Monthly Archives: January 2014

My Case For Social Media and Technology Use In School

www.sxc.hu hand_on_keyboard

Today, yet again, I have heard people question if and why we should be using various pieces of technology and social media in school. It has been almost 40 years since personal computers were successfully marketed and sold to the general public. It has been over 20 years since the “world wide web” (www) was launched. It has been 10 years since the launch of Facebook and 7 years since the first iPhone was released. These things will continue to evolve in capabilities and how they are used – but they are not going away.

Besides the fact that we are supposed to be educating our children for tomorrow’s world, here are the reasons I can  think of off the top of my head as to why social media  is of importance in our schools (some of it relates to tech – but honestly, I think it’s a no-brainer as to why kids should be exposed to and using technology).

  • Given the numbers above…these things are not going away. Our children will be using them whether we like it or not. Just as we role model proper table manners, or how to cross a street, we need to do the same for using technology and social media. That requires us to learn about them and use them ourselves.
  • I don’t believe that any job that our children will hold in the future will be sans-tech or the need to work with others from around the world. (Again, we are educating for the future – so they should be exposed to technology and collaborating from the earliest of ages).
  • The above ties into a global mindset, that we are part of something larger and all that we can learn a great deal from others outside of our “bubble”. This is hard for a child to grasp if they have never been exposed to anything/anyone outside their bubble.
  • Empathy. Although we may speak a different language or wear different clothing, we are all human. Learning about how others live, what their struggles are as a culture and their customs, can help children be more empathetic to those different from them when trying to resolve issues later on.
  • We are so concerned about test scores and how much learning needs to happen in a school year. These things extend the learning to anytime, anywhere. Empowering them to continue learning about a topic outside of the classroom, solely because it is of interest to them is worth its weight in gold.
  • In addition to when learning occurs, it’s also how and from whom. I love that you can participate in a conversation on a blog, or tweet a statement or question to the world and receive responses from experts, authors, artists, and those who have been through or are currently going through the experience firsthand. How insanely powerful and exciting for a child (and adults) to get that opportunity that might not otherwise exist.
  • Relationship building with not only families – but the community. Sharing, through a blog post or social media, moments from the day of kids learning is nothing less than fabulous. For parents and the community to have a window into the classroom and to be able to see the positive things our children and schools are doing, builds confidence and support. It reduces the number of reasons one can question efforts and spending when seen firsthand, the product and results. In addition, families can hold richer conversations at home about what their children have been learning because they aren’t dependent upon their child to remember moments of the 6+ hours prior. Instead, parents can ask about a particular lesson/moment. From there they can also tie in what they are doing during their family time, with the lessons at school. I know I have chosen a particular museum exhibit and what we have done while on a walk at the park because of what my children’s teachers shared from the classroom.
  • Not only can immediate family members support the learning outside of the classroom – but putting it out there online enables family members near AND far to follow along and support the child’s learning.
  • It brings the “great” things to life. A teacher can tell you all they want on back to school night that they have some great lessons, projects and/or activities planned for the year. But the definition for great may vary for some. And something the teacher thinks is great, may be over the moon to say a parent that never experienced anything like that themselves growing up. Why would you shortchange your efforts? Let others see the opportunities you are giving these children.
  • It is a way for busy families to keep up with what is happening while on the go, without having to depend on if a paper makes it home, if they have the info from the paper with them while out and regardless of if they are physically able to visit the school..
  • It helps maintain a regular, open line of communication in between those face to face moments. Instead of speaking once every few months – it could be weekly. That can drastically change a relationship.
  • And the other question I heard….but how many people are actually following and using? I think that grows over time. Our newer parents use the social media to communicate far more than the ones who went through 5 years without it at first, I believe because they don’t know any different. But many of the other families are, if nothing else, using it a resource for information. The more you use it for good and for sharing valuable resources though, I think the more your community will begin to use it to interact with you. But if you never start, or only give it a few months, you will never have these opportunities. And although I think it benefits the adults; if we don’t expose our children to this world of technology and social media now, they will be the ones suffering the most down the road.

So as a parent, I beg of you not to short change our children or limit the opportunities to engage more families and the community. I understand you may be unfamiliar with it – but ignorance will benefit no one. I will do my part at home, I ask that you do yours at school.

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Tear Down These Walls…

Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan Bldg and Intl Trade Center in DC - G.Pescatore

I hate walls! They block your view and prevent you from hearing clearly what is being said on the other side. (These particular walls I am referring to also wake me up at 430 in the morning….which note, waking up at 430 a.m. is one big reason you will not see me have anymore children. I don’t sleep a lot, but when I am sleeping….I don’t appreciate being woken in the midst.)

So often we talk about issues arising from the” us versus them” mentality; be it one ethnic community versus another; PTO board-parents; parents-school; parent-teacher; school boards-educators or parents. So often, I see and hear the comment repeatedly come up in conversations (written and verbal) that, yes, we need to build relationships and respect one another. Relationships are the core foundation of what we need for success. Yet then people say, do and write things that not only keep walls in place, but at times, make them bigger.

If we truly want to break these walls down and realize this vision of working together without walls between us…

We need to humble ourselves.

We need to realize that no one individual is better than the next (I don’t care how educated you are/aren’t or how much money is/isn’t in your bank account or if you speak the English language or not).

You can be at the top…or the bottom of the ladder in the blink of an eye.

We need to not only talk about working together – but actually have actions to back that statement (and when you dig deep, if you don’t believe it, than you really need to find a role that you do truly believe in).

We need to remember that we all are 50% of the problem….but CAN and also NEED to be 50% of the solution.

A child is just that; a child. We need to be providing them with positive reinforcement…not tearing them down.

We need to greet others with an open heart and open mind.

We need to remember we all are human; breathing the same air, standing on the same ground.

Our words can have a lasting impact on those we speak to and of…good or bad.

We all need to remember…before we say or do something; listen to what you are saying from the shoes of someone on the other side of that statement (wall). How would that impact you and your actions going forward?

Just as we tell our children to be kind and think of others. We need to practice what we preach. Our actions DO speak louder than our words…but words also have the power to shape someone’s perception of reality (and perception is reality to them). If we can knock down these walls that divide and prevent us from working together, we might be pleasantly surprised at the potential of others and what we can all accomplish.


First Post of 2014

A wise dear friend tweeted this today, and I found it to be the perfect first post for 2014.

gwen

 

To a year of making mistakes, challenging limits, forging through comfort zones, learning so so much and changing the world!

Thank you partner — You always inspire! XoXo


A New Year’s Resolution After All

goalLast night on #arkedchat, the topic was “New Year’s Resolutions in Education”. When Daisy (@DaisyDyerDuerr) asked the question about what resolutions students were making…I responded with the same response I have to all who ask about resolutions….I don’t like them. I prefer goals. For me a resolution is something you only set on January 1st and you either succeed or don’t at reaching them over the course of that year. Goals I can set on any given day I realize I want to change something and can have misses along the way while still striving for the end result.

resolutionsToday though, I am setting a resolution (yes, I know I missed January 1st) after reading about not just one –but two fabulous ideas in blog posts in one day and adding them to the long list of ideas I’ve collected this year that I think are great. My resolution? To make as many of these fab ideas I have come across, realities for my children and our school, as possible because they are not so fab just sitting there as words…and nothing annoys me more than lots of talk with no action. So this is more than a goal…it isn’t just a desired result, it is a firm decision to put action to my words.

Happy New Year!


SheilaSpeaking

A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education -- and the odd other thing...

Ingvi Hrannar

Icelandic educator, iPad 1:1 classroom, speaker & entrepreneur.

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013

Sharing our inquiries - March 23-30

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