Play

Three weeks ago, I tried giving a quiz to my class using a website called Kahoot! We had been studying the beginning of the Cold War. I co-teach two of my World History class periods with another teacher and she said that the students had loved doing a Kahoot the previous quarter!

My colleague and I created a Kahoot! Here’s the quiz. I found myself terribly stressed giving this quiz using Kahoot! There were all these moving parts going on while the students typed in the quiz code into their cell phones or iPads. Many of us had to wait for others in order to start. I set each question at 20 seconds. Sometime 20 seconds was enough and sometimes it was just right. Many of the students really did enjoy taking a quiz in this setting because it is competitive and more of a game. I questioned the entire day why I had agreed to this because it made me stressed. Yes, it is a fun way to use technology but I wondered if they really learned and I could not really evaluate if they knew the answers to the questions.

I saw the Kahoot as a teaching failure. I had expected too much. I think in the future that it is a great way to review knowledge in a fun way. After I gave the Kahoot for a third time and the school day ended, I realized that I should have just relaxed and acknowledged that I had given it a try. I failed in the sense that I had expected it to be a quiz when in fact it is more of a fun, interactive way to review information.

 

Mediated Writing

The Arab Spring
For our Mediated Writing assignment in #BEDUC476 I chose to create a page about the Arab Spring uprisings that took place across North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. In my World History classes, our final unit or region will be learning about the Middle East & North Africa (MENA). I created this page with a high school audience in mind. I wanted to present the causes (which I am constantly researching), the countries where Arab Spring revolutions took place and finally what has happened & is happening in each of these countries today.

I really enjoyed this assignment and could have spent several more hours completing my page because the topic interests me so much. The idea of a mediated writing piece is to be able to insert images, website links and have a moving page which is non-linear and flows yet is still easy to read. Normal news articles or websites are read in a linear fashion (from top to bottom). I hope to finish this page and have all of the countries completed by May 2017. I will ask my students to read this piece. Some time before the end of the school year, I plan to assign a mediated writing assignment. You can create a mediated writing piece on Sway (Microsoft) or Spark (Adobe). Both websites are free! Have fun! Let me know in the comments section below if you see anything that I could improve on my Spark page? Also comment below if you assign a mediated writing piece and let me know how it goes?

BSU Student Assembly & Digital Civic Engagement

This past week, we had two readings regarding youth participation online engagement for civil rights issues. Christina Evans wrote in The Nuts and Bolts of Digital Civic Imagination how youth participatory civic engagement, the authors introduced her idea of “digital civic imagination” has not yet been realized in part due to the lack of teaching such skills in the classroom. I feel that many young adults (middle & high school students) are aware of social justice issues, #Blacklivesmatter, and the current immigration fears. They read about these issues online by clicking on links in their Social Media feeds, news (sometimes) and by looking terms and ideas up when they hear about issues from their peers or in the classroom. Many of the skills that could enable youth engagement and discourse in order to work towards positive solutions are skills that we have been learning in BEDUC 476: creating a strong network on Twitter, reading blogs and creating content such as videos and blogs.

I am a recent addition to the staff at a high school in the Shoreline School District which is geographically located just “on top” of Seattle Public Schools (Seattle, WA). Although the student population is not as diverse as those in Seattle public high schools, there is definitely an increasingly diverse student body at our school. With a very noticeably non-diverse teaching staff we are nevertheless attempting to push forward with equity and diversity. One example is the attempt to move away from Eurocentric Social Studies curriculum in our World History courses.

Apart from the classroom and curriculum, I am astounded by the BSU (Black Student Union) and the assembly they put on for the school last Thurs (2/16) and Friday (2/17) which is an annual tradition in February for the African-American History Month. These students worked tirelessly on the assembly and the students were very impressed. The BSU incorporated the following topics throughout the assembly: microagressions, Euro-centrism, White Privilege, being an Ally, and Intersectionality. The assembly included the following: a video following an African-American student titled “Day in the Life”, a poem read by four students, slides defining their topics, an act where eight students walked on stage one by one reading names of innocent African-Americans who lost their lives due to unjust police brutality, a student singing the black national anthem and all throughout the presenters asked students to try and see from multiple perspectives if they were not Black, Latino, Muslim, or LBGTQ. I was blown away! I will end by posting a clip from the Step teams performance which was a favorite. Before they performed, BSU explained that Step routines are historically done in sororities and started in South Africa where drums were outlawed. This performance was live and not digital, but I only hope that these amazing students never stop in their pursuit to open eyes and spread the message of love for all. I left with so many ideas and hopes of helping all of my students find their voices just as the BSU has done.

Click to see BSU Step Perform at Assembly

Weekly Play in Class

This week, my four sections of World History started a unit on Africa. I had two goals at the beginning of class (each class period is a 100 minute block period). The first goal was to activate prior knowledge. I asked students to write in their notebooks a KWL chart. We compiled a class list of what we know, the K column and a list of what we want to know, the W chart.

Next, I wanted to discuss our personal Perceptions. I described perceptions and bias as a collection of images, activities and learning that begins at birth that shapes our cultural filters as learners. An example would be that as children, many of us watched the disney movie The Lion King. Many of us imagine these large and “exotic” animals such as lions when we think of the word Africa thanks to The Lion King and/or visits to our local zoos. Many of us have never stepped on African soil. Although we want to learn more about the people who live on the continent and live within recently independent nations, we are coming into this unit with a lot of perceptions.

To compose a class visual of our perceptions, students were asked to pull out their iPads. They created a profile and downloaded the Padlet app. Some of the students took out their phones. Next, they needed to navigate to the Padlet page that I had set up for each class period. Here is an image of our Padlet from 1st period.

Made with Padlet

I say that this was an exercise in Play because many variables were new to us. We were kind of experimenting. I did not present a ton of new content in this activity but instead asked students to participate in finding out our perceptions that we have in our data systems as learners when we hear the word Africa.

I am excited to try out other apps in class in the future. Padlet was fun but it also presented a few challenges. Many students struggle to type on Padlet (either their iPad was not cooperating or they were not prepared). My goofy sophomore students, who know that they are not receiving a grade for this assignment, sometimes typed onto our Padlet goofy things or images. I think that it is fun to collaborate, work together and use our iPads but I am not quite sure in what capacities the Padlet will serve as a useful tool in my future course lessons?

Technology Improves Access to Relative Content

When I first started teaching in 2007, we used desktop computers, email and programs (for grading, attendance and school documents) however the true access to technology like we have today was not present. Most teachers did not have smartphones and without laptop computers, like many teachers use today, the work that I took home was papers to grade and lessons to plan. Today, in 2017, I can access everything from my work laptop anytime and anyplace. I can ask a question to my colleague at any time through email, evaluate curriculum from other teachers around the country but the downside is that all of the work that I do at school can also come home with me.

In the book Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman that we have been reading in class (B EDUC 476), in chapter 7, the authors discuss “Networked Work”. I agree with what these authors wrote and had to say regarding networks in our daily lives, families and in the workplace. Communication between educators has become so infinite. Even since I have started this graduate course, I have discovered so many individuals on Twitter, blogs and websites that I could never have enough time to tap into all the available resources to enhance my lessons in the classroom and my job as a teacher.

I still find that I learn a tremendous amount from just conversing with other teachers in my school. My students had finished learning about WWII in their World History class when I started working as their teacher this past week, beginning 2nd semester. A fellow World History teacher recommended this incredible data-based documentary to me called The Fallen of World War II. I had my students watch this as a transition piece from WWII to the Cold War. Once they finished watching the video, I asked how it made them feel? There are no people, no actors and it is not a traditional documentary. The video is all data visual info-graphics yet after watching it, it makes you truly understand the destruction of WWII, and feel moved or sad about the number of lives that were lost.

In order to show this to my class, I used technology. However, I discovered this amazing documentary through word of mouth. As Rainie and Wellman wrote in their book Networked, “The success of collaboration in the network operating system often depends on a delicate balance of computer networks and human networks that provide the trust and incentives to share information and knowledge” (p. 194). I fully agree with this interesting balance of using computers in the workplace to enhance our ability to organize, display information, access knowledge and overall work better as teachers, however we can never fully replace the camaraderie, the friendships and the personal networking that takes place between educators in schools face to face.