Tag Archives: Twitter

Using Social Justice to Teach Reading/Writing in the ELA/SS Classroom #Engsschat 2/29 7 PM EST

This upcoming Monday 2/29/2016 7 PM EST I will be guest moderating #engsschat. The topic is one that I am passionate about and a theme that drives my teaching and curriculum. Our twitter conversation will address social justice as a catalyst to teach reading and writing in English and social studies classrooms. My objective is to engage in a dialogue with other educators about literacy and social responsibility.

Below are the questions for the chat

Here are a few excellent resources for teaching and learning more about social justice and social responsibility.

Facing History and Ourselves

On their website, Facing History states, “the lifeblood of democracy is the ability of every rising generation to be active, responsible decision-makers. And we believe that inspired teachers and innovative methods are the key.” Facing History words with educators around the world throughout to improve their effectiveness in the classroom, as well as their students’ academic performance, historical understanding, and civic learning. Facing History has a number of incredible curricula and resources for teachers and students to critically examine history and the moral choices we confront everyday.

Teaching Tolerance and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Teaching Tolerance offers a magazine, curriculum materials and lesson plans, webinars, and professional development on topics committed to diversity and inclusion of  all people.

Zinn Education Project

The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the teaching of people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country based on the lens of history highlighted in Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States The website offers free, downloadable lessons and articles. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.

Two excellent resources about teaching social responsibility include:

caring-hearts-and-critical-minds                           9780325053592

 

Here is a middle school book list with titles that address social justice:

 

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Looking Forward to 2016 by Reflecting on 2015

This past year has been a whirlwind professionally. I delved into the world of #gamification, attended a plethora of conferences expanding connections and teaching ideas. As a teacher, I selfishly love to learn and sharing knowledge with others.

Below are the highlights of the conferences I presented and guest blog posts I wrote in 2015.

Get Your Game On guest blog post for ISTE Project ReimaginED.

Gamification Webinar for ISTE

Your Students Are Your Best Resource for Gamification guest blog post for Classcraft

Utilizing Interactive Notebooks to Support ELLs your Classroom  a workshop for NYS TESOL Annual Conference

Unpacking Race in To Kill a Mockingbird a presentation for Critical Questions in Education Conference in Baltimore, MD.

Tech Based Alternative Assessments in Lieu of Book Reports & 5 Paragraph Essays presented at ILA in St. Louis, MO

Twitter in the K12 Classroom: A Collaborative Tool for Learning Webinar presented for ISTE

Attaining Common Core Reading & Writing Standards with Interactive Notebooks presentation for Long Island LILAC/NRC Conference

And lots more to look forward to in 2016: ISTE, ILA, NCTE and other awesome conferences, EdCamps, and professional development opportunities.

#ISTELitChat is going to be awesome in 2016 with new guest moderators. We meet the last Sunday of each month at 9 PM, just type in the hashtag #ISTELitChat in Twitter to join us.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2016 and look forward to learning, growing, and collaborating together.

 

 

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Talking Race & Social Injustice with All American Boys author Jason Reynolds

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be delayed at the airport with Jason Reynolds as we waited to board our flight to St. Louis for ILA. I guess it was the fact that I was reading Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman to pass the time and he asked me what I thought of the book (I will leave my response to that question for another post). We began talking about all different writers and books. He offered me a glimpse into his writing life, his writing mentors, and I was immediately in awe. Jason Reynolds is an award winning YA author who writes honestly and authentically about urban teens today. He was mentored by the late, great Walter Dean Meyers and spins new books out every six weeks — he already has ten books in line to be published with his publisher.  I am amazed, inspired, and motivated.

Jason Reynold’s most recent book, All American Boys (2015) co written with YA author, Brendan Kiely, is a must read. The story is told from two perspectives: Rashad (African American) and Quinn (White). When Rashad is mistaken for a shoplifter, a white police officer get physically aggressive and Rashad lands in the hospital with multiple injuries. But Quinn witnessed the police brutality and he must decide whether to speak up about what he saw or stay silent.

This book is so important today as we all turn on the news and are inundated with police violence, brutality, and racial stereotyping. As one reviewer on GoodReads wrote, “This is a book to start conversations, in our classrooms and with each other. It’s a book to make you take a step back and look at bias in your own life. The power in this book lies in the stripped down simplicity-two boys, two views, one incident, which, through the honesty and realness of the characters who are dealing with complex issues of race, community, perceptions, stereotypes, and assumptions, is able to address a timely issue in a way teens will be able to relate to without feeling lectured at.”

When I read the book I knew I had something powerful, timely, and important in my hands that I needed to share with other teachers and students. This was the first book that I my students read for our Twitter Book Chat. Last night my students and I had the opportunity to talk about the book and tweet with author, Jason Reynolds. This is a dream opportunity for any teacher, to have her students talking about a book with the author in critical and reflective ways. I am so grateful to Jason for taking time to speak with my students.

Here are the discussion questions used for our All American Boys Twitter Book Chat:

Q1: We frequently see videos and news broadcasts about black people in America being intimidated, beaten, shot, and murdered by cops, one after the other after the other. How does All American Boys inform your knowledge of this? 

Q2: What surprised you and shocked you in the text? 

Q3:In the text, the boy’s basketball coach tells the team to “leave it at the door” — Rashid’s beating and hospitalization. Do schools and teachers have a responsibility to addressing these incident? Why or why not?

Q4: Is what happened to Rashad, Quinn’s problem? Should he notify the police about what he saw outside the market? Is Quinn racist?

Q5: What makes Rashid and Quinn genuine characters? What make you believe their stories, their choices, their reactions? 

Q6: How has reading this book made you more empathetic, a more compassionate human being?

Q7: What will you do differently after having read this book? How does it influence your responsibility as an Upstander? 

Q8: What does this book communicate about non violence, civil rights, and passive resistance?

Q9: Who’s story do you want to know more about? Should readers to know more about Paul’s story?

Q10: What questions do you have for the authors? 

Jason Reynolds @ILA15

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Students Share Insight on Using Twitter as a Classroom Tool

Recently, a local reporter from Fios news came to talk with my students about the use of twitter in the classroom as a learning tool. Here is the news report with my students talking about the benefits of utilizing twitter for learning.

http://www.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/1_tsxbmzj5/uiconf_id/8700151

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Give More HUGS: Building a Culture of Caring Through Collaborative PBL

Have you ever thought about getting students actively involved to promote literacy in the community and around the world? This past school year I partnered with the global nonprofit organization Give More HUGS  in a year long Project-Based Service Learning (PBSL) initiative. My partnership with Give More HUGS helped my students  to become advocates for quality education, civic engagement, creativity, collaboration, and social change. Students participated in multiple projects from twitter chats, book drives, and research projects throughout the school year with this amazing organization and its awesome team to promote literacy.

Give More HUGS is a 501(c)3 non profit organization  with a mission to provide students in need with school supplies, books with inspirational messages, art supplies, extracurricular activity scholarships, mentorships, and encouragement to inspire a lifelong love for learning, reading, and creativity.

Twitter Book Chats

My students read at least one outside reading book each marking period. Each quarter I offered one book title for students to read in a book club setting, which meets on Twitter after school hours to discuss the book. Moved by Malala Yousafzai’s campaign for equality education among all people and the collaboration with Give More HUGS, I selected Malala’s autobiography for the first Twitter book chat of the school year because of Malala’s positive impact on the world and the idea that anyone can make a difference to help make the world a better place. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick offers insight into Malala’s strength and courage to promote equality education for young women in Pakistan and around the world. The Twitter book chats helped engage students in authentic discussions about the book and share their responses, connections, and questions.

Students  participated in four Twitter Book Chats to address the complex issues raised in each book. Because Give More HUGS strives to promote equality education, I invited the HUGS Ambassadors and Give More HUGS members in the Twitter Book Chats because of the shared interests and goals of equality education for all. This experience gave students an opportunity to use social media to participate in a 21st century book club and social movement to make this world a better place.

Genius Hour  “Shark Tank” Project Pitches

Every Friday in my classroom is Genius Hour. Genius Hour in the classroom was inspired by Google’s 20% time, where employees at Google get is 20% of their time to work on a special project.  Once a week students have one class period to explore, learn, create, discover, and research a topic that interests them. The only conditions are that students choose a topic that is researchable and will “have a positive impact on the community,” no matter how big or small it may be.  At the end of each semester, students share what they have learned in a presentation of their choice and how their work has made an impact.

Once students selected their Genius Hour project, I required students to design an elevator pitch to explain their passion and project interests. Students took two weeks to craft their pitches.  I invited Give More HUGS founder and director, Chris McGilvery and a few of the HUGS Ambassadors into my classroom for students to present their Genius Hour elevator pitches in a “Shark Tank” style setting. Eight lucky projects were selected as “Brilliant Ideas” or “Social Change  Makers” by the HUGS representatives.  The eight “winners” were highlighted on the Give More HUGS blog and offered a wider audience to promote their social action Genius Projects.  You can Read more about this collaboration on the Give More HUGS blog.

Book Drive

Impressed by many of the projects students created, Chris encouraged students to participate in Give More HUGS as Ambassadors. Two students pursued that role and are official Ambassadors for GMH planning projects and raising awareness. One student in particular combined her Genius Hour project with GMH and organized a book drive throughout the school. She and a friend collected nearly 1,000 books during the month of May. Each book will be inscribed with a personal message and sent to schools and organizations that lack resources. In addition to the book drive, the students created campaign called S.P.A.R.K. (Spread Passion and Reading Knowledge)and designed tee shirts to raise awareness and money for schools in need. In designing the project my student stated, “We chose this project because we believe that books are a key learning tool and also to spread our love of learning. We both value our education and the opportunities we have.  We want to spread our passion for reading and learning to others.  We decided the best way to “ignite their spark” was to motivate them by giving them books.”

SPARK

Click here to purchase a t-shirt and support Give More HUGS.

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Twitter in the K 12 Classroom: A Collaborative Tool For Learning ISTE Webinar

As part of the ISTE Professional Learning Series I hosted a webinar on Twitter in the K 12 classroom. Below are the slides to my presentation. Here is a link to the archived webinar. I have compiled additional resources on a Google Doc Some people have requested to see the Parent Permission and Code of Conduct that I sent home for parents and students to sign before beginning the twitter book chats with my middle school students.

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Igniting #Genius, #Creativity, & #Passion Based Learning In the Classroom

This is my second year that I have incorporated Genius Hour into my middle school English classroom. Every Friday is dedicated to my students’ passion projects. This semester we embark on a Genius Hour project where students must build it, create it, or do something. To spark creativity, build community, and get students excited about genius hour students participate in a variety of STEM based challenges every other month. My students love these challenges and it is always fun to watch their creative thinking and problem solving skills unfold. Here are some of the STEM challenges that my students have completed so far this year.

1. Spaghetti Tower Challenge – Each group gets 20 pieces of raw spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and a marshmallow. Students are to build the highest, free standing structure that holds the marshmallow on the top of the tower.

2. Save Fred Challenge – Fred has been spending his summer boating on the great lakes.  However, he’s not too bright (Fred is a gummy worm).  He’s never learned how to swim, and he never wears his life preserver.  The worst has happened!  His boat has capsized and he’s stuck!  Fortunately, his life preserver is in the boat, but unfortunately he does not know how to reach it without falling off and drowning. Using a plastic cup to represent the boat and a gummy life saver to represent the life preserver, students must save Fred using only 4 paper clips.  Students may not touch Fred, the boat, or the life preserver directly with their hands.

3. Sink or Swim Challenge – Students create a boat using tin foil that will hold as many pennies as possible. The boat should float in the water with the pennies and not sink.

4. House Challenge – Students build a house using nothing but 2 sheets of paper, 2 band aids, two paperclips, and two sticks of gum.

Want to know more about Genius Hour?

Mark Your Calendars for Sunday 2/22 #ISTELitChat talking #geniushour with @joykirr 8:30 PM EST 

The awesome Joy Kirr, teacher and My Own Genius Hour blogger,  will be a guest facilitator discussing all things Genius Hour and Passion Projects. Joy facilitates #genius chats on Twitter and blogs extensively about igniting passion in the classroom. She has a wealth of resources regarding genius hour and we hope that you will join us for this twitter chat.

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#ISTELitChat Sunday October 19, 2014 @8 PM EST

This upcoming Sunday I will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the ISTE Literacy PLN as part of Connected Educator Month. Please join us as we discuss literacy, technology, and ISTE.  Below are the questions to facilitate the chat. We hope that you can join us for an interesting and resourceful conversation.

Q1: Introduce yourself, where you are from and your role in education.

Q2:. How do you define literacy?

Q3: What does literacy in the content areas mean to you?

Q4: What does literacy in the content areas look like in your classroom/school? Please include a grade level and subject area.

Q5: What are you “go to” tech tools to promote literacy in the content areas?

Q6: How do you see technology supporting literacy in your content areas classroom?

Q7: Where do you learn about and or find inspiration for literacy and technology?

Q8: How can ISTE’s Literacy PLN support your needs to meet the literacy and technology standards embedded throughout the Common Core Learning Standards?

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Twitter as Storytelling, Discussion, & Analysis Tool in the Classroom

It all began when I read a blog post on The Nerdy Book Club blog by young adult author James Preller in November 2013 on the power of story and how “stories are essential to our lives.”  I was so moved by the blog post, I immediately bought his book Bystander, a fictional story about bullying at one middle school in Long Island.  As a middle school teacher, this topic is pertinent to my teaching and my quest to promote empathy within school culture. As I devoured the book, I realized that I  wanted all my students to read Bystander and the power of its story as it relates to our school and culture where bullying is a daily occurrence.  Hence, I assigned Bystander as a required reading for my eighth grade English students for their outside reading requirement.  Along with reading the book, students were required to participate in four Twitter book chats after school hours to address the complex characters and issues raised in the book.

During the Twitter book discussions students shared their own stories, made connections, and critically addressed the issue of bullying in our school and society at large.  I was impressed by their honesty and keen awareness.  Everyone had a voice on Twitter and no one was able to hide during the discussions.  Students weren’t just answering the questions that I posed during the Twitter book chat but were also talking with each other in an online environment, supporting and responding to each other’s ideas. I noticed that students who might not talk to each other in class, face to face, were responding to each other online and offering constructive discussions piggy-backing on each other’s ideas. Positive communication was modeled throughout the Twitter discussions.

Students admitted that bullying is a huge problem in many schools across across the United States, and our own school is not immune. Social media sometimes becomes a means in which bullying takes place, but by facilitating the Twitter chats I wanted to promote Twitter as a social media tool in a responsible and educational manner.  Parents signed consent forms for their children to participate in the book chats.  My students were excited about the Twitter book discussions and have asked for more.

Twitter is one digital media tool that can be used effectively for discussing stories and the powerful impact they have on our lives. Twitter also allows space for students to critically discuss topics that are relevant to their lives and share stories,  images, pictures, and other links to meaningful texts that address the same topics.  Twitter is a tool to dissect stories and respond in a pedagogical setting. Through my experiences using Twitter in the classroom, I have been able to capture the “richness” of conversations and the “complexity of experiences” when sharing stories.

The next #RMSBystander Twitter Book chat will be Monday January 20, 2014 at 8:15 PM EST.  All are welcome to join.

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Throw Out the Journals: Twitter in the English Classroom

Don’t throw away your journal or composition books just yet! But Twitter is a great alternative for writing and reading comprehension in the classroom.  After a Twitter chat this past weekend with fellow educators, the discussion turned to how to use Twitter in the classroom.  As a middle school English teacher and daily Tweeter, I have slowly integrated Twitter into my classroom for checks for  understanding and various writing activities.  

I request that my students create Twitter accounts to use in my classroom for educational purposes if they already have a Twitter account.  Twitter is a tech tool that any teacher can use for content area teaching, checks for understanding, analysis and synthesis, and to promote positive digital citizenship.

Here are five ways to utilize Twitter in the English classroom:

1. 140 Character Micro Story or Poem. Twitter is a micro blog that allows 140 characters (punctuation and spaces included) or less to communicate in a tweet.  Hence, one needs to keep a tweet short and simple. 140 characters is all that one has.  I want my students write clearly and concisely, with little rambling and filler.  Twitter is great in the sense that one has to communicate his or her message effectively in so few words.  From a creative stand point, students can create 140 character stories or poems.

2. Exit Tickets & Quick Responses. Need a short summary of a key idea or concept.  Want to check for understanding. Have students tweet their responses to a writing prompt or question.  

3. Backchannel for Film Discussions. If the class is watching a movie in class students can use twitter to have a silent discussion during the film.  As students are watching the film version of a book read in class, students can tweet the similarities and differences between the two texts. This activity meets CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).

4. Book Discussions and Literature Circles. Last spring I had my students initiate their own book discussions about To Kill a Mockingbird and bring in the transcripts of the Twitter discussions.  I was so impressed by my students questions and reflections about the book.  This semester I am having my students engage in Twitter book club discussions (meeting once a week) with the book Bystander by James Preller (A must read for any middle school teacher). 

5. Be the Character. What would the main character say, do, or think?  How might they react?  Tweet the unspoken words or tweet from another character’s perspective.  You can do this with a fiction or non fiction text. Students can take on a persona and give voice to someone who has been silenced in the text.

To collaborate with other English teachers or gleen ideas on Twitter you can participate in the weekly #engchat discussion on Mondays at 7PM EST or Wednesdays at 7:30 PM EST participate in #tcrwp (Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project) twitter chat on topics related to literacy. 

 

 

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