Category Archives: Twitter

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

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The Early Bird DOES in fact, get the worm

For years and years I thought I was a night owl.  I loved to stay up and out late, either having fun or working on projects.  More recently I discovered that I am not a night owl, but in fact a morning person.  Even though I was up late, I wasn’t being productive on my projects.  I was working on them well into the evening due to my procrastination.  I began to get up early to complete my projects and felt significantly more ambitions, focused and productive.

Last week I saw this article and tweeted it to share with my fellow #tfwf14 classmates:

My first reponse:  Does Hazma Kahn know me?  Is he watching me?  This is my life!

Kahn’s article “Don’t Waste Your Two Golden Hours of Productivity” him home for me.   I fall into the category that Kahn gives data on, that “80 percent of 18- to 44-year-olds who check their smartphones” as soon as they get up.  My smartphone has replaced my alarm clock, so it is the first thing I touch in the morning.apple-iphone-5-white-all-sides

First I check Facebook, followed by Instagram, then Twitter and finally email.  All before my feet have hit the floor and I have to agree with Kahn that we need to avoid this habit.  He states that “the problem with jumping right into our inboxes and notifications is that it steers your morning off-course”.  I get very distracted and behind in my morning routine when I pick up my phone.  So I decided to give it a try, to leave my phone on the night stand when I got out of bed.

I spent the 90 minutes of my morning feeling as though I was missing something, but I was more focused on the tasks that needed to be completed and able to successfully complete them all.  I found my morning flowing along smoothly without having to rush because I was behind on the time.  I could get used to this!

Now, I wish I could say that I was able to keep this routine and I’ve been tremendously successful in being on time and maintaining my easy-flowing mornings.  If I did, I’d be lying.  What I have done, is limited my time on my phone in the morning.  I check social media and then put the phone down.  Emails are put off until I arrive at work.  I couldn’t quit cold turkey, I’m not a quitter.

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So from now on, if I don’t like what I see, I’ll just go back to bed!

How Important is a Creative Culture?

My fellow blogger Adam Goscinski tweeted a blog entry titled “It’s a creative culture that counts – time schools and teachers created such a learning culture” from the blog Leading and Learning.

This blog brings up an excellent point regarding the curriculum taught in schools in relation to the standardized testing that is now required of children.  “Developing diverse gifts and talents of many students is lost in such procedures and is not helped by the inevitable narrowing of the curriculum by teaching to the standards” according to the blog.  Not only are teachers forced to teach to the test, most times that results in their need to exclude subjects such as art and music, where children are most prone to show their creative side.  However, creativity is not just for the arts, creativity is relevant to any and all subjects when children are able to express themselves.

The blog goes on to state that “it is a creative culture, not obsessive testing and formulaic teaching that is the answer – culture counts”.  Bruce, the author of this blog even includes the lyrics to the popular Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall, “teacher leave that kid alone – we don’t need your mind control”.   Is it really the teachers who are controlling the kids, or are they merely acting on direction from the government?  (I’ll save that argument for another time, another blog post.)

Painted child hands By creating a creative culture, teachers and students alike are able face learning in a way that works best for them, not the general population.  Teachers need the freedom to teach their students the way they are able to learn.  Students need to be able to express their interests and pursue subjects creatively, and not just the subjects that are required for testing.  Both of these ideas will foster a creative learning environment where both students and teachers benefit.

Once we create this culture, a new attitude toward learning will be formed.  The lack of pressure applied to students will allow them to relax and engage in the learning environment rather than feeling rushed to get through massive amounts of material in a short period of time.  Teachers will not feel as though they have been through the wringer at the end of the year from running the marathon of instruction prior to test season.  Call me crazy, but if teachers are happy and students are happy, won’t great things come of it?

Spin Me A Story

Our power point is here: final project (3)

ADAM G:

Our application Spin Me a Story was developed as an inspirational asset to all levels of writing. Porter explains that, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195).

Children today are evidently using technology earlier than any other generation. This produces an optimal advantage for educators. “The internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Spin Me a Story was created to use a technology that children are familiar with, as well as, produce a new and exciting way to introduce writing.

Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Therefore, when used efficiently, new technologies are beneficial resources. Our application was designed to improve the writing process. Offering the users inspiration, creativity, composition, and fluency.

When an account is created in Spin Me a Story, the user is welcomed into a new writing community. Our application portrays Porter’s ideology of delivery, by making all finished stories available and accessible to each user. “Students’ writing will be published writing, and it will be produced in genres and by processes that depart radically from the traditional ways writing has been practiced and taught.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195).

Account customization is essential to the individuality of the user. The “Favorite” questionnaire is implemented to influence the categories, genres, formats, and other users, the applicant is connected with. Spin Me a Story is a new literary technology, constructed as an educational resources, to increase the users’ interest and enthusiasm in writing.

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KYLIE T:

Bolter said that some educators imagine a classroom in which books are replaced by virtual environments. Spin Me a Story has the capability to create student and teacher accounts. Having the option to create two different types of accounts will allow the user to personalize their creative writing experience. After creating a username and password, as Adam previously showed, a page will pop up asking what type of account you want to create.

On this page, there will be two options to choose from; “I am a student” or “I am a teacher.” If the user  clicks the button “I am a student,” they will then be taken to a page where they can select their age, grade, and if this is for a school project, a class meeting, or for a fun creative writing experience. The app will provide developmentally appropriate words to the student depending on the age and grade they select.

If the user clicks “I am a teacher,” they will be directed to a page that asks them if they want to create a class code. The teacher will have the ability to leave comments on the student’s drafts, give suggestions, or only allow the students with a class code spin a certain genre.

After the type of account is selected, the user will be directed to a page where they have the option to sync their work to social media. As Porter and DeVoss state, the act of writing is fundamentally collaborative and social. The user will be able to ‘share’ their spins and final work via these social media sites to show their peers and parents/guardians what they are writing and drawing about.

From here, a page will pop up asking the user to select the type of story they plan to write about. There is always the option to pick a new style. The available styles include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, a memoir, letter, blog post, newsletter, and songwriting. Like Bolter said, digital technology changes the look and feel of writing, and Spin Me a Story does just this (pg. 24).

 

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ASHLEY M:

 

Bolter discusses the use of technology in education, and the role of computers in the writing process. Using this app, students are using the computer directly to produce a creative writing piece that can be accessed from anyplace at anytime. From here, students will be asked to choose a theme for their story. Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, and Sci-Fi are just some of the options available.

Once a genre catches the student’s attention, they are free to click their favorite, and begin spinning and choosing words that will be incorporated into their creative story. A picture representing the chosen genre will pop up, making sure students chose the correct theme. Once chosen, students will click “begin” to spin for story words.

Now the fun part begins! Students will press the slot machine “SPIN” button to spin all four word and phrase categories. Each category focuses on a different subject, action, description, and so on. A full sentence is created when the categories are read from left to right. Here we have, “Write an email to a tricky princess who can fly.”

If the student doesn’t like a word or phrase they have been given, they can choose to spin again in one or more categories. Instead of writing about a tricky princess, they might spin to write about a tricky frog. They have unlimited spins until they finally land on something they like. This student spun to write a report about a silly frog who can skate.

A screen will appear encouraging the student. Porter and DeVoss say, “Writing is hypertext and the delivery of multimedia content via the Internet and the Web.” By choosing themes that might interest other friends, the student’s stories can be easily shared over the Web. Gee asks if video games are a waste of time. While this isn’t a video game, it is a game, and it’s valuable in writing creatively.

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SAMANTHA C

Prior to beginning the writing of the story, the student is given the option to have a bonus word or a picture prompt to help them further their story.  At this point they are able to rate the creativity level of the words obtained from the spin.  If they aren’t sure about the choices they have been given, they can check to see if they represent an appropriate creativity level based on their age and grade they entered earlier in the app. They can skip this page if they choose not to use these options.

The student then has the option to continue with their prompt, or spin again to start over with a whole new set of prompts. This is beneficial when the student receives a set of prompts that are familiar to a story that they already know.  This choice reduces the possibility of plagiarism should the student copy that story and attempt to use it as their own.  DeVoss and Porter express this idea in their statement that “we must renegotiate our personal and institutional approaches to plagiarism”.

Several different writing formats are available as Kylie previously mentioned.  When the student chooses to continue with their prompts, they will advance to this screen.  They simply click on the format they want and are taken to a template to begin writing their chosen piece.  This is an example of what Bolter referred to when he said “digital technology changes the ‘look and feel’ of writing and reading”.  Pre-populated templates eliminate the need for design and construction of blogs, newsletters, etc.

Here is one example of the formats available, the newsletter template.  To enter text or upload a photo, the student simply clicks on the appropriate box.  Each of these, as well as the other templates provide the criteria that Tim O’Reilly outlines in regard to Web 2.0.  He stated that “only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application”.  Therefore, by creating templates with pre-populated fields, users can input information without having to re-create the wheel.

This is another example of available formats, the blog template.  Here, students are able to input not only text, but photos as well, similar to the newsletter template.  This example also follows O’Reilly’s criteria in regard to the values of user input.  In order to be competitive in the app market, users should be able to “add their own data to that which you provide”.  With these templates, students can input any and all data they chose in various formats.

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SAM R

The idea of remediation, introduced by Bolter in an article called “Writing in the late age of print”, is when a new technology replaces an old one. Our app transformed the classic format of notebook writing into an organized, user-friendly template. When a user selects this template, their ideas can be saved to wherever they want. Papers easily become messy and lost, an app will stay in your pocket wherever you go.

The “Draw me a Story” snapshot demonstrates an extremely unique function of our app. A user can draw a picture on the screen Microsoft Paint style or they can upload their own picture from their camera roll. Our picture feature promotes creativity and allows users to act on inspiration as it occurs. Images users form while writing will never disappear again. 

When organizing the gallery, users are able to categorize their works into different folders. It is an easy way for users to separate different ideas or genres from the other. There is even an option of allowing works to remain uncategorized, which lets the user have more creative control. The user can alter the names and the amount of the categories as well. 

Combining texts with images have been extremely popular amongst our culture. In an article called “Becoming Screen Literate” by Kevin Kelly, the author writes about how images are becoming extremely well liked by users. Our app allows users to keep texts separate from pictures, combine pictures with texts, or to just paint a picture. It is a functional way to express creativity.

In an article by DeVoss and Porter’s article titled, “Why Napster matters to writing” the authors explain the importance of balance between recognition and ethics. When a user shares a piece of work from the Gallery to social media, our app gives credit where credit is due. Also, during this sharing process, other members of social media are able to experience new works and technology. Our app has found the balance by rewarding both the author and the audience.

Technologies’ Influence on Education

One of our blog co-administrators, Samantha Regina (@samantharegina8), tweeted an article from The New York Times, “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say,” by Matt Richtel. 

In this article, the information presented for new technologies influence on students, was obtained through a teacher survey. Richtel explained that, “the researchers note that their findings represent the subjective views of teachers and should not be seen as definitive proof.” (page 1). However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, states that the “teacher’s views were subjected but nevertheless could be accurate in sensing dwindling attention spans among students.” (Richtel, page 4).

In Turkle’s article, “Who Am We?” an excerpt from her book, “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” she explains “ how computers are not just changing our lives but changing ourselves.” (page 3). According to Vicky Rideout’s research, discussed in Richtel’s article, “media use among children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school.” (page 1). New technologies have an influence on students’ academic careers, as well as, their lives outside of the classroom. The teacher’s that were surveyed said that, “technology was as much as a solution as a problem.” (Richtel, page 3).Therefor, efficient implementations and conscious adaptions are essential to the technologies’ educational resources, and the students academic success. This is a clarion call for a healthy and balanced media diet,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. (Richtel, page 3).

“The internet links million of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Technologies within a classroom can become a positive asset, or a negative interference. The associate director for Pew Surveys, Kristen Purcell said, “that the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn.” (Richtel, page 2). Dave Mendell, a forth grade teacher, supports Purcell’s ideology of adapting teaching processes to accommodate the way students learn. “Educational video games and digital presentations were excellent ways to engage students on their terms.” (page 3). Other teachers that participated in the survey explained that “they were using more dynamic and flexible teaching styles.” (Richtel, page 3). In an educational setting, an accommodating teaching style is nothing new. The evidence is expressed in the introduction of ESL (English is a Second Language) programs, to understanding the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Is there a difference between involving the three different learning styles and introducing the beneficial use of new technologies in an academic lesson? Or is the evolution of educational technologies progressing; producing new obstacles, outdating older technologies, under constant revision, and in a state of acceptance or rejection?

When Turkle discussed computers as a technology, she said “allow us to cycle through cyberspace and real life, over and over. Windows allow us to be in several contexts at the same time.” (page 3). This introduces the main controversial aspect involving the computers influence on it’s users, and therefor the computer’s influence on students. The acceptance argument is “that the Internet and search engines had a mostly positive impact on student research skills, (…), such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.” (Richtel, page 2). Whereas the rejection argument is “that digital technologies were creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” (Richtel, page 2). “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” (Turkle, page 3). However an agreement can be made by both sides, students are easily distracted, which makes it difficult for teachers to captivate their attention, conscious effort, and constant engagement.(Richtel, pages 1-3). Dr. Christakis said “students saturated by entertainment media, were experiencing a supernatural stimulation that teachers might have to keep up with or simulate. The heavy technology use makes reality by comparison uninteresting.” (Richtel, page 4).

When used in moderation outside of school, as well as, monitored within the classroom, computers can become an accepted academic resource and a successful educational technology.

Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter

What is a haiku? If you asked me this question just a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a decent answer. It wasn’t until twitter until I learned about haikus, and started posting them weekly under the then-popular hashtag, “#HaikuMonday.” Twitter is the perfect outlet for tiny samples of creative writing. In fact, one of my favorite accounts to follow is @VeryShortStory. The owner of VeryShortStory tweets out full stories that take place in 140 characters or less! Truly amazing!

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Blogger, Sam Regina, posted an article titled, “Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter,” written by Wendy Donahue of the of the Chicago Tribune. The question of how can parents encourage creativity in children’s writing was raised. Donahue responds with, “Each kid is like an uncut diamond. Pushing them is wrong. They have to discover which facets have to come off and which stay so they can glow.” It is important to pursue creativity for personal growth, not for an end result.

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Children are exposed to words now younger than ever. Take a look around. Just last night, I saw an 8 year old boy ask a diner manager for the Wifi password so he could be hooked online. Phones and tablets are glued to our kid’s hands, causing them to read more now than ever. With all of this reading happening, surely they are likely to type their own creative thoughts!

The Technologically Inspired Classroom

I feel as though teachers used to dread  introducing and involving  computers with daily lessons in their class for fear of it not working properly or taking too long to load, or even be too complicated. I remember sitting in class as a little girl and constantly wondering when we were going to get the chance to finally use the computers that were collecting dust in the back corner of the classroom. I always wanted the chance to use the computers, and was disappointed when the only chance we got to used them was during our “specials” period when we learned to type the right way.

Today, teachers are not only incorporating computers into their daily classroom instruction, but also using iPads, SMART boards, and social media to get their class more involved and interested in the lesson materials and topics. In an article from the World Economic Forum titled How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education, “there is a growing interest in the possibilities that different forms of virtual schooling can offer,” (Oliver). Teachers are becoming more creative  with how they incorporate technology into the classroom, and is proving to be very beneficial in the long run.intro1

A study was performed by the Institute of Education, which took a look at experiences of current university students who had completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). These students took a series of online classes, and the ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 23 (Oliver). The results of the study are pretty interesting and exciting for technology; “Of the students interviewed, 94% said finding academic resources on the internet was important to their success and 78% said being able to plan group tasks using online calendars, scheduling tools and discussion applications mattered. Another 71% found social networks useful for building relationships with other learners,” (Oliver). Essential parts of university life, such as virtual learning environments, discussion forums, Google tools, and audio-visual learning resources such as YouTube were all a major part of online classes, and gave the students  confidence with using the web, as stated in How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education.

“One student described how this experience online had helped them develop valuable skills and approaches: ‘I often use Google Docs and other Google tools to collaborate on group projects, including working with teams that are in different locations and time zones,'” (Oliver). Technology, both inside and outside of the classroom promotes independent learning, which is a really important skill for students to develop. Instead of having the information handed to them in a presentation and lecture form, students could be given instruction before class, then investigate further during class, like in a flipped classroom for example. Having the teacher present in class to answer any questions about the lecture/material from the previous night is really beneficial. Instead of sitting through a boring lecture in class then going home to complete the assignments, the students can talk to their professor about any issues and get them squared away before the end of class.

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Online learning and technology infused into the classroom is proving to be very beneficial to students, and teaches them various styles of learning. For students who do not have computers at home, the chance to use various forms of technology is wonderful! Technology is going to play a major role in our lives inside and outside of the classroom, so it only makes sense to get accommodated with that it has to offer when whenever possible!