Life Class, Oprah, and eMINTS-Part 1

A few days ago, a friend called me and said, “Hey do you like Oprah?”

I said, “Yes!”

“My battery on my phone is dying, but I have a ticket for you for Monday night!  I’ll call later.”

For a few days, it didn’t sink in.  I was going to Oprah!  I received an email with the details about the show, what to wear, what to bring, what not to bring etc.  As the time got closer, I got more and more excited!  I was going to see Oprah!!!!!

As we entered the Peabody Theater, I was overwhelmed with the excitement and energy in the building!  This was going to be a great night!  I had no idea how inspiring the evening would be or how much Oprah connected with components of the eMINTS Instructional Model.

Throughout the night, distinct parts of the eMINTS Instructional Model that stood out in my mind Powered by Technology and Community of Learners.

Oprah is very Powered by Technology.  I thought it was unique when the letter confirming my attendance included, “Bring a charged Smart Phone or Tablet.”  Hmmm, in a society where we are encouraged to put our devices away, Oprah was embracing the online community through tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and Skype.  Large screens in the theater posted directions for her Twitter Feed #Lifeclass.  Before the show began, people over the theater were tweeting about their excitement and expectations for the show!  There was another screen showing live Facebook comments.  Oprah also had viewers from six different global locations join the show via Skype.

Photos by: Stephanie Madlinger @cyberteacher

Prior to the show, the audience producer encouraged everyone to turn off their ringers, but keep posting throughout the show.  They wanted the audience to bring the experience to the viewers at home.  They wanted the viewers at home to have an interactive experience.  We even did a Twitter Poll.  The Oprah network provided the audience free wifi so we could be a big part of the interactive learning, which took place!  Throughout the show, Oprah referred to the screen of tweets and Facebook messages.  As an audience member, I was on the edge of my seat secretly wishing she’d read one of my tweets.  I was encouraged and motivated to keep paying attention to the content of the show, process what I was learning, and share with others via my Smart Phone.

How could this tool be used with students?  You are supposed to be 13 or older to have a Twitter account.  I started to look for some microblogging sites that could be used as an alternative to twitter.

We’ve featured Edmodo on our blog before.   Edmodo is an online, private, classroom environment.  As the teacher, you set up the classroom and students register.  There are opportunities for discussion boards, gradebooks, assignment calendars, voting, and microblogging!

So how might I incorporate microblogging into a class lesson just like Ms. Oprah Winfrey?

Imagine your students working on an inquiry lesson.  On the SMART Board you project your Edmodo class site.  As the students discover, question, and make authentic connections they post their thoughts and findings to Edmodo.   As a class you set up guidelines for the length of posts, what is appropriate content, how to site other classmates if you use their information etc.  Using the Power of Technology, students are engaged and interacting.  To assist with management, you could designate one person in each group to be responsible for posting information.  As the facilitator, you can watch the Edmodo feed and see where your students are with their understanding.  You can stop and highlight/summarize big classroom “ah-has”, do mini-lessons on misconceptions, or individualize instruction by providing guiding questions to a specific group based on the data from the Edmodo feed.

For a more “global” experience consider connecting with a classroom in another state, country, or school.  Collaborate and plan an inquiry project with another teacher and share ideas through an Edmodo online classroom.

What possibilities can you imagine for the power of microblogging with students?  What are some ways you are currently using microblogging?

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.