Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snapchat. Yes, snapchat!

I have had been using Twitter in the classroom for diverse activities for pretty much a while.  Among these ones, I usually send out a question and students tweet their answers.  First tweet gets the prize. It has always proven to be pretty engaging and students love it.  Of course, you can also use some other quizzing apps such as Socrative or Exitticket.  However I find Twitter a bit more engaging due to its social aspect.

So it all happened during a Physics class.  The topic was temperature conversions.  Since I knew that most students were good at temperature conversion from past courses I thought of this class as a review.  So I planned to use Twitter contest.  I sent out a temperature reading and they would convert it to another unit.  To avoid them cheating and using Google search to get an automatic answer I had them solve the problem on paper and take a snapshot of the process and tweet it.  We kicked off but we encountered a problem.  For some reason, two of the teams were having issues with their mobile Twitter (I only allow them to use handhelds for this particular activity since a PC or Mac server might send tweets faster than a mobile and some of my students have handhelds only.).  Their tweets were not sending out so the game was a bit uneven.  After three trials we realized it was not going to work.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mishaps of BYOD

I am still a dreamer when it comes to 1:1 in my classroom.  I pretty much fantasize with the day that begins to happen at my school.  In the meantime, I have adopted BYOD (Bring your own device), also known as BYOT (bring your own technology), as a means of using technology effectively in the classroom.  This is, of course, not the only way but it has come a long way in my classroom in general.  Most of the time, of course, whenever I plan to use devices, I keep in mind that it will require a teamwork activity since not all of my students own a mobile Internet-enabled apparatus.

So, besides this, I have encountered several other situations regarding BYOD that I have to face as "side effects" of the implementation of the policy.  If these outweigh the level of engagement you acquire using students´ devices is pretty much up to you and your settings and context.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Signs that you are a Connected Educator

Yes, I know.  You have probably read an article with a like title before.  But I promise you I have not read any and this is a list I came up from my own personal experience and that of those other amazing educators that I take pride of being connected with.

So, you are a connected educator and let´s face it, something in you  has changed.  You don´t even speak the same way you did when your classroom had those wooden or brick walls that you have brought down.  I collected some symptoms that you may have been through since you decided to go international.  In no particular order, here they are:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Uses for Posterous

If you have not heard about Posterous, I do invite you to click on the link and go check it out.  I promise you you´ll love it and will make your eyes glow and your head spin with ideas on how you can use it.  In fact, I believe there are blog posts filled with ways to use it.  Go check them out!

In short words, Posterous is a service that allows you to create several online spaces (sites).  It allows collaborative contributions by anyone you decide.  It is been used by several educators already due to it´s nice interface, customization, and ease of use.

Technology is not a Golden Coin

i hate digital [analog remix]
(Photo credit: the|G|™Ok
We have this quote in my country: "We are no golden coins to be loved by everyone."  I´ve found this is, of course, true for technology, in education.  

One of the things that I´ve always pointed out about the whole technology thing is not to expect everyone to be so delighted about it as we are.  

So, I was in this Parent School night and I was excited about sharing with parents how students were being engaged using Diigo and the tremendous learning taking place there.  I also mentioned that we were going to continue using our digital platform, Edmodo, to post homework, share important information, dates, etc.  I mentioned that students would be discussing in virtual forums through Collaborize Classrooom.  I presented them with Posterous, through which I was expecting to share  some thoughts with students and have students do the same.  Of course, I mentioned how we were going to be using social media to engage and learn.  I showed them our most recent Wallwisher about scientists who contributed to the development of Biology.  I informed that some evaluations would be made through Socrative or Google Forms.  I spoke to them about our brand new BYOT policy.  And, and, and...ok, you get the idea.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let the Humor Begin!

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” -Charles Dickens

Innovative educators are always trying to make each and every class as meaningful and relevant to their students as possible.  They create, they collaborate, they ask, they solve....they innovate.  It is clear to most of them that it is what they model, what they represent as a teacher and as a human that will impact students´ lives other than the content they could possibly deliver.

One great tool innovative teachers should use in the classroom is:  humor.  Yes, the kind that comes out spontaneously and actually creates a delightful atmosphere in the classroom.  Doesn´t mean you can´t practice some comedic lines in front of the mirror and try to look like Jim Carrey...

Laughter is so relaxing, it is even said it´s medicine to the soul.  Your students stare at you as someone they can take hand of in difficult moments some times.  They need to see you as a caring human being, as one that went through or is going through some of the same things they are.  Use your best charisma to approach them.  Tell them a little joke from time to time.  Make fun of yourself; nothing makes you more human to students than when you make mistakes and actually learn from them.

Here´s a secret:  Students will laugh at your jokes even if they are really bad.  There are two main reasons for that:
  1. They will laugh out of respect.  But it still works, they are laughing after all.  Too worried about mockery? 
  2. They will laugh harder at the fact that it is you, their teacher, actually telling a joke. 
Share an anecdote of your own experience.  Tell them about that embarrassing moment you had at the bus station with this person once.  Talk to them about that time when you were in second grade and the teacher had you in detention after school time and you  peed on your pants. Wait, that actually happened to me...

Don´t overlook the power of humor within your classroom.  Humor humanizes, makes you approachable and reliable.  It allows you to connect to your students at a more personal level.  Be spontaneous, be surprising, be fun.  In the measure of the possible try not to be the teacher students groan about at the knowledge their next class is with you.   May God help you as you try to bring joy, jolly, and happiness into your classroom using humor.  

So, a teacher walks into a bar....
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photo credit: horizontal.integration via photo pin cc

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Enhance your Social Media presence

So you´ve got yourself into Twitter and have been building a succesful PLN right there.  You have built a nice community in which you get and give useful information.  As a connected educator you are, you have a blog in which you share your thoughts.

One of the best ways to get attention to your blog post is sharing through social media.  If you are using Twitter, you might want to include popular hashtags; this will share your content with other than only your followers.  Let me introduce you some tools that might help increase your social presence, driving more traffic to your content, and therefore increasing your audience.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Email still rules!

Despite the uprising of so many websites and applications that make our lives easier, the email still rules and is the boss! We still need it and will still be using it. Most of these innovative sites we sign up for require for us to provide an email address so, who's the boss?

In most cases we still rely on the email to communicate with parents, for instance. Newsletters are not going anywhere. When it comes to communication nothing yet is as effective and, very importantly, as targeted as the email, maybe except for FB messages... Will we see the death of email shortly? I dare to say that not likely.

This last Wednesday I attended #toolschat, a Twitter chat that takes place weekly at 10 pm EDT (GMT-4:00). Topic this week was about emailing and tools to optimize email experience. Usually, this chat is attended by Social media experts and gurus, as well as marketeers. I got inspired into sharing with you fellow educators some amazing tools to optimize communication through email. Grab a grip!
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