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“My Best Teachers Use Social Media”

By Katie Benmar, Education Week, 4/21/15

The PowerPoint presentations most of my teachers have used are not interactive or engaging.

If teachers want to better understand how social media can affect a student’s desire to learn, they must first look inside the mind of a student….

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Kik, Vine, and Snapchat all rule the lives of most middle and high school students…. More than nine out of every 10 teenagers has a social-media account.

To comprehend why students spend so much time on social media, the compelling appeal of Facebook, Instagram, and the like has to be understood. With that understanding, teachers should consider the possibility of using social media to enhance learning. Unfortunately, this has been rare in my experience and that of my friends….

Social-media apps are a frequent topic of discussion for my friends and me, along with school. Both subjects are relevant in our everyday lives, although they rarely intertwine. After class, we usually discuss school and homework for a few minutes before the conversation quickly turns to social media. “Wow, I’m really going to have to study for that vocab quiz!” turns into “Did you see what Sophia posted yesterday?” Understanding how to harness the power that social media have over the lives of most students is an important first step in incorporating it into teaching….

For me, the main distraction is Instagram. I’m not alone in this, either—a study from last fall reveals that 76% of teenagers have an Instagram account, while only 45% of teens use Facebook. Instagram takes little effort to maintain and is quickly accessible through my smartphone or iPad….

Learning how to use social media and technology to engage students is potentially beneficial for our learning, and some teachers have taken the first step. At my former middle school, one math teacher has her own Instagram page where she posts homework assignments and things that she taught that day in class. This way, when kids are checking their feeds, homework assignments and reminders will inevitably show up on the screen. This is a good way to get students’ attention and remind them in a relatable way about upcoming tests or homework. Although this teacher is using social media and other technology in a smart way, she is a minority in a sea of teachers and educators that I have known.

The PowerPoint presentations that most of my teachers have used in the past to instruct students are not…interactive or engaging. No wonder students’ minds wander, and they resort to social media as a means of keeping themselves entertained.

In my current high school, Smart Boards have been put into almost every classroom. These boards have seemingly limitless and fascinating capabilities, and they aren’t cheap…. But here’s the thing: Out of my six classes, only one of them uses the board on a daily basis…. The teacher who took the time to figure out the board and use the technology to his advantage has made his class one of my favorites. Watching him use the board to write out the lesson plan and make certain points in class is engaging. Seeing his thinking unfold on the board in front of us holds our attention.

The best teachers I’ve ever had have used technology to enhance learning, including using Facebook pages for upcoming projects or planned online chats about books we read in class. These teachers were interesting to listen to, and the projects were fun and challenging. Online discussions using code names replaced book reports. And the thing is, participating in a discussion with other people didn’t require any less thought about the book than writing a book report would have. It actually made me think about it and understand it better, because I was listening and responding to other people’s opinions that were backed up with evidence, instead of following the same strict book-report format that I had been required to do for years.

I hope that educators will consider experimenting more with technology and social media in their classrooms in a way that will be intellectually challenging to students….

Katie Benmar is a freshman at Roosevelt HS, Seattle WA.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/22/my-favorite-teachers-use-social-media-a.html

See also in ClassWise:

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Teachers Will Not Be Replaced by Technology…

By John Chubb, Independent School, Winter 2015

but technology will change the traditional roles of the teacher.

For all of the growth in online course-taking and full-time online schooling, the most action in education technology is in blended learning. Experience with online education is beginning to indicate that the most successful learning experiences generally involve a mix of technology-supported and teacher-supported instruction….

In every blended-learning model, teachers play crucial roles. If students choose online lessons from playlists, teachers work as coaches. If students rotate from online instruction to collaborative projects to small-group instruction, teachers accelerate and remediate students in small groups while challenging students through applied projects that the students often design themselves. If instruction flexes between technology-driven and teacher-led, the teacher not only teaches but also orchestrates the transitions.

To be clear, technology does and will change the traditional roles of the teacher. Teachers will be responsible much less for coverage of core knowledge and skills. Teachers will carry less of the burden of routine student assessment. Students will have more control over their learning, using technology to personalize a path of greatest success. Teachers will be called on to spend more time working with students individually and less time working with whole groups. They will need to differentiate their instruction rather than teach to the middle. They will need to challenge students to think at higher levels and to apply their knowledge to practical problems and in collaboration with other students–all things technology cannot do very well.

In other words, technology will ask that all teachers do what great teachers do already. Technology will not replace teachers, but it will demand that schools employ teachers of ever-greater professional quality. With thoughtful use of technology, our current all-star teachers will be even more effective in supporting, guiding, inspiring, and reaching all of their students.

Will technology enable schools to [use] fewer teachers than they do today? Perhaps, but not rapidly or dramatically so. Remember that online courses require teachers—high­caliber ones. Brick-and-mortar teachers may be somewhat fewer in number in the coming years, but their status and even their pay will be higher. That is the nature of disruptive technology­—replacing routine work with technology and introducing new work by highly skilled professionals.

John Chubb is president of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

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Teachers Still Matter Most in Digital Age

By Susan Patrick, Amplify Learning website

 Embracing digital learning means appreciating teachers’ permanent, critical role in the classroom.

Technology in the classroom can be a powerful catalyst. But…one thing remains the same: the importance of the teacher in motivating students, customizing instruction,…and managing classrooms that blend digital with live instruction.

Teachers–not tech–will always remain the “gold standard” of quality in education. Technology, in the hands of these great teachers, can empower higher degrees of engagement and equip students with the 21st-century skills they need for success after graduation. Embracing digital learning means appreciating teachers’ permanent and critical role in the classroom, while empowering them to harness the tools that expand their curriculum, and enhance communication with parents, administrators, and individual students.

Great learning for students isn’t a matter of “waiting for superman,” or waiting for technology to become a “silver bullet” for student success. The learning comes from quality teachers who consider high-tech tools— including online books, lessons, and other resources—part of a larger ecosystem of learning in a classroom. Targeted learning—whether one-on-one or in small groups—becomes easier to implement; advanced students stay challenged, and those at risk of falling behind get the remedial help they need….

Technology gives teachers more opportunities to allow their students to go deeper into learning subjects, building their skills in researching, writing, and communicating. And those opportunities extend outside the classroom more easily….

A teacher using digital curriculum and online discussions in a high school history class remarked, “I know my students so much better as I ask them to write essays and respond to other students’ essays with targeted feedback. We use the comments in the online learning space to dig into deeper discussions with our time together in classrooms.”…

We must remember that this world is both high tech and high touch. Students want both high tech for individualization and flexibility and high touch from great teachers. Computers will never replace people,…especially in the education of our youth. The promise of technology to help our teachers catalyze learning is a promise worth investing in, so our teachers can motivate and guide students with the best tools and have even more impact for student success.

Susan Patrick is CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Amplify Learning provides K-12 digital curriculum plus assessment/mobile learning tools to help schools integrate technology in the classroom.

https://www.amplify.com/viewpoints/why-teachers-still-matter-most-digital-age

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Narrow STEM Focus? Broad-Based Learning is Better

By Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post, 3/26/15 Steve Jobs: “Technology married with liberal arts makes our hearts sing.” Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities, or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, math) and deemphasize the […]
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Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

By Susan Pinker, The New York Times, 1/30/15 Technology works best when deployed by a terrific, trained teacher. [In President Obama’s recent State of the Union address] there was one thing he got wrong. As part of his promise to educate American children for an increasingly competitive world, he vowed to…“extend [the Internet’s] reach to every […]
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Best Classroom Gizmo? A Great Teacher

By Jeff Lantos, Los Angeles Times, 10/25/13  Unlike a computer, I can inspire, critique, counsel, and model good behavior. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s plan to supply every student with an iPad is, to be charitable, not going well. Before any more school districts decide to spend millions on high-tech gadgets, let me offer […]
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Why Students Still Prefer Printed Word

by Michael Rosenwald, The Washington Post, 2/22/15  Greater comprehension with fewer distractions. Frank Schembari loves books — printed books. He loves how they smell. He loves scribbling in the margins, underlining interesting sentences, folding a page corner to mark his place. Schembari is not a retiree who sips tea at [a] bookstore. He is 20, a […]
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The Trouble With Khan Academy

By Robert Talbot, The Chronicle of Higher Education  It’s great for learning about a subject; inadequate for higher-level thinking. Let’s start with what Khan Academy is. Khan Academy is a collection of video lectures that give demonstrations of mechanical processes. When it comes to this purpose, KA videos are, on the average, pretty good. Sal […]
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Creating Successful Blended Learning Classrooms

By Bill Tolley, Education Week, 10/8/14 For some educators, blended learning—combining face-to-face instruction with online work—is turbulence in their flight path. Peter West recently addressed the challenges that experienced educators face when considering a blended model. When teachers embrace blended-learning, they have to relinquish authority over content and time—the comfort of cruise control—in exchange for […]
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DEBATE: Virtual School on Snow Days?

from “Room for Debate,” The New York Times, 2/5/14 [Michael’s Note: This debate was inspired by the decision some Chicago-area schools made to upload digital lessons and hold snow-day classes online.] “There’s Beauty, and Learning, in a Snow Day” (by Kate Fridkis, Home Education Magazine columnist) I’m conflicted when I read about schools implementing long-distance […]
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