This second featured post in A Series of Classroom Connections comes to us from the middle school life skills classroom of Taylor Barczyk at Brownell Middle School.
When tapping into the life of a middle school students, it is apparent that they are constantly on their mobile devices. Parents, teachers, and others regularly wonder, “what are they doing?” They are interacting with one another through a variety of social media apps. So why not leverage these for learning?
By using the apps that students know and love in class, students have the opportunity to document and share their learning on social media. Our class has a strong social media presence, which allows students to take pride in their work and publicize what they are learning to their friends and classmates.
I made sure to communicate to the parents and students about our classroom expectations in the beginning of the year and created a sign-out contract for technology and social media use in class. Here are some ways that we used social media in our Life Skills class:
Students are regularly looking at images of themselves and others on Instagram. We decided this would be an excellent platform to use to document our content area and share our class with the school. We created an Instagram account @BMSLIFESKILLS and began to share techniques and information from our course with our followers. This quickly became a merger of social media fused with content area. Students, who I did not even have in class, could suddenly learn how to properly wash a dish or cut! More importantly, students are talking with other students about what we have learned in class. This is an excellent means of communication for both the students in class and students who are not in the class. Students are highly motivated and excited about their work when it is featured on our Instagram page.
PicStitch is a free application that allows you to combine multiple pictures in a collage format and then post the collage to your Instagram. What we have done, is pick the BEST creations from our classes and posted them into Instagram. This has become a point of pride for our students. It has also elevated the level of effort and participation that the students put into creating and designing project for our courses.
Snapguide has been used in our course as a means for incorporating Common Core State Standards. The scientific procedural model requires that ‘students are able to model, dissect, and demonstrate the procedures needed in order to conduct a lab experiment.’ In our course, this lends itself to any type of curriculum where there is a procedure and modeling must be done. We have used the shared class Snapguide account to stream our guides on our own devices. This creates a shared learning experience and high expectations as the public can view our finished projects. The finished guides can be used by anyone to learn how to do something that our students have made or taught through the guides. Best of all, the guides can be shared over other social media channels to promote students’ work.
Using Gmail to Fuel Common Application Use and Bring Your Own Device
One way to easily fuse technology into your classroom is to create a classroom Gmail account. Our classroom email account handle on Gmail is bmslifeskills. Through this account, we have been able to sign up for websites and applications, such as YouTube that collect basic user information, e.g. name or email address, together in one hub.
As a teacher, this is a successful way to have students email you and share apps like Snapguide. When you have a collective sign in account on an app, you can stream content from that app to multiple devices at the same time, by logging those devices into the shared account; or, you can collect information from multiple students in one place all at the same time with a shared account–LESS WORK!
Also, the students can access the bmslifeskills email on the class iPad. One important component with this is discussing the importance of technology and creating citizens of technology in your classroom. These citizens should have no question about the expectations for their devices and the means for appropriate use and time.
One example of quickly sharing a work product among many student devices in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom, is with video creation. This is an example video that was created using our shared class Gmail account to sign up for YouTube and publish from the class iPad using iMovie.
Note: Only students who had permission to be included in photos/videos were; otherwise, we were putting social media to work for us in documenting our learning in class!
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