As I read my book, 21st CENTURY SKILLS I was very impressed with the examples of students that made a difference in their communities around the world. From the students in Sydney who uploaded data to track climate change trends, to the London students who prepared a plan to put a traffic light at a dangerous intersection near their school, these students found practical ways to bring about change. The Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students at a school for peace in Israel created a video sharing their ideas for peace in the Middle East. The one example that touched me the most was students in a Palo Alto robotics class that researched the needs of quadriplegics and those with mobility challenges. It was such a seamless blend of compassion, empathy, and service to mankind.
I had just visited with my 7th graders about the skills necessary to implement our 1:1 program next fall. They had a great grasp of what they needed to learn to be successful. It occurred to me that even basic concepts with a computer needed to be mastered to take the next step toward digital citizenship. As we progress with this venture, it will be interesting to see how the students can take these skills and apply them globally.
Have you ever been to a concert or sports event where you were invited to text or Tweet messages to a public screen?
Wiffiti is a company out of Boston whose technology allows anyone, from corporate sponsors to teachers to the average Joe Internet User, to create a public wall for the purpose of gathering text and Tweet “graffiti”.
How is this useful in a classroom setting?
My level 1 Spanish students have been reading a book in which the main character has to make a choice between following his parents’ rules or doing what he wants while they are away. I wanted the kids to discuss the pros and cons and take a side, in Spanish.
Without technology, this is just a discussion and some kids might tune it out, but when I instructed kids to take out their phones (which most of them had and were thrilled to be asked to use them in class) and had them text their advice to the character, they were on board immediately. And on the board – literally – immediately! In seconds, their messages started popping up on the SmartBoard for all to see.
It was fun to see what they wrote, and to see the auto-namer assign them all such funny names, like CinnamonToucan, and SteelSeahorse.
Most of them stuck to the assignment but a few did get carried away with the excitement of being able to communicate something and have everyone see it… without teacher clearance.
Which is EXACTLY why I welcome this type of activity, because it provides an opportunity for teachers to get involved with how students represent themselves online. Their digital expression of themselves is often private, but when they do this in the classroom, the teacher can moderate the discussion. Which I did.
“Perdón, who is MintParrot8?” A boy grins smugly from the back of the room. I use his post as a negative example, and he quickly sends a new message which follows the assignment.
We’ll continue to build on that success with other projects. I’ll send an update next time we use it. Check it out!