jueves, abril 30, 2009

Using twitter in and out of the classroom


At the moment, I am working with Curriki on a number of open education initiatives in the Middle East and abroad. Today a post went live on the Curriki blog that I think many Literacy is Priceless readers will find of interest–a post regarding the use of Twitter in and out of the classroom. To see the original post, click here. I’ve also pasted a copy of the post below.

I would love to hear your thoughts about using Twitter for within the classroom. Feel free to share your comments here or on the Curriki blog!

Anna (@Osakalumna & @Bon_Education)

P.S. Thanks to @moriza for inspiring my recent interest in using Twitter in the classroom!

Using Twitter in and out of the Classroom

Recently there has been a surge of interest around the use of Twitter and other social media tools in the classroom. As this article points out, educators are increasingly experimenting with Twitter as a teaching tool in and out of the classroom to share resources, increase communication and prepare their students with skills for the 21st century workplace.

For Curriki members that have heard of Twitter, but don’t quite know what it is…Wikipedia states:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers).

As you explore ways to effectively use Twitter for educational purposes, take a look at this presentation by Tom Barrett titled, “Twenty-Two Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom”. For example:

  • Idea #1: Student can use Twitter to gather real world data up-to-date data by posting questions to fellow tweeters about location, historical facts, temperature, etc.
  • Idea #3: Students can use Twitter to summarize their opinions or topics they’ve learned in class.
  • Idea #10: “Word Morph”. Students can use Twitter to ask peers for synonyms and other word-related information.
  • Idea #17: Students can use Twitter to communicate with experts.

As you explore the use of Twitter in your classroom, we welcome you to post your lessons and ideas on Curriki. In addition, feel free to follow our tweets here. Curriki uses Twitter to share information about education technology, to highlight resources contributed by the Curriki community and to connect and solicit feedback and ideas. See you on Twitter!

Primary school children will learn to read on Google

Computing skills will be put on an equal footing with literacy and numeracy in the biggest overhaul of primary education for more than 20 years.

Young boy using laptop: Primary schoolchildren will learn to read on Google in slimmer curriculum
Children will be taught to read using internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo in the first few years of school Photo: GETTY

Children will be taught to read using internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo in the first few years of school, it is announced on Thursday.

They will be encouraged to put "keywords" into websites to navigate online articles and blogs as digital media is given similar prominence to textbooks and novels.

Pupils in English primary schools will learn to write with keyboards, use spell-checkers and insert internet "hyperlinks" into text before their 11th birthday under the most significant reform of timetables since the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988.

The review by Sir Jim Rose, former head of inspections at Ofsted, also recommends the use of Google Earth in geography lessons, speadsheets to calculate budgets in maths, online archives to research local history and video conferencing software for joint language lessons with schools overseas.

His report, which will be accepted in full by ministers, also proposes more IT training for teachers to keep them ahead of "computer savvy pupils".

It will stop the creation of a "digital underclass" amid fears poor pupils lose out as those from affluent homes are bought the latest gadgets, it adds.

The proposals have been criticised by the Conservatives who accused the Government of “giving in to the latest fads”.

Sir Jim was appointed by ministers amid fears the primary curriculum - taught to at least 3.6 million children - was too "cluttered".

It recommends axing traditional subject headings and grouping timetables into six broad "areas of learning".

Key features are expected to include an emphasis on competitive sport at all ages, including activities in which "children have to outwit opponents", and a requirement that all pupils can swim 25 metres by the age of 11. More "outdoor challenges" such as orienteering, canoeing and camping should also be provided following claims children are being denied the chance to take risks because of the health and safety culture.

The curriculum also includes:

*Lessons on how to speak proper English in formal situations and show "respect in conversation", including using hand gestures and making eye contact

*Compulsory foreign languages for all pupils aged seven to 11

*A study of the Romans, War of the Roses, Industrial Revolution and the world wars in history, even though an earlier draft of Sir Jim's report suggested dropping key dates to allow schools to decide which two periods of British history to teach

*Sex and relationships education at all ages, including learning about body parts from five, puberty from seven and human reproduction from nine.

A draft version of Sir Jim's report also appears to make a renewed emphasis on "lifestyle" classes across the curriculum, despite fears lessons risk being hijacked by political correctness.

New-style lessons in "historical, geographical and social understanding" - one of the six learning areas - includes a focus on sustainability, climate change, recycling, human rights and a requirement to learn about the role of local authority councillors and MPs.

It comes as a study by Policy Exchange, the think-tank, claims up to £2bn has been wasted by Labour in the last decade attempting to improve children's grasp of the basics in primary schools.

Anna Fazackerley, head of the think-tank's education unit, said progress in the three-Rs was quicker before its flagship literacy and numeracy strategies were introduced in 1999 and 2000. She added: "Only 56 per cent of the boys and 66 per cent of the girls who left primary school in 2008 could read, write and count to the minimum standard. Even with lower pass marks, easier tests, widespread 'teaching to the test' and millions of pounds spent on consultants and advisors, our literacy and numeracy standards are woefully behind that of other countries."

Nick Gibb, the Conservative shadow schools minister, said: "Ministers need to make sure that the new primary curriculum is rigorous and protects proper subject teaching. The suggestion of merging proper history and geography lessons into vague 'themed learning' would take primary education in the wrong direction. Ministers must resist the temptation to give in to the latest fads, all of which will mean a weaker education for children."

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said: "It's a complete nonsense to suggest that it's an either-or choice between learning history and geography on the one hand; and learning about personal skills and well being on the other. Children should learn both because that is the best way to raise standards for all.

"Sir Jim's review will give primary heads and teachers more freedom to decide what to teach and how so children enjoy learning and make good progress.

"Children must be secure in English and maths and have good communication skills and learn these essential life skills if they're going to succeed and that is central to the Rose recommendations."

Spatial, Visual Rhetoric Meet New Media

Writing Showcase

The goal of the First Year Writing Showcase is to inform students about ways in which information is collected, disseminated and arranged and to involve them in projects where they create their own modes of communication.

First Year Writing Showcase

When the First Year Writing Showcase opened to a broader UA population in 2007, 54 students and four faculty were involved. This year, the Writing Program is expecting 22 faculty and more than 450 students to participate.

The First Year Writing Showcase, which incoproates teachings in writing and visual communication, began at the UA in 2007 and has since seen exponential growth in participation among UA students, faculty and instructors.

Visual communication – typography, illustration, graphic design and other forms – and the educational focus encouraging alphabetic literacy in students are by no means new.

But the way The University of Arizona Writing Program collaborates with faculty members to teach students to evaluated and defend the ways in which text, images, audio and video commingle to create messaging is.

For three years, the UA program has opened its First Year Writing Showcase to a broader range of faculty and graduate student instructors outside of the Honors College. As part of the showcase, Writing Program staff train instructors to incorporate visual and spatial rhetoric into their English classrooms and in working with student.

"We are responsible for teaching writing to students in the 21st century," said Anne-Marie Hall, director of the UA's Writing Program and co-director of the Southern Arizona Writing Project.

And, at the semester's end, their students must complete a project showcasing their interpretation of how text and image placement can interact. That means understanding how information is collected, disseminated and arranged.

Individual students and groups will projects they created on May 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.

"Students are being exposed at a much greater rate to visual and spatial rhetoric, whether it be an encounter with groups on Facebook, through videos or graphic print and print work," said Christopher Minnix, the Writing Program's assistant director.

The work crosses into creative, technical, business, public policy and other areas in writing, Minnix said.

"We are trying to students learn how they can use their knowledge of rhetoric to understand how text plays a role in shaping their lives and how they can become authors of texts that offer compelling arguments using visual elements and multimodal texts," he said.

"When you look at the amount of information on the Internet it's dizzying," said Minnix, also an adjunct lecturer in the UA's English department. "The amount of people working to gain our attention with their message is great. In order to create an environment in which we are able to identify with message, to take action or be persuaded often requires creating a visual-spatial argument."

Though the showcase it young, its model has resulted in a steady growth in popularity.

The first open showcase in 2007 involved 54 students and four faculty members. Last year's drew 230 students and 18 instructors. This year's showcase will involve 22 faculty and more than 450 students.

Showcase coordinators say faculty members have been drawn to the project because it is meant to challenge the traditional mode of teaching alphabetic literacy, encourage students and faculty to consider special and visual rhetoric and incorporate new media forms in the classroom.

English instruction becomes not simply a matter of writing a research paper in a clear, concise and accurate matter.

But when students create a poster for a presentation, shoot a short film, develop a PowerPoint or build a Web site and incorporate flash animation, they must begin to understand that there exists deeply embedded meaning in the orientation of images, text and typology and other modes of communication.

Communication, then, becomes about placement choice and messaging, and both the writing and learning experience revolves around a topic that is much more fluid, fresh and timely.

Modern students, Hall said, often view writing as a more complex set. It's not a practice of setting pen to paper, or event type to a computer screen. Students increasingly use and are drawn to multiple images, video and audio influences in communicating.

"They are using language in different ways, and not just alphabetic literacy," said Hall, who presented information on the showcase with a UA colleague during the Conference on College Composition and Communication, which was held in March.

"We are really building the theoretical base and the instructors are building it into their courses," Hall said.

"I think there is a tension between teaching traditional writing – the five paragraph essay – and responding to where we live today," she added. "This is an exciting modality of our time. We're pushing our curriculum into the 21st century and taking a bottom-up, organic approach to teaching and learning."