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Posts Tagged ‘students’

I’m reading a few different books simultaneously and two of them just converged. Both of the books are important on their own and have a lot to teach us. Both books are timely and relevant.

social LEADiaFirst, I’ve been reading Jennifer Casa-Todd’s Social LEADia with a small group of educators in my district. I’ve been inspired by this book for a while. I’m passionate about shifting the conversation around digital citizenship to digital leadership and Casa-Todd’s book outlines the steps for doing just that. So much of what we’ve focused upon in the past has been via scare tactics when teaching or introducing digital citizenship to adults and students. It’s time to focus on the positive ways we can use digital tools and social media to bring about change.

Common Sense Education is doing just that as they release updated digital citizenship lessons, so far for grades 3-8 with more coming.

Social LEADia provides clear examples of students who have raised their voices and brought about change in a variety of ways, whether for their schools, communities, or globally. The book also outlines how schools can start making the shift to share our stories, our passions, and our voices. And most importantly, those of our students.

say somethingThe other book I’ve read recently is Say Something, the newest amazing book by Peter H. Reynolds. This book is the follow-up to The Word Collector, which helped our students see the power of words and vocabulary in a positive light. In Say Something, Reynolds empowers students to use their voices, in a wide variety of ways, to speak up. Say something to help others know how you feel. Say something with your actions. It illustrates how their voices matter. One of my favorite pages says, “Keep saying it… and you may be surprised to find the whole world listening.” The wonderful illustration on that page features many, many birds. Thanks, Peter!

Digital tools provide the mechanism through which we can say something and become digital leaders. Both books strike a chord with me. Both books encourage all of us to use our voices to bring about change. How can we shift the thinking and empower our students? How do we encourage them to speak up and understand that their words and actions matter, and that THEY matter?

It starts with us, the educators. YOU can start by reading these books.

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I’ve had a few experiences lately where I’ve been so impressed with what’s happening at the primary level. By that, I mean grades K-2, but this is certainly prevalent at other levels as well.

I taught some courses this summer and had the privilege of working with teachers at all levels. Recently, teachers from two different courses, who teach at the primary level, have had things to share with me.

One course was all about integrating Google tools. During our week together, a few teachers and I got to talking about Twitter. Yes, not a Google tool, but still a powerful one. They wanted to hear more about how to use Twitter to make classroom connections. I continued the conversation with one teacher beyond our summer work. Last week, she came to visit one of our kindergarten classes, Sharon Davison‘s (@kkidsinvt), and watched the class use Twitter to share with other kindergarten classes (class account: @vermontkkids123). Our guest, a first grade teacher, also has explored the #1stchat hashtag and has lurked in a Twitter chat as well. She is overcome by the sheer numbers of primary educators that are out there sharing and connecting. Her visit to our school helped her get underway.

bloggingAnother summer course was about the integration of writing and digital tools. All of the participants in that one are primary teachers, plus one principal. Two of the teachers, who teach in our district but another school, have added blogging with their students to the vast array of things teachers are responsible for these days. They approached it systematically by paper-blogging and paper-commenting, leading up to using the technology for those tasks. The second grade teacher got things underway with her students and they blogged a few times and left one another comments. The teacher was thrilled and set up a future session with her colleague, who teaches first grade. Today, the second graders taught the first graders how to access and create their blog posts. I was invited to observe and help out. They didn’t need my help- these students were ALL engaged and on task. They all felt successful and the first posts by first graders were a huge hit.

I got back to my school and walked into a computer lab filled with a first/second grade class (multi-age). They also were blogging! The teacher was so excited at how well things were going, how easily the students were navigating Kidblog, and how many skills are embedded in the experience. She is eager to try to help more of her colleague see the light.

Finally, one of our third/fourth grade classes (multi-age) has been participating in the Global Read Aloud author study of Peter Reynolds’ books. They’ve been blogging about his books and including some amazing reflections. They have also learned a lot about commenting – from penny comments to dollar comments, as well as highway and dead-end comments. The teacher used the Global Read Aloud hashtag #grapeter to share a set of recent posts about Peter’s books . What came next was the biggest surprise of all; Peter Reynolds commented on her students’ posts! the students and the teacher were jumping up and down with excitement. What a fabulous way to understand the power of a larger audience.

It’s been great to have more and more positive examples of how our younger students can and do achieve a lot with digital tools.

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