Fake It

I was reading yet another helpful list from Larry Ferlazzo today and was inspired to write a post. His latest update was for a list of tools that create fake “stuff” that students can manipulate to tell all kinds of interesting narratives. By “stuff”, I mean various forms of social media. For example, there are tools for creating fake iPhone texting conversations or a series of fake Tweets that would demonstrate a series of events.

These are great tools, but how can they be used in the classroom? Richard over at Free Technology for Teachers put together a post that suggests how students and teachers could use a fake Facebook profile. For my part, I’m going to make a suggestion for various core subjects as to how each of these tools could be used in the classroom.

FakeiPhoneText – One of the nicest features of the iPhone is that text conversations are recorded on a single, scrollable screen, making a timeline of sorts. The benefit to teachers and students would be to create or possibly recreate a conversation via text.

  • Math – Sometimes, it can be really difficult to get students to describe a process used to solve a problem. A fake text conversation might be one way to allow students to get creative with this kind of exercise. One texting participant could ask the questions while the other provides answers.
  • Language Arts – When working with dialogue – whether in one’s own writing or in a piece of literature – students can get confused as to who is speaking. Having them break down key conversations can help make comprehension clearer. A fun activity might be to have students replay an important piece of dialogue through texts.
  • Social Studies – Throughout the course of history, there have been important correspondences between key actors. Imagine if American colonists had texted their demands to the king back in England. What might that conversation look like?
  • Science – All sciences depend on actions and reactions to explain phenomena. Students could describe one action with a text and the resulting reaction in another text, possibly including scientific reasoning in their texts.

My Fake Wall or Fakebook – Either of these tools could be used for creating a fake Facebook wall. Conversations with acquaintances, pictures, links… all the things we post on Facebook walls could demonstrate an understanding that goes deeper than the surface.

  • Math -The easy thing to do would be to design a fake profile for a famous mathematician with other mathematicians commenting on his or her wall. However, a more imaginative project might feature designing Facebook walls for mathematic concepts. Geographic shapes could be one route. Maybe a circle could post a video of the pyramids on triangle’s wall. Maybe even specific numbers could interact on a fake wall the way people do. The key would be to define and apply definitions through these posts.
  • Language Arts -Imagine if Romeo and Juliet were Facebook friends. Then, imagine their entire saga playing out on Juliet’s (or Romeo’s) timeline. The literary possibilities are endless.
  • Social Studies -At this point in history, we can follow the Facebook wall of our president. However, this sort of access was not available or was too new for previous presidents. Have students play out important events for the great leaders of history on a Facebook page.
  • Science -Imagine a famous scientist and the kinds of images, links, and videos he or she might post on a Facebook page and that is how students could use this tool in their science classes.

Fake Tweet Builder and TwHistory – Twitter is a pretty popular record of current events. It’s one of the few places we can obtain first-person perspectives and real-time observations of events as they happen. These tools allow users to create fake Tweets and/or Twitter timelines in order to show imaginary Twitter threads.

  • Math -Again, math processes could be played out using this tool, much like the fake texting tool mentioned above. However, imagine a word problem involving money, dimensions, or time played out in a Twitter thread. Figuring out a problem that takes place while the subject travels over a certain time period could make such a problem seem more concrete.
  • Language Arts -A student could map out the major plot elements and events in literature through a series of Tweets. It may also be helpful to work out the same components in an original work.
  • Social Studies -Twitter has recently played a major role in protests and events of social change all around the world. Students could record the events of Pearl Harbor or the Boston Tea Party via Tweets.
  • Science -Taking observations of scientific phenomena can be boring at times. However, students might have fun recording each action and reaction through Tweets.

Of course, the above ideas are not the only ways to use these tools. Some of these ideas can work for various subject areas or any of the tools. The important thing to remember is that using these fake social media tools is a fantastic hook for student interest. These activities also give them an opportunity to apply what students have learned in a new and creative way.

How would you use these fake social media tools in your class? What aspects of these activities would be most beneficial to students’ understanding of concepts? In what ways would it be more beneficial to use actual social media tools in the projects described above?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Friday 4All: Teacher’s Pet – Pinterest

For more than a year now I have been a Pinterest addict. I helped introduce it first here back in August on a guest post fromKrissy Venosdale(veteran eMINTS teacher) called “Pinspiration“. More recently you may have read about Pinterest on two different Tuesday Tool posts “Best of 2011” and “Pinterest”.

If you haven’t checked it out, now is the time. Teachers all over the world are using Pinterest to improve instruction. Whether they are pinning bulletin board ideas, images they might use in their lessons, links to technology resources, or to resources that help teach different topics, all are discovering new ideas to improve teaching and learning. Teachers are gathering teaching ideas visually and then sharing them with others.

Here are some Pinterest links to get you started or to keep you hooked…

The Basics and Goodies
What is Pinterest?
How to… with Pin button instructions
How everyday users are using Pinterest
Pin Etiquette
Pinterest Goodies – PinIt button, downloadable Pinterest logos, Pinterest “Follow Me” buttons
Copyright and Pinterest

Teachers and Pinterest
Teaching Blog Addict – “What Have You Found”-blog post about Pinterest link-up with pinboard links
Teaching” Boards Pinterest Search
“Teaching” Pins Pinterest Search
Kelly Tenkely
Krissy Venosdale
Teaching Friends
IdeasFromFutureTeacher
Nyla’s Crafty Teaching

Want to get started…all you need is an invite. Leave a comment here asking for one and I will send it your way. And if you want…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Brooke Higgins is a Pinterest addict and Instructional Specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

The Pinterest logo was created by Michael Deal and Juan Carlos Pagan and can be found at http://passets-cdn.pinterest.com/images/about/logos/Pinterest_Logo.png

Thursday’s Tip: Top-10 Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

Created at Wordle.

For this week’s tip, we’re bringing you a list of top-10 ways you can use social media in your classroom.

10. Social bookmarks like Delicious (still around), EverNote, and Diigo are great ways for groups of students researching a topic to gather and organize their resources. You can set up an account for an entire class, a small group, or one for individuals who share and follow their peers’ research.

9. As mentioned earlier this week, there are many new uses for YouTube (and other social video sharing sites like Vimeo). Channels can be created. Response videos and creative annotation and tagging can add another interactive level to the video sharing process.

8. Google Reader (H/T Brooke Higgins) can be a great way for teachers and students to follow particular resources as well as share in a community. A teacher can create a bundle of important resources to which he wants his students to subscribe. There is also the share feature where students and teachers could share interesting articles or blog posts they find in their own readings. The comment and search functions can also come in handy with Google Reader.

7. The new Groups on Facebook make it even easier to communicate with students and parents without having to give up privacy via friending. There are many more privacy safeguards for the new Groups, but there are also several new features that make Groups more community-friendly. Now, when comments are made on the new Groups’ walls, that same content shows up on every member’s feed and sends a notification. This insures that every member sees all the wall posts. Also, there is a group chat that allows more than one participant at a time, great for online class discussion. Documents, pictures, videos, links, and events can all be managed in one place.

6. Teachers and schools often complain about the cost of out-dated textbooks that don’t match student needs as closely as they should or are limiting in their scope. A great way to combat this is to write our own textbooks using wikis. Not only could a wiki be used to display a teacher’s notes, but there are multimedia capabilities as well as commenting options. Even better, students can be involved in writing their own textbooks. A wiki-created text could be revised and edited from year to year without the cost of a new textbook series eating up valuable space in a school’s budget since wikis are often free or very cheap for premium, ad-free packages. Oh, and there’s a wiki out there with directions for writing a textbook.

3.-5. Google Docs provide several great options for collaborative classroom work. Here are three:

  • Google Docs has its own presentation feature, much like PowerPoint. In fact PPT files can be uploaded to Google Docs and converted to an online presentation. Students working from different computers or locations can easily contribute to the same presentation. When presented to the class, students can chat during the presentation and the discussion shows up on a side panel.
  • Collaborative writing has never been easier than with Google Docs. Using the word processing feature, students can contribute to the same document, insert comments, chat about the direction of the document, and access older drafts. Plus, the document can easily be converted to a PDF or website.
  • Data collection and online tests quizzes are easier now with the addition of Google Forms to the Docs suite. A form can be set up to gather any data (surveys, quizzes, blog submissions ;) ) and it’s all gathered in a tidy spreadsheet that can be easily converted to charts and graphs. Plus, multiple users can gain access to the results, as with any Google Doc.

2. Photo sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr offer great opportunities not only for sharing and commenting on one another’s images, but also several other useful features. Tagging and/or annotation images is a great way to demonstrate understanding and to encourage contributions. Both offer some editing features and allow video uploads.

1. Blogs. Well, what else would you expect from a blog? Blogs are a tremendously underused social media tool. Collaborative writing, online publishing, interactivity between readers and writers, easy to manipulate HTML code with multiple options for embedding media… The possibilities for blogs is endless. Plus, blogs can be used alongside many of the tools already mentioned above.

How do you use social media in your classroom? Feel free to comment below or link back to this post.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Social Media

It’s Social Media Week here at Networked Teaching & Learning. All week long, we’re bringing you resources and ideas for bringing social media into your schools. Today, we focus on some resource links that can help make that happen.

One of the major obstacles for improving social media use in our schools is the lack of information out there about what social media is and what are the tools we can use. Edudemic provides the “Ultimate Teachers Guide to Social Media” in the form of an easy to read and navigate e-book. All the major tools are covered as well as resources for getting the most out of social media in your classroom.

Another obstacle is providing the right argument for social media’s use in our schools. Teach Paperless makes the case using the human voice as a metaphor for social media. How can students learn without their voice? The same can be asked of 21st century learners.

A second argument is made over at Mashable where adman Josh Rose demonstrates how social media is bringing back the old-fashioned values of our grandparents. Because of social media, we know about each other and are part of a more-informed community. That sounds like a great way to build community within a classroom and online.

Some teachers are leery of using social media sites such as Facebook with our private lives suddenly becoming public. Students also need to be aware of this change in society due to the public nature of social media. Mashable has ten suggestions for keeping one’s Facebook account as private as possible.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only online forum about which we should be concerned. Bobbi L. Newman, a.k.a. Librarian By Day, has a fantastic post on monitoring one’s personal brand. This is is important for both teachers and students. Controlling your online brand can market you as a leader in education or at least eliminate the chances that online content meant to be private becomes very public.

If you’re looking for a tool to manage all this social media (aside from your web browser), look no further than TweetDeck. TweetDeck allows users to monitor multiple accounts on various social networking sites. I use TweetDeck to manage several Twitter accounts, my Facebook account, and several groups and pages also on Facebook. There are several versions of Tweetdeck available for desktops, handheld devices (including smart phones), as well as a Chrome plugin. For an example of how TweetDeck can be used in the classroom, check out this video of a college course where Twitter and TweetDeck are utilized to take classroom conversation to another level.

Hopefully, these links will help you see the value of social media in our schools. What are some ways you are using social media to enhance teaching and learning at your school?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.