My teacher to follow is Shelly Terrell. In the first post that I read from Feb 7, 2014, Ms Terrell shared 20+ Web tool and Apps that encourage learning by students through drawing and coloring. These tools are designed for students of various ages and teachers can choose the ones that will be appropriate for the age of the students that they are teaching. Ms. Terrell offered valuable resources that I know I will be happy to have in the future when I have my own classroom. I have subscribed to her newsletter and plan to follow her as long as she is blogging.
This post, from Feb 11, 2014, was about encouraging your students to commit random acts of kindness. Throughout the post Ms Terrell provided a vast number of technical links for creating and sharing kindness. These links included: an online Acts of Kindness advent calendar, Padlet or LinoIt for a sticky wall, Popplet for brainstorming ideas, Buncee, Smore, Biteslide, Glogster, or Blendspace for creating posters, Garage Band or Audacity for creating poscasts, and Storybird, Zooburst, Fotobabble, or Little Bird Tales for creating digital stories. I have used some of these tools before, but most were new to me. I am creating great new additions to my PLN from many of the tools that she has shared.
This post, from Feb 17, 2014, is about teaching with Instagram. Ms Terrell gives good instructions on how to set up an Instagram account for your class and to make it private so that only students, parents and yourself can see it. With Instagram you can post homework assignments, help students to visualize what they read, showoff a student’s work, share classroom memories and engage parents. A teacher can share with all the followers or one student directly. Students can even turn in picture or video assignments for you to see immediately. Ms Terrell shared many different creative projects for students to do with instagram and included links to many other resources and ideas for Instagram.
Instagram is very simple to use and many students are already using it. My question for Ms Terrell would be, what should do you do if a student does not have a smart phone that gives him/her the ability to participate in Instagram lessons. This social media tool is fantastic but students are limited by the availability of devices. I would like to know how she would handle this.
In this blog on March 02, 2014, Ms Terrell is participating in an ITDI webinar called “Sharing the Narratives of Our Lives: Meaningful Learning with Mobile Devices” which addresses the importance of using mobile devices to communicate with students. She asks, “why mobile devices”? The answer is simple; technology is evolving and nearly all students have a mobile device with them at all times allowing teachers to communicate with a lot of students very quickly. Many apps that students use on a daily basis have become mobile-based only. Teachers need to engage their students in the way that the students want to be engaged. Mobile devices bridge the gap between students and teachers by creating a learning environment similar to what students are already doing outside of school therefore enhancing learning and making it connected. Through apps such as Vine, Snapchat, Meme, Instagram and many more students continually feed themselves bite-sized bits of information. Ms Terrell shared a quote by John Holt which stated that “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners”. She suggests that we ask ourselves every day, “What did my students do in class today?” She states that students learn better by moving around and interacting with the world than they do by reading text books and we should not spend our time “teaching to the test”. By using mobile devices, we will be able to better connect and our students will be better learners because of it. Ms. Terrell has published a book called Learning to Go that is a great source for lesson plans for teachers who want to incorporate mobile devices into their teaching.
I think that using mobile devices will be a great way to connect with students but it comes with complications. There are so many apps available that the students use and they are evolving at a rapid rate. I have been able to witness this first hand by keeping up with my teenage daughter's social interactions. Just when I think I know what app she is using to communicate with, most often it changes to something different. Apps are trendy and many become very popular and then are short lived. I believe that a teacher need to stay “in the loop” with what the kids are doing but it will be very tedious to keep up with the trends and use them in our teaching practices. We will need to stick with time tested apps and then require that our students follow us on them if this is going to work. I love the idea of being able to send small bits of important information out to my students 24 hours a day and look forward to making this part of my lesson plans.