved using Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Blogging sites to build a science lesson or unit.
#Organellewars and ‘Blogging about diseases’ were my two favorite projects. I am hoping to get my entire science department involved in #organellewars this year when we teach about the cell. Upon a recent check of Twitter #organellewars, I noticed the Tweets have continued all through this past spring. The blogging about diseases inspired me to think about how I can use a class blog as an instrumental part of my science curriculum. I believe writing should be a central part of all academics and blogging is a great tool for critical thinking and reflection. Both Skype and Facebook would be interesting ways to open up the classroom to other parts of the country and world. Unless I found a really fantastic example, I do not believe I would use Snapchat in my classroom. The few projects I located using Snapchat offered little educational merit. This project opened my eyes to some great opportunities to bring social media into the science curriculum.
I would love to hear from other educators in the comments below about how they use social media in their science lessons.
Social Media has become the major source of collaboration among our youth today. I believe it is a valuable tool to leverage in the classroom as well. Therefore, it becomes necessary for educators to ensure that students are safe and appropriate when engaging in social media activities. When considering creating a social media policy for my classroom, I first examined my school’s technology acceptable use policy (TAUP). What I found was very limited (see below), so I created a document I could give to my students on the first day of school to ensure that any use of social media pertaining to the classroom was appropriate and acceptable. Prior to engaging on any social media projects with my class, I would discuss the purpose of the project and get feedback from other teachers, staff, and community members. At our annual Back to School Night I would discuss with parents how and why social media was going to be used. Parents, school staff, and community members would all be invited to discuss and view our social media activities. I believe students would be on board with any social media projects as according to the infographic, “The Use of Social Media in School”, 96% of students with Internet access report using social networking technologies.
According to my schools’s parent/teacher handbook, “Access to any web log (blog), forum, or “social network” website of any kind, such as Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, etc. is prohibited unless it is an academic social network such as Edmodo and access is approved by the teacher and purposed for academic pursuits.” Due to the brevity of our TAUP in regards to social media, I created to following document:
While creating a visual depiction of my Personal Learning Environment (PLE), I gave a lot of thought to how I connect with other people in my learning community. The co workers at the school where I teach connect mainly through email (Microsoft Outlook). Most of our correspondence is related to the day to day operations of the school and not so much on my growth as an educator. Most of my professional development, I have completed independently of my work environment. I have attended a number of EdCamps where I have met and connected with many wonderful educators in my field. We have shared ideas and continued our learning journey together. I have also connected with many innovative and inspiring educators through Twitter. I would say this is my primary PLN connection.
I decided to use clouds to illustrate my PLE. Since so much of what we do today is “in the cloud”, I thought this was appropriate. I divided my clouds into the following areas: curate, connect, and share as these are the most active areas of my PLE. Curating content is something I have always enjoyed doing. A Content Curator is defined as “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online” (Gaasterland, 2011). In the past I have relied on YouTube, Diigo, and RSS feeds. Most recently I have been using ScoopIt to curate content. As mentioned above, Twitter is my go-to social media networking tool. I also connect professionally on Facebook and Google+. In order to share with others in my field, I rely on Google Drive, WordPress, and VoiceThread.
I enjoyed comparing my Personal Learning Environment with those of my colleagues in EdTech 543. Specifically I looked at the PLEs of Josh Haines, Kristin Castello, Kathleen Johnson, Michelle Hughes, Ariana Pyburn and Lindsay Hoyt. I noticed that we all centered our drawings around 3 or 4 main areas. Creating, collecting, communicating or collaborating, and sharing were the common threads in all of our PLEs. I especially liked how Kristin used a continuous circle for her PLE. I think this really speaks to how our PLEs are an intertwined community that flows together. Michelle centered her image around a Bitmoji with the word “genius” in order to demonstrate how we all benefit from one another’s collective knowledge and ideas. I also thought Kathleen’s use of the Connect 4 board was a fun way to illustrate her PLE. Ariana’s and Josh’s PLE diagrams focused on the four C’s but included a few tools I didn’t think of such as Digg. The fun nature of Ariana’s four Ninja Mutant Turtles shows how much fun we can have with our PLEs. Even though the content of this reflection is on the content of my classmates’ PLEs, I have to give notice to Lindsay’s fantastic illustration. Many of the tools we chose were the same, however Lindsay illustrated her PLE in such a creative way! She focused on her Michigan roots to demonstrate the connections in her PLE through a beautiful drawing of the Great Lakes. She named her Great Lakes Create, Communicate, Connect, Reflect, and Curate using the analogy of flowing water to show how her PLE is connected and flows together.
A few tools I did not think to include in my PLE diagram were Blogger, Google Hangouts, Moodle, and Flickr. I have tried Blogger in the past as a blogging platform but do not use it consistently. I have also used Flickr for images and Moodle for all of my grad school work. After seeing Google Hangouts on a couple of the PLEs, I wished I had added it to mine. I have used it numerous times in the past couple of years to “meet” and collaborate with others in the M.E.T. program at Boise State and really enjoy its features. In summary, even though each of our PLE drawings are unique, I think they show how connected through social networking we all are. Below is a Google Slides presentation of my classmates’ PLE diagrams.
Curating a ScoopIt Board on student-driven learning was probably one of my favorite assignments in the MET program so far! Our assignment required us to first create a checklist of 15+ criteria, “Based on your readings, develop a checklist of 15 to 20 criteria that will serve as a tool for assessing the quality and value of an education-related curated topic” with two other students in our class. After creating the checklist, we had to “Use a tool specific for curation (e.g, Scoopit, Educlipper, LessonPaths, PearlTrees), curate a topic of your choice, applicable to your content areas and/or grade level” and then use the criteria checklist to self-assess the value of my curated topic.
I chose to use ScoopIt as my curation tool. I looked at a variety of curation tools and felt ScoopIt offered a visually pleasing way to present my topic. Student-centered learning has been an area I have wanted to investigate further and integrate into my teaching pedagogy, so I felt it was a good fit for this assignment. After reading through and assessing articles and multi-media related to my topic, I created my ScoopIt board based on our group’s criteria:
- Seek Specific, Current Content: I made sure all of my content fit the specific category and chose articles written within the past 5 years.
- Select Content with an Evaluative Eye: I looked for content that
- Think Critically: The content I chose gives a comprehensive look at student-centered learning and allows the viewers to explore the topic in depth.
- Sort Content in a Meaningful Way and Arrange Collection in an Organized Manner: I arranged the content to flow from the ‘what’, to the ‘why’, to the ‘how’ of student-centered learning as I felt this was the most logical approach.
- Editorialize to Ensure Sources are Credible: The content is curated from reliable sources including educational journals and recognized experts in the field of education.
- Create a Meaningful Story Out of Your Content: The content creates a storyboard that is easy to follow.
- Share Content in an Accessible Way: ScoopIt is a content curation tool that allows direct connection and publication to social media sites.
- Invite Viewers to Join the Conversation: By posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ I hope to generate a good conversation about this topic.
I hope to continue developing my understanding of the importance and value of student-centered learning and make it the framework of my teaching pedagogy.
Shelley Wright is a teacher/education blogger living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Currently, she serves as the high school learning consultant for Prairi
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com
Teacher and blogger Shelley Wright gives a Ted Talk on the value of student-driven learning. She explains that “learning is constructed in community”.