Reading Review Blog Post #2

My first task in beginning Part B of the Reading Review assignment was to attempt to narrow down my keywords and interest in order to make the search more daunting.  One of my primary interests is exploring ways to strengthen the connection between home and school.  My reasons for this are twofold:  Firstly, as a parent I appreciate the desire for parents to know more about what is happening in their child’s classroom and find out what takes place over the course of their child’s day.  Secondly, coming from the background of a music prep teacher I definitely find this is one place in the school where there is often a large disconnect between school and home.  One of the things I love most about teaching is building relationships with students, parents, and the larger school community, and I really see the potential benefits of strengthening these connections.  Therefore, I have decided to further explore using social media in the classroom, both as a way to build a stronger connection between students’ home and school lives, and also as a way of building connections and relationships with students in other schools and other places around the world.  In some of my initial research I have also found that this topic pairs with my concerns about the amount of screen time students receive, as these concerns have been highlighted in some of the videos and articles I have found.

Some resources I have found interesting or helpful this week are as follows:

Using Social Media in the classroom

I found this video exciting and inspiring as this is a teacher using social media with very young students.  I see some real possibilities here for exploring ways of using blogs and Twitter both as digital portfolios and as a way to interact with students in other classrooms around the globe.  The teacher interviewed in this video shares her opinions on why using technology in the classroom is important, and I loved her stories of how it enhanced both her teaching and her students’ learning experiences.  She talks about using social media as a tool to broaden students’ worldview and teach empathy, which really resonated with me.

Social Media in the Classroom – Using ELGG (Kelset Elementary)
This video was an excellent example of a teacher who is having success using a social media platform in an elementary  classroom.  I did find it somewhat ironic that I was researching ways to use social media to connect with others around the world when I found a video from a school in the Saanich district so close to home!  I had not heard of ELGG before watching this video, but see that it would provide interesting opportunities for teaching writing and technology skills while demonstrating how to use social media in a safe environment.  I enjoyed hearing how the system is closed so that only students from the class can see posts.  This would be an easy way for upper elementary students to be able to try out social media in a protected platform.  I also really enjoyed hearing from the students themselves.  You can tell they enjoy using ELGG and take pride in the work they have created.

Social Media: Making Connections Through Twitter (Edutopia)
Twitter is a platform I hadn’t really thought of using in the classroom before, however I now see the possibilities after watching this video.  This video showcases a school district which is integrating social media use into many of its classrooms.  The superintendent and several teachers are interviewed.  The sharing and collaboration which appears to be happening here is phenomenal.  Teachers are using social media platforms to share ideas, one of which is taken worldwide and students in classrooms in several different places participate in a challenge together.  Two of the classes competing in the challenge also communicate through video chat which was another possibility I found interesting.  Overall I found the ways in which social media seem to be shaping education in this particular district to be very exciting.

Common Sense Education
This is a website I found through a Google search.  Common Sense Media is a website that I have used as a parent which reviews different forms of media for age appropriateness, parental concerns, discussion points, etc.  I did not know that they also had an education site, but when I found it I knew I had stumbled upon a goldmine.  The site contains reviews of apps, games, and websites, as well as guidelines for best practices for teaching with technology written by teachers.   The site aims to help teach digital citizenship and digital literacy skills.  Common Sense describes themselves as “the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to empowering kids to thrive in a world of media and technology”.   This site seems like a fantastic resource not only for finding out about different forms of technology, but also their usefulness, appropriateness, and educational relevance.

My Learning Journey with FreshGrade
This blog describe one teacher’s experience using FreshGrade in the classroom.  FreshGrade is an app that I am very interested in learning more about as many teachers in my district are beginning to use it.  I found this blog relevant as the teacher writing it also teaches Kindergarten.  The sharing capabilities of FreshGrade she describes appeal tremendously to me as I see a possibility of adding technology to enhance my program without increasing the amount of screen time my students are receiving.  Being able to instantly share video and photos of students and their work would be an excellent way to strengthen relationships with parents.  I am also excited by the possibilities for students and parents to both provide and receive feedback quickly.

While I did search the UBC library databases, I didn’t end up including any of the more academic resources I found in this blog post.  My justification for this is that for my particular needs and interests I found it more relevant and inspiring to read and hear about suggestions and best practices directly from teachers who are already using these technologies in their classrooms.

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3 thoughts on “Reading Review Blog Post #2

  1. A good post that outlines many interesting resources for you to help adopt and implement these new tools and practices. We live in a time where the practitioners in our schools are easily sharing their experiences and workflows, while academia is lagging a bit in publishing useful articles and guides. You had many useful videos, websites and social media connections which ties into your topic so well. There usually is a rationale however for including the more traditional theory and academic papers as justification for implementation with parents, other staff, and district admin, so there are reasons for including some academic perspectives.

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  2. Do you have suggestions as to how I may be able to broaden my search for academic articles? One of the main challenges I came across was having difficultly finding academic resources that were not outdated and were relevant to elementary education as opposed to high school or post secondary education. Thanks for your insight!

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    1. Definitely! Using UBC Library to search specific journals and databases can be a little overwhelming, but limiting your search to only find articles within the last 5 years is a great start. I also, really prefer using Google Scholar ( https://scholar.google.ca/ ) to do my searching and then when I’ve found something really interesting I search for the full text on UBC Library site. By limiting to only one journal/database, having very specific keywords, and then limiting by date, can ensure you find only the most recent, relevant articles. Hope that helps.

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