Friday, May 18, 2012

My Day in Four Words

I discussed in a previous post the importance of using simple, throwback instructional tools in your classroom. Because why fix something that isn’t broken? And there is a reason certain teaching tools and strategies outlive others. So while I proudly stand by my philosophy that our classrooms need a little old school simplicity, I can’t deny that there are two sides to every story.   

So allow me to flip my imaginary coin and write my own rebuttal to Step Away From the Technology.

Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in my experience teaching, it’s this:  

Don’t ever get stuck in your ways

Technology is rapidly advancing the way we live and communicate, meaning the education system and our students are inevitably changing right along with it. We have no choice but to immerse ourselves in the up and coming happenings of the 21st Century and use them in our classrooms to keep our kids, and ourselves, up to speed.  

So let’s get with it!

Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Social media is everywhere, and middle schoolers are incessantly exposed to these social media platforms if not already using them. On one hand, social media is making it easier for our kids to communicate and network, is helping them to become Internet/typing/computer savvy, and is putting endless content at their fingertips. But on the other hand, social media can fuel drama and cyber bullying that can seep into your classroom and negatively impact instruction time.

So for those of you who still may be, “Social Media Classroom Apprehensive,” here’s an activity that will allow you to skim the surface of at least Facebook and Twitter with your students.

I call it: My Day in Four Words

For this activity, students are instructed to come up with a short phrase that describes their day or how they are feeling. The catch is that this description can only be four words long. After brainstorming ideas and choosing their final phrase, students are given a sentence strip for their final copy to write on and decorate. The sentence strips are then displayed on the wall.

So where do Twitter and Facebook come into play? Here is where you get to decide which features below you choose to incorporate and discuss alongside this activity.

·      These four word phrases simulate Facebook status updates. And the literal wall of your classroom displaying the sentence strips becomes the Classroom Facebook Wall.
·      If students do this activity multiple times, and save their sentence strips, they can even change their statuses as often as you allow them to.
·      Take your Classroom Facebook Wall a step further and have students draw profile pictures to put alongside their statuses, or print out real photos.
·      When you assign this activity, be sure to remind students that their four word phrases must be appropriate and positive to keep your Healthy Classroom Environment alive. This then gives you an opportunity to discuss the importance of posting appropriate statuses and content into the real Facebook community.

·      Usernames on Twitter all follow the format of the @ symbol followed by the person’s real or created name. Students can create their own Twitter @ names to place in front of their four word phrases.
·      In real Twitter, when you want to refer to another user in your Tweet, (or your status update), you simply incorporate the person’s @username into your Tweet. As students read the phrases of their classmates, they can @ one another to respond and start a conversation on the wall.
·      The “hashtag,” or (# symbol), is also a feature of Twitter, and is used in Tweets to mark key words or to categorize topics so that discussions can be easily found. So for example, if students are assigned to create a four word phrase about the math state test, a hashtag such as, #isurvivedstatetesting could be written at the end of the phrases to assign them with a topic. Students can decide on a class hashtag together or create their own.
·      If you’re an active “Tweeter,” you know that your Tweets can be no longer than 140 characters. Although assigning students to write a four word phrase is different, the idea of summing up your message to a concise and clear statement is the same. It’s much harder to say something in a few words than it is in a paragraph, and this is a good way for kids to practice this skill!

*Another positive to this activity? It can be used as a great time filler on a day that you need a quick activity that is still engaging, fun, and allows students to be creative and interactive!

Eager to take a bigger leap into incorporating social media in your classroom? Click here!

1 comment:

  1. This is my first time to your blog and I just love this post. I saw a facebook wall photo on pinteret and have been throwing around ideas how to use it in math. Technology is all around us and it is important the students not only see it as a fun activity but also as a learning tool. Thanks for sharing!
    Have a Great Week,