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Archive for September, 2012

Facebook blocked in school

That is not surprise. I am guessing that most schools still block Facebook from use by both teachers and students. I’ll admit, some of the reasoning for this sounds good. In the teacher’s case, administrators don’t want teachers sitting at their desks updating their status while their students are filling out worksheets at their desks. For students, the reasoning is not usually time related as much as it is in a fear of student bullying. We’ve all heard the stories and know the danger.

The problem I have with policies that are written with these ideas in mind is that blocking Facebook is not going to solve these problems. Any teacher that is going to waste time on Facebook in the classroom is going to find another way to waste time if Facebook isn’t available. In all reality, that teacher is probably still updating pages and messing around on Facebook using a mobile device.

The same is true for students who are going to bully; they are still going to bully even if Facebook is blocked. If they aren’t using technology to bully, they are still cornering the skinny kid in the bathroom and taking away his lunch money, talking behind his back, and taking pictures that are sent via MMS.

I think that phone use is a good example of this. Almost all schools have some sort of mobile phone policy in place. Students are not to be using phones during class, or in passing periods, or anywhere during school hours. The policies vary, but there is one action that makes all schools similar; students are still using the mobile devices during school hours. They are texting and sending pictures and updating their Facebook status. This is happening in the halls, in the library, in the lunchroom, and in every single classroom. To think otherwise would unreasonable.

Historically, “banning” has never worked very well in any community or civilization. Instead, maybe we should teach principles of responsibility and respect. Sure, people are still going to do stupid things, but that’s going to happen anyway. Just think of what we could accomplish if we could devote more time working with a tool than trying to stop people from using it.

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This year I have decided to use Facebook as a means of communicating with students and parents outside of the classroom. Now, before you look at me with a shady eye, I am not communicating with students on a personal level, and I am not using my personal Facebook page. I would rather not get arrested or fired!

Instead, I have set  up page that is my dedicated “educational” Facebook. This page is still set up with my name, but I don’t use the personal wall at all. I have set three pages, one for each level that I teach, under the homepage. These are the pages I will use to communicate with students and parents as to what is going on within the classroom. So far, I have used the page mostly to post assignments. When a student is absent, I can now tell them to go to the page and get the assignment.

This brings up another aspect of the Facebook page. I am not actually posting assignments directly to the Facebook page. First, assignments are posted on my class blog. These are then pushed to the Facebook page. This might seem redundant, but I know that more students will see the Facebook pages on their mobile devices. However, posts on the blog will be accessible for those who do no have a mobile device.

Right now, this experiment is in the beginning stages. I am surprised at how few students have “liked” the page so far. There are getting to be more and more but not as many as I w0uld have imagined. My biggest success so far is that a parent of a student who lives out of state has liked the page to keep track of what her students is doing in class. I never thought of the page being used in that manner!

I’ll keep you updated on how this all pans out in the future.

 

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These are not my words. These are the words of a student in my class today. I gave the students the task of figuring out the anagram found within name of the band called Imagine Dragons.

As I walked around the room, one of the students commented on how hard the task was. I told her that it was a creative exercise to get their minds fired up. She told me that school had “stripped her of all creativity.”

It’s pretty sad when even the students know that their educational experience is not helping them learn how to be a better thinker!

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My Big Campus

This year, my school district adopted the Lightspeed web filter and bundled with it came My Big Campus. At first look, I was excited by all that it could do. Last year at a conference I attended, it was mentioned several times. I made big plans to put the app to use the first day of school, but as is usual with such plans, it didn’t happen.

I had some major problems with the app. One day when I went to log in, I couldn’t. The next day, I tried to log in again and succeeded. Things were looking great until I clicked on the admin button. With one click, I suddenly had access to all 480 or so pages of users for My Big Campus. Not only could I see who was using the app anywhere in the world, I could change their password.

That concerned me!

I was just getting ready to set up a bunch of student accounts, and then I saw that there was a security issue on the site. In my eyes, the whole thing was starting to look like a waste of time. To make things worse, I was blocked at my log in for about another week, before it started working again.

I am not saying that I am totally giving up the idea of using My Big Campus. It still looks like it would be worthwhile. However, I am a bit skeptical to put much time into it right now. I know lot of schools are using it, and most of what I have heard about the app is positive.

I would love to hear from anyone who  has used it, both the good and bad. Leave a few words for me in the comments. I look forward to seeing what experiences others have had with My Big Campus.

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With a new school year starting, teachers naturally make goals in hopes of becoming a more effective educator. With all of the talk about using technology in the classroom, many of these goals probably revolve around implementing tech into instruction. There are numerous ways to do this. Rather than try and cover them all in one  blog post, I thought I would make a list of what not to do with the technology. Don’t get me wrong, the activities I am going to list here are not necessarily bad, but I am not sure they constitute using technology to enhance instruction. A few of them might be considered torture.

1. Showing movies with the projector is not using technology effectively.

2. Using the interactive whiteboard just like you used to use the chalk board is not using technology effectively.

3. Having students print pictures from Google images to paste onto a poster is not using technology effectively.

4. Using PowerPoint or the document camera as a means for students to copy notes is not using technology effectively.

5. Having students copy notes from an overhead projector should be considered a crime and is definitely not an effective use of technology.

This is just a start. Let me know in the comments how tech should not be used in the classroom.

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