Are these Social Media tricks for education? You won’t believe #3


Okay, I went a little “meta” with that headline, but bear with me.

Today I received a notice that my 6 month subscription to Weebly will expire for www.smse2015.com unless I renew. I’m left to wonder how I thought 6 months would be sufficient time to attain 100 participants. As of this blog post, I now have 6 participants, which equates to one participant a month. The problem is that my survey requires a minimum of 100 participants.

Why the trickle of participants? Being a teacher, it’s my nature to reflect why:

  1. Not reaching intended audience. It’s a worldwide survey. The only requirements are: 1) be a public school teacher from K-12, and 2) use some form of social media for classroom purposes.
  1. Nobody’s on the clock right now. The summer months are holiday time for most teachers, yet from what I can infer from my Twitter feed is that teachers never really stop PD during July and August.
  1. The generally accepted definition of Social Media. What I gathered from my literature review, is that social media is loosely defined as online interaction. I interpret this as communication, back and forth, between individuals, using some sort of interface, that could include (but not limited to) any number of online platforms. Here’s a few off the tip of my browser:
  • Twitter
  • Edmodo
  • Moodle
  • Pinterest
  • Hootsuite
  • Instagram
  • Yelp
  • Urban Spoon
  • Digg
  • Quora
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Stumbleupon
  • Flipboard
  • RSS Feeds
  • Goodreads
  • Etsy
  • Youtube
  • Tumblr
  • DeviantArt
  • Skype
  • Instructables
  • Pearltrees
  • Periscope
  • Socrative
  • Google Education
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Facebook

See what I did there? I listed Facebook last. Last. This is because I wonder if my request for use of online social media in the classroom leaves respondents immediately thinking, “Ah heck no…I don’t use Facebook in class because (insert excuse here)”.

Social Media use in the classroom is a diverse area to explore. Yet I can’t examine it in a pedagogical sense unless I hear from more colleagues. Like a former teacher once taught me, people helping each other starts with the simple act of “give”. So please, if you ‘re a public school teacher teaching any grade level and using social media, please give 10 minutes of your time and fill out the survey.

In the meantime, I will: renew www.smse2015.weebly.com for 2015-2016; I’ll keep on being positive and hope that the new school year will bring at least 8 participants a month; and I’ll do my best to not self-deprecate by equating my requests with that of a squeegee kid at a stoplight.

253037950_63e82a5699_oImage labelled for non-commercial re-use by google: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/92/253037950_63e82a5699_o.jpg

All-Stars

This past week-end I attended a highly informative information session. Attending the session was part of my responsibility as a member of the Teacher Action Cohorts for The Manitoba Teachers’ Society. The topic of the session was how schools can strive to be more inclusive for members of the LGBTQ community.

In my past, I have had friends or, friends of friends, who identified as part of these groups and I considered myself informed. I was wrong, there is so much more to be aware of and the terminology provided at this session was helpful (I can now correctly identify myself as a heterosexual cisgender male).

However, there was one exercise in which paper stars were handed out to the group. In the middle of the star each participant was required to write down the name they wish to be addressed by, and on each of the five points:

  1. their best friend whom they confide in with everything,
  2. trusted family member,
  3. community they feel they belong to,
  4. career that they want, and
  5. their deepest desire or wish.

Each participant had a different colour star, and was asked to pretend and silently “identify” as a member of the LGBTQ community. When the individual pretended to “come out”, the following happened:

  • Blue star, every point on the star was kept and this meant accepted by friends, family, community, career, and free to pursue dreams;
  • Orange or yellow star, some points were folded over and this meant that family friends, etc may be angry or upset, but have the potential to accept;
  • Red star, all points were ripped off, and silently dropped to the ground. At the finish, the name itself was ripped up.

This final act was powerful enough to have some participants empathize with visible emotion. Understandable, considering the silence requested during the act to assist contemplative reflection. The misanthrope in me blamed society. The pessimist in me counted all the pieces on the floor. The educator in me lamented for the loss of child’s identity. Finally, the realist in me saw the opportunity for a new beginning.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the fact I gave up my former career path to become a teacher. Maybe it’s because I choose to leave family and friends behind to pursue a career in another city. I certainly didn’t have the blue star in my own life, but my choices were made as an adult—if someone told me my lifestyle was wrong, I knew enough that they were the a**holes for judging (spend 20 min in an online debate with a postmodern writer, if you want to experience supercilious judgement—yeesh).

Or maybe it’s simply because I’m slowly shaking off archaic heteronormative views, and hoping today’s LGBTQ students know that everybody on this earth are a lot more alike than dissimilar. After all, every student has the fundamental right to a safe education within public schools.

photo

Any Change is as Good as a Holiday

I was offline for the end of the school year, and the beginning of the summer (professionally, at least—you won that one FB). Overall, I found the simple kinaesthetic acts to be largely rewarding. Painting, taping, constructing, mechanical work, and the like resulted in immediate reward. Visible results of effort.

Alas, it is August, and judging by the many consumer reminders of “back to school” specials, I should quit procrastinating, and start to create/tweak my courses for the new year. While doing so, I will begin to post any discoveries along the way.

Stay tuned.

Measured Thoughts, Shared

It’s no secret that I’ve previously worked for The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) as a member of their support staff. As such, I am well informed of what they do, but I never really appreciated why they do until I actually became a teacher.

I spent time at another MTS Teacher Action Cohorts (TAC) meeting last Saturday, March 9. TAC are a group that talk with teachers regarding issues of educational interest. Issues that are currently explored, can be found on the mbteach.org website. TAC participants were introduced to additional skill-sets, provided by the experience and knowledge of Ms. Debra Radi. I truly appreciated the quality of information presented, regarding facilitation and leading groups of professional adults.

At our TAC meeting, it was noted how MTS is much more than collective bargaining and legal advice for its 13,400 Manitoban teachers. On the ride home, I was able to reflect on the session, and realized I am proud to be a part of one of the many pro-active aspects of MTS. I have to acknowledge the experienced shared by members of the TAC group, who are each from varied schools, levels, divisions, educational roles, and career spans. This is where I find the bulk of wealth in TAC meetings, where the experiences are shared, measured, and employed again. MTS is much more than a static “due on a paycheque” for the average professional to take note of. MTS is active, and educators benefit. I also wondered on the same ride home, in the context of the strife other provincial teacher organizations are experiencing, how many Manitoban teachers truly understand why they should be more involved in their local associations?

In my studies to attain teacher certification, it was once stated, “To be a better teacher, become a better person”. If I am truly becoming a better person, then I can’t think of a better group of teachers to learn from than my fellow cohorts.

Being well, well said

BSD held it’s division wide “Wellness Day” yesterday. Employees were required to attend a morning seminar that discussed two topics, “Harassment in the Workplace, and Professional Online Awareness” (not sure if those were the exact titles, but I’m summarizing the content provided). Employees were also required to sign up for a Wellness activity of choice in the afternoon.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly approve of the efforts that The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) provides for it’s members. Having read about The unions in Ontario or B.C., I love being a teacher in Manitoba. I know our union always has it’s members’ interests at the forefront, and MTS diligently fosters a productive relationship with the Manitoba Government to achieve this.

Having said that, I don’t wish for my following comments to be perceived as trivial or petty. In my career as a teacher, I’ve walked paths in both subject areas of the seminar’s discussion, so I watched the presentation from more of an analytical viewpoint. Two pieces of constructive criticism for the obviously well-constructed, information-rich morning sessions are:

  1. individuals in Canada can not “file charges” against other individuals. Under Canadian law, individuals can only file a complaint, and then the responsibility lies with the law enforcement agency to file charges,
  2. I truly believe that educators who aren’t familiar with the digital aspects of Web 2.0 need to be encouraged not only to be aware, but also encouraged to be involved** in responsible use of Web 2.0.

In the afternoon, I simply chose the Art Session at a local high school, and worked on a project of choice. So I put my grading responsibilities aside, set my University homework aside, and placed my pencil in front of a canvas and started drawing.

It was a perfect choice, well made.

**update: I would be remiss If I didn’t mention MTS’s efforts to encourage members of CoSL to adopt Twitter usage

30: Brain Tricks

Absolutely wonderful video on why attention can be/is diverted. I’ll remember to be a little more patient whenever I have to repeat myself explaining concepts to classes…and I’ll quit doing card tricks during the explanations.

Comics in education

I love it when my profession and hobby collides. Comicsbeat.com is a comic news website edited by Heidi MacDonald. This link provides a few facts on how reading comics assist teenage male literacy.

Heck, I could’ve told you that, but it’s nicer when supported by fact.