There's always a top list for everything, but this was the first time I'd seen the Top 100 Tools for Learning. I've only used 15 of the top 30, which tells me a) that I stick with what I know, and b) that I don't know very much. I'm guessing if I were to continue counting, my ratio would remain about the same for the whole list. I was surprised that Twitter was the number one tool for learning, as I consider Twitter to be more social than anything else, although that's also one of the tools that I've only used one time. In reading the brief descriptions, PowToon caught my eye so I opened an account and sort of tried it out. I think it could be pretty neat, and definitely have my students' attention, but it also seemed time consuming to make. So if I use it, I think it would be for something that I would use frequently, without needing to make a lot of changes to, like going over the syllabus, perhaps.
I've used Facebook since 2005, so I considered myself very familiar with it. However, until I was required to create a Facebook fan page for a class I'm taking (Technology in Kinesiology), I never ever considered using Facebook in my PE classes. The only time I've ever used Facebook in class at all was when I was teaching a Living Skills class and the unit was on internet safety/cyber-bullying/online etiquette. Anyway, I was reluctant to make myself accessible on Facebook to my students, but since I can do it behind the mask of CHS Yoga & Pilates instead of my real name, I am feeling a little better about it.
I told my classes about my new page, because I figured if I was going to make it, I might as well make it useful, and they were surprisingly receptive to the idea. I still need to make it more appealing, but I think it could be useful for a couple of reasons. I don't do a lot of pencil-paper assignments in class, and the vast majority of the learning is done by participating, so having an easy place to post visual reminders and resources about upcoming events is great. The other reason I think it could be useful is because I plan to post links to various things we do in class, so when the time comes for them to create their own yoga or Pilates routines, they can use the Facebook page as a resource page because they aren't allowed to take my books and magazines home.
I hadn't heard this term before, "Generation Always-On," but it makes sense. I am on the end of the generation that still grew up going to the library to do research (read: encyclopedias, not the internet), but by the time I was graduating high school, many of my friends had cell phones, and my family had switched to high-speed DSL. So I come from the perspective that things are definitely different now for my students than it was for me. It's hard to compare my high school experience as a student with the students I teach, but I do think that now there are more students who have shorter attention spans and want to be spoon-fed the answers. So many of them have Google in their pockets, that often times if I ask a question and they don't know the answer, they'll just look it up on Google even though they aren't supposed to have their phones out.
I truly think that they sometimes don't even realize that I want them to try to think about it, and that the thinking process is valuable. I think that they think I just want them to give me the right answer. Many times I have asked a student to put their phone away, and they will say something like, "I was just looking to see what time it was," even though there is a clock in the room. Or in the locker room, it is a constant battle to get the girls to put their phones away. It seems like a majority of them are on their phones out of habit, more than anything else. When they get back to the locker room after class, they more often than not will instantly check their phone. It is exceedingly frustrating from a management standpoint, but also sad that they are so disconnected from what is happening around them, and more concerned about what they may have missed in the past 30 minutes online.
I recently read this study about the use of social networking in undergraduate education and found myself feeling old. Since I attended a small, private university, it took longer to petition Facebook to come to our school than it did for larger, public universities. That was back when only college students could have a Facebook account, and I explained how I heard things via Facebook by saying, "Oh, they wrote on my wall, which is like sending a message, like an email, but where everyone can see it. I mean, everyone who I'm friends with on Facebook, which is a website where you can upload pictures and people can look at them." Now, even my grandparents know exactly what I'm talking about if I say, "I saw it on Facebook."
In 2007, some of my friends took a class where they were required to have a Facebook account and participate in discussions pertaining to the course content. They were also placed in groups and had group projects that all took place via Facebook. The rest of us thought that this sounded kind of fun, but also really easy. It turned out to be not as easy as anticipated, because they obviously still had to do work, but nobody really complained about the format. That was the only time I heard of Facebook being used in a college class.
In my high school Spanish classes, I used social media a lot, but never personal information. For example, Zambombazo has a section called Twiccionario where they create worksheets using authentic Tweets. I also used Youtube frequently to show commercials or short video clips. I have found social media to be less easy to use in P.E. classes, mostly due to the nature of the class and inconvenience of needing to set up the computer and projector each time.
But for some reason, it makes more sense to me for college professors to engage sites like Facebook and Twitter into their classes than high school teachers. I think it's because college students are adults. They are independent, responsible for themselves, and are choosing to be there. Professors have less need to worry about being friends with students on Facebook than high school teachers do, if nothing else, purely because of the age of the students. It's also easier to require college students to use a computer and internet. High schoolers usually, but not always, have access to both of those things, and at least at my school, it is difficult to get time in a computer lab. Logistically, it just seems easier to have the emphasis of social media be in college instead of high school.
It may not look like this picture was edited much, and it really wasn't. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use the flag feature on such an appropriate picture! This was when my husband, Luke, was playing for the German National team during the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in 2012. I really like this pho.to website. It's new to me, and it's super easy to use, with a ton of options. I'm impressed that it knew exactly where my cheeks were to put the flags, and that I didn't have to alter it at all.
In June I participated in a "fun run" at the hospital my dad works at, Santiam Memorial Hospital. It's a yearly event, and my mom, siblings and I have done them off and on for the past 20 years or so. My dad, however, is not a runner by any stretch of the imagination and has never run in one until this year. I'm not entirely sure what prompted him to join, but it was a nice moment for us to share, even though we didn't run together.
This is a picture of my dad and me. Dad even won his age group!
In September, I signed up to do another run at the local Oktoberfest celebration. I mentioned it to my mom about 45 minutes before it started, and she decided she wanted to do it too. She, too, won her age group. It was really fun to see my mom accept her award, even though in the long run the pin and ribbon don't mean anything.
This is a picture of my mom and me after the Oktoberfest run.
In a week I am doing another run with my cousin. I sign up for these runs mostly for two reasons. 1) Committing to a run motivates me to stay in running shape. 2) Socially, it's very enjoyable and a fun way to spend time with other people. I am also hoping that the procrastinator that lives in me will someday realize that not training for a run is a terrible idea, and I should stop doing it. Someday.
Initially, I felt a bit uncomfortable creating a Facebook page for something other than personal use. And because I'm not part of a business, it felt strange to think about connecting with my students via Facebook, when before I have been so vehemently opposed to befriending them on social media. I still have things to learn about the differences between a fan page and a personal page, but I feel better knowing that I can post things as CHS Yoga/Pilates instead of as myself. I would actually prefer not being able to look at the pages of students who like or comment on my page. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I am starting to like the idea. My first post was a boring one, perhaps, reminding students that they have a sun salutation test coming up. But this page could be an easy way to keep in touch with students after the 50 minutes per day that I see them. I can post things (maybe even attach documents?) to the page and tell students to check it if they're absent. I'm curious how many of my students have Facebook, so when I tell them about my new page next week, I'll take an informal poll. But my guess would be about 85% of the students have a Facebook page, and since many of them try to check Facebook during class on their phone anyway, I can at least redirect them to something semi-productive. https://www.facebook.com/CHSyoga.pilates
Scoop.it is the latest social media site that I am now part of, thanks to my Technology in Kinesiology class that I'm taking. http://www.scoop.it/t/yoga-pilates I chose to use Scoop.it because it seemed easy to use and wasn't focused quite as much on sharing my website with other people. However, as I'm using it, the website seems very similar to Pinterest, which I already use. Maybe the more I use it, the more I'll see the differences, but so far it feels like I'm just pinning things to a board on Pinterest. Either way, I'm learning more about what's "out there" on the internet.
Like all students who grew up during the transition of large, heavy encyclopedias that couldn't be checked out of the library to encyclopedias online that could be accessed from any computer with dial-up internet, the age of the internet had a great impact on my learning experience. There's something nostalgic, even, about the concept of going to the library to do research out of books instead of using a computer. But I think that learning from the internet, including blogs, is so much more natural and carefree than intentional encyclopedia learning.
Even though I'm not currently teaching Spanish, I still follow two bloggers: Kristy Placido, who I mentioned in a previous post, and http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/. Zambombazo is a website that I've told my students time and again is my favorite website. The authentic approach to learning Spanish is unique and I love how it utilizes current events in the free, downloadable assignments.
A blog that I recently started following for my yoga/Pilates classes is http://www.blogilates.com. I really like the workouts that Cassey does, and I use many of them and adapt them to my own classes. In addition to using the workouts that she does, the website is also a good springboard for thinking of my own ideas. I check Blogilates at least 3 or 4 times a week.
I think in general, learning from the internet is a positive thing because of the massive variety of topics, in addition to the speed in which information can be acquired. The blaring risk is that the source might not be reliable. I think it is getting a little better, but people still tend to believe what they read without making sure that the source is reliable. There are satirical websites, like The Onion, that occasionally have articles that get spread around with people who don't recognize that the article is meant to be a joke. Students need to be continually reminded to check their sources, but I do think that the internet is a quicker, easier way to do research than previous methods.
I listened to Marcus Buckingham's video about focusing on strengths, and I found it to be a great, new perspective! I guarantee that if I were given the same question about which subject needs more time out of As, Bs and an F, that I would have said that subject with the F. But from Marcus's perspective, that's not necessarily true. He thinks that more time should be spent on areas of strength instead of weakness. In a strange, probably condescending way, when I think of myself, I agree with that concept. But when I think of my students, my first reaction is to disagree, with the thought that they need to know how to do algebra. Even though I don't use it, they might, so just in case, they should learn it until they have at least a C.
I wonder how much of that thought is a result of being taught under the impression that it is very important to be well-rounded because you never know where life might take you. But then I think about specific students who may not even graduate high school because they can't pass their math test. What kind of disadvantage will they enter the world with even though they may have great welding or communication skills? What if they care about community service and helping others, but are told that if they don't pass their math and writing tests they won't graduate? How are we helping them succeed in life when we aren't building them up in areas that they are good at, and more importantly, care about?
I have had classes with students who really love the subject, and not only are they easier to teach, but the class has a completely different feel to it compared to students who are there because they have to be. There is value in doing things you don't like to do. But I think there needs to be more emphasis on encouraging students in areas of interest and success and helping them find their strengths.