Today, with increased focus on use of technology for expression and content creation, traditional definitions of reading, writing, and communication are being redefined to include new digital literacies. Multimodal literacies--the integration of multiple forms of communication and expression--have the potential to transform the meaning of a student’s work. With these digital tools, students can demonstrate their ability to understand, interpret, and discuss by using multiple texts across multiple contexts and multiple modes. Faced with detailed and complex texts across all areas of the curriculum, students must master the ability to read and write like scientists, historians, mathematicians, and world citizens. In an increasingly global and technologically based world that prioritizes effective communication skills, these skills all are critical for the future success of an individual.
Digital tools allow for a transformation of the learning experience and can expand the scope of knowledge in education. These new technologies allow students to engage in all forms of communication—reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and alone have the power to encourage inquiry, critical analysis, and content area literacy. However, when digital tools are combined, the possibilities for learning can be exponential. Here are some ways to combine digital literacy tools in the classroom.
Periscope + Nearpod
• Periscope allows users to broadcast live video with their phones or other devices to connect to the world https://www.periscope.tv
• Nearpod allows users to create interactive presentations that are fun and engaging; learning can be assessed in real-time https://www.nearpod.com
• Perisciope + Nearpod: You can use interactive format of Periscope to connect to the world in a discussion with global classrooms, students, and educators. In your "scope," share your Nearpod presentation and viewers can follow along on their own devices. With interactive features, such as polls, multiple choice questions, and 360Cities Virtual Field Trips, you can have meaningful interactions and real time feedback throughout your presentation. Interested in learning how to combine these two great digital tools? Check out this Nearpod presentation as we take you step-by-step through the process! Also, be sure to use Katch.Me to store your "scope" for replaying in the future!
Skype + Padlet
• Skype offers free videoconferencing for classrooms to connect and chat online. www.skype.com
• Padlet provides a virtual cork board for organizing practically anything, including photos, videos, links, documents, and notes! www.padlet.com
• Skype + Padlet: The possibilities are endless when combining Skype and Padlet during collaboration sessions. For instance, during a Mystery Skype session, students could work together on a Padlet to place clues and answers to help find the location of the other class. Other ideas to use Skype and Padlet together is for student collaboration on a global project, teacher sharing during a videoconferenced professional development session, and student back channeling during a Skype session with an industry expert, notable author, or global leader. Here is an example of a Padlet created during an EdCamp Global session entitled "Go Digital" with Stephan Hughes. In this session, he shared from his location in Rio de Janeiro with an international audience of educators. Teachers and classrooms from around the world were able to add comments and questions throughout his session, and also before and after. http://padlet.com/watstefsmaydov/GoDigital
YouTube + EdPuzzle
• YouTube hosts user-generated videos. www.youtube.com
• EdPuzzle allow teachers to customize videos for use in the classroom www.edpuzzle.com
• YouTube + EdPuzzle: One of my favorite new digital tools is EdPuzzle. EdPuzzle allows teachers to customize videos from the Internet, such as YouTube videos, with features such as Crop (to cut portions of a video), Audio Track (overlay audio over the entire clip), Audio Notes (insert comments to extend the concepts and ideas), and Quiz (add open ended questions, multiple choice questions, and comments to the video clip to assess learning and increase engagement). Here is an example where I took a YouTube video of a podcast lecture with Eoin Lenihan of Germany that is 38 min and 26 seconds and cut it into a clip that is now just over 2 minutes. I add audio notes to interact with you as an audience member and include several questions. You will see how the possibilities for use in the classroom are great when combining EdPuzzle with YouTube for learning!
Sharpening pencils to a perfect point. Checking the spelling of each student’s name to ensure every one is correct. Carefully coloring in the lines of a welcome sign to invite students to their new classroom; a classroom that for students will be a place all new where memories will be made, friendships developed, and life lessons learned. In these beginning weeks of the school year, teachers take care to consider small details; details that that when considered in sum create the experience of “school” in a child’s world. With intentional and thoughtful focus on the needs of each individual student, teachers set out to create a culture of their class. And, in the earliest hours of the first day of the new school year, teachers and students together begin to form the community of their classroom.
In recent days, though faced with the hustle and bustle of back-to-school, I was inspired to reflect on the impact of teaching small. A video launched with the Remind #teachsmall campaign truly demonstrated for me so beautifully the lasting effects of dedicating efforts to the little things when building a culture with students: http://bit.ly/teachsmall_blog Soon, I was considering how so many of today’s teachers are working to extend this community to include a critical member of the learning team: the parent! In small, yet meaningful ways, classroom teachers are beginning the year by fostering #teachsmall moments to welcome parents into the conversation of “school” and learning. Here are some ideas for finding ways to bring #teachsmall to the parents of your classroom.
Back-to-School “Parent-Led” Conferences
Often, first conversations with parents are procedural. Instead of waiting for back-to-school nights, start your relationship with your new parents during Week 1 by offering time to parents to schedule and join you for a 20-minute “Parent-Led Conference.” As opposed to traditional conferences where teachers lead the discussion, encourage parents to share any thoughts, dreams, and concerns for their child. Questions such as “What motivates your child?” and “How can I best support your child’s life passions?” can allow teachers to learn about children through the lens of a parent. More, it is a small way teachers can show that they sincerely care about the interests and needs of the family.
Learn the Names of Your Classroom Parents
A name is a special thing. Teachers understand the importance of referring to students by name and constantly seek out ways to showcase the names of students both in class discussions and also in the classroom environment. By taking time to learn and use parent names, teachers demonstrate that they are invested in parents and that they are treasured members of the classroom community.
Proclaim a Vision of “Parents as Partners”
“Parents as Partners.” Make it your parent/teacher motto. Brand it. Market it. And represent it. Sign messages and notes home as “Your School Partner.” Thank parents personally for their partnership each time you see them. Dedicate a bulletin board to parents and post announcements or exciting updates that are just for them! “Parents as Partners!” Simple, yet so significant!
Sharing of Stories
A common feature of a community is the sharing of stories. Celebrate cultures, interests, or unique talents of parents by inviting them to join for a class discussion. Interested parents that are unable to visit in person can join via videoconferencing with tools such as Skype or Google Hangout. Another idea: develop a Mystery Reader program; guest parents can surprise students and join to share their favorite read aloud story. Finally, consider organizing a parent/student/teacher book club to meet throughout the year. This can demonstrate the importance of reading together and sharing together.
Share Messages of Small Moments
Each day in a classroom is filled with special, small moments of greatness. Noticing that a student always stops to smell the flowers, witnessing a much needed learning breakthrough, seeing an apprehensive student bravely try something new for the first time. Teachers have front row seats for so many small, defining, "star of the show" moments such as these. Showcase, share the positive, and send a message to parents by using the Remind tool. “Just wanted to share…” messages can brighten days and help parents be a part of the community of a class. Because, as we all know, moments like these are too good not to share and celebrate!
As classroom communities of teachers, students, and parents embark on a new school year, we celebrate the moments that are small, yet defining and impactful. The difference-making little things that are extraordinary…and anything but ordinary.
Be sure to share your #teachsmall stories on Twitter and Facebook, and in your schools. To read more about this special initiative and Remind as a tool for connecting the community of your classroom, visit: http://bit.ly/teachsmall_blog.