April 20

Social Media in the Classroom Volume 3

I love blogs!  I can remember my grandmother and mother poring over magazines when I was a young girl.  They gathered ideas about family living, home decorating, cooking, and so much more.  Today, I use blogs in much the same fashion.  I look for ideas and gather inspiration.  There are blogs I follow and can hardly wait to read each and every day.  There are blogs that I follow and save to read at my leisure.  There are blogs that I only check in and read every now and again.  The biggest point is, I am a blog reader with passion!

Obviously I am a believer in blogging as a writer as well.  I keep this blog as a way of sharing my education-focused ideas.  I keep a personal blog for sharing family events and ideas.  I keep a recipe blog for sharing tried and true recipes.  Soon, I’ll be joining colleagues as we keep an edtech blog for sharing educational technology tips, ideas, and resources.

There are all sorts of reasons for expecting students to blog.  First and foremost is that it improves student writing.  A quick search using Blogging in the Classroom will bring a multiplicity of resources documenting the value of blogging for student learning.  So, I won’t bore you with those here.

There are loads of platforms for blogging as well.  An easy one is to use a Google Site within Google Apps for Education.  It is free and students can share their posts and comment and reply in an authentic manner.  I’m all about free and that suits most classroom needs!

Mrs. Yollis Class Blog has a wonderful video which encourages students to learn how to comment effectively.  Plus, it is a fabulous example of young students writing and finding meaning in what they have to say.

I encourage you to integrate blogging into your classroom because it is one of the best ways to get students writing and thinking and communicating that improves their skills and increases their knowledge.  It is just simply one of the best forms of social media participation that was ever used for student learning!

Blog on!

April 20

Social Media in the Classroom (Volume 2)

Yesterday I got up on my soapbox for a bit on the topic of social media and how I think it is important to embrace it and put it to work in the classroom.  Today I’d like to share a couple of ideas about how to put social media that is literally at our fingertips to work as a tool in our classroom.

In her post, Social Media in the Classroom, Lani Aquino mentions that  she ‘sat up and took notice’ when she heard the statement, “We’re raising children and we don’t know what’s coming.”  Aquino continues by saying, “Social media is a key component to the world and the workforce, and it’s literally at our fingertips.  While we may not know what’s next, it’s important that we integrate the now today.”  I, for one, wholeheartedly agree and hope this post serves as inspiration for you to give integrating social media into the classroom a try.

First, let’s look at a popular social media platform, Twitter.  There are a plethora of uses for Twitter in education.  Many teachers use it to develop a PLN.  There are edchats to join and innovative and wise teachers to follow as a means of getting ideas and improving the craft of teaching.  Lots of teachers use Twitter as a means for communicating with students.  I see teachers posting announcements and reminders for students and their family.  There are posts about upcoming online study sessions or tests.  There are posts encouraging students to focus on projects and remind them of due dates.  A British literature teacher I know recently used Twitter as a means to share Shakespearean quotes.  Another used it as a means to promote vocabulary or terminology learning by Tweeting out various definitions or descriptions and students came to class the next day with a list of terms.  A third effective use of Twitter was when a teacher Tweeted out recommended resources for students who were working on a research topic.  So, this form of social media is a wonderful communication tool for the classroom.

Why not take the Twitter format and push it a bit?  Why not take that concept of offering resources for a common topic and push it a bit further?  A teacher might Tweet out a series of resources.  Students would be expected read and analyze the information found in a specified number of the resources.  Then, when class convenes, students could be expected to contribute to a class discussion evaluating the resources and narrowing them down to the top five or top three most reliable and informative.  The same concept could be turned into a writing exercise where students craft a written argumentative work rather than having an oral discussion.  Perhaps students could choose two of the resources and create a comparative infographic evaluating them.  Using a similar concept, the teacher might Tweet out resources and expect students to formulate an opinion on a controversial topic based upon their research and create a visual presentation documenting their stance.  Instead of providing the resources, keywords for searching various search platforms might also be Tweeted out.

Used as a vocabulary building tool, students might be expected to unscramble anagrams, contribute to a list of synonyms, or define terms.  Students could be expected to use the character limit of a Twitter post as a guide for writing a sentence using vocabulary terms.  This same format could be used to practice various sentence structures and improve grammar skills when held accountable for punctuation.

When the character limit is used as a format, Twitter could be a valuable summarizing tool for an assigned reading.  Students might also be expected to summarize the learning which took place in class as an exit ticket.  Students might post quotes from an outside reading book which defines a particular character or important historical figure.

Students might create a collaborative poem with each student contributing 140 character lines.  They might also write a collaborative narrative describing a science experiment, historical event, or a common reading assignment.  This short format would also be an excellent way for students to write a review of the book they just read or to provided feedback to a peer’s video.

Of course, there are the obvious ways of integrating Twitter such as role play by having students create a Twitter stream that a historical person or a book character might have posted.  Using Twitter posts as a means for sharing notes is another obvious use.  Reviewing is extended beyond the classroom when potential test questions are Tweeted out and students work to answer them as a study guide.

I usually struggle with suggestions for math teachers but using Twitter to post math problems is a great idea!  It is also a great way to get students to explain their mathematical computation work.

Using the microblog conditions, students learn to be concise, use precise language, and share publicly.  The concept of Twitter also might serve to motivate and engage students – as a spark for learning.  Why not use Twitter – or at least its format – as a tool for your classroom?

April 18

Social Media in the Classroom

No matter your age or your interests, social media has infiltrated your life.  Most of the students in our classroom don’t know a time when social media wasn’t a part of life.  So, when we are mapping out lessons and communicating with students, we have to be mindful of social media.

I recently read a quick post entitled Social Media in the Classroom and it has provided fodder for lots of thought on my part.  First, I strongly object and disagree with the subheading which states

“Teaching the tools at your students’ fingertips today will prepare them for what’s to come in the future.”

I don’t think teachers are required to teach students to use most tools which might be used for participating in social media.  Instead, I think we teach students things like digital citizenship and communication skills and strategies which employ those tools.  I think we as educators need to continue to focus on the content and simply integrate the tools into the curriculum.  Oh, we may need to throw in a mini-lesson here and there with things like how to set margins to make use of white space or how to indent to indicate a change in dialogue or focus but when have we not been charged to teach that sort of thing?  I seem to recall that Miss Moore encouraged me to use my index finger as a guide for how to indent the first sentence of my paragraph when I was using tablet paper and a fat number two pencil as my tools!

Beyond that first statement, however, there is a vast amount of importance which is brought to light with that article, though.  We really don’t know what is coming!  I dare say that Miss Moore had no idea I would be looking into a camera and talking to an author all the way across the country as I participated in a Skype session with a book author along with a group of middle school students.  I think she would probably behave much like the elementary students who exclaimed in excitement and reached out to touch marine life when participating in a Google Expedition, a couple of weeks ago, too.  I’m sure she would have been surprised to peer through goggles in a cardboard box and turn around to see marine life all around her visual scope.  I could come up with example after example that would probably knock the socks off Miss Moore, my third grade teacher, when it comes to advancements that have come along and are readily available for students today.  So, if Miss Moore would be surprised today, just imagine the surprises we might have ahead of us when it comes to the future for our students!

We must sit up and take notice and be aware of what is here and now and what is possible for the future.  This came back to me personally just this past fall.  My daughter was shocked and concerned that her third-grade daughter was going to be expected to use a computer to craft an essay response for a state-mandated assessment.  Oh, she wasn’t so much worried about my granddaughter’s creativity and imagination and writing skills.  She had never worried about my granddaughter’s capabilities with technology before.  You see, they are tablet and iPod folks and are accustomed to watching videos, playing games, and even participating in Google Hangouts with me across the miles.  My daughter’s concern was that my granddaughter might not have the mouse skills she needed or the touchpad skills she needed for something simple like scrolling or clicking on a certain area.  Her children have touch screen skills but not those kinds of skills.  So, a simple gift of a Chromebook and wireless mouse and about fifteen minutes of instruction and not only was the third-gradeer proficient but so was the first-grader!

I’ll be posting more about what I think are the other important points in the afore-mentioned post later this week but for today, I just wanted to offer the concept that social media is an important part of our world today and we do need to embrace it in our classroom.  If we don’t, we will be short-changing our students.  I hope to share some ideas for ways to embrace social media this week and I hope you will check back!

April 14

Removing Questions

Really, questions are a big part of my profession.

In fact, without questions, there would really be no education, right?

I was prompted to think of my time in the classroom when noticed a recent blog post’s title: 5 Questions to Remove from Classrooms.  The number one question I wanted eliminated from my classroom was…drumroll, please!

“Did we do anything yesterday when I wasn’t here?”

I cannot think of a single question which irritated me more!  I always wanted to look at the student and say, “REALLY? Do you think the world stops turning for everybody else when you are not in their presence?”

But I never did.

I did, however, sometimes tell the student in a joking manner that we did nothing but sit around and eat bon-bons and pine our hearts away missing him/her.

I think that had the same impact.

It seems that the number one suggestion I see these days when it comes to questioning is that when a teacher poses a question for students, the answer should not be Googleable.  In today’s information age, the only reason we should pose a Googleable question is when we plan to follow up with a question that is not simply something with an answer that can be regurgitated after a search.  We all have information at our fingertips and it is the norm to simply pause and search for an answer.  Even my elementary-school-aged grandchildren suggest or practice searching for answers using Google.

I know that there is an app for most any task we repeatedly perform in our daily lives.  Yet, if we are relying on an app as a source for learning instead of as a tool for reporting information or creating a product, is what we are expecting from students really worth our time and their effort?  I really think that an app question should be more like this, “What sort of things do I need to make the app I’m creating do for the end user?”

Another question that comes to my mind that I worked hard to eliminate when I was a classroom teacher is, “Is this what you are looking for?” or “Is this the way you want it?” I think it is a derivative of number five in the aforementioned blog post.  If an assignment is simply something to please the teacher, the assignment is w-a-y off!  We should be crafting our assignments so that students see a purpose and have a broader audience.

I learned early on that when students have input toward creating a grading rubric or checklist, they were far more intense than I was with expectations.  I often would start off the rubric creation by sharing a few criterion and asking students to contribute others.  Sometimes I would leave off something simplistic and obvious just to see if the students notice – and if they didn’t I would quickly ‘think’ of it and add it in.  So, offering ownership in the expectations is one way to eliminate teacher dependency, for certain.

Providing peer collaboration and peer feedback is another simple way to broaden the audience and increase the level of pride in ownership for students.  For some reason, students protect their reputation and value one another’s feedback immensely.  But then, don’t we all?

I once worked at a school where community members and business representatives took part in providing feedback to a project each student was required to complete.  This certainly broadened the audience but it also provided stepping stones for students and sometimes would lead to an internship or a job after graduation.  It also encouraged a level of personal interest and special consideration for the quality of work.

There is value in students realizing that they should please the teacher because at some point a student will probably have to please the boss or supervisor with his/her work.  So, we cannot completely forget to teach students that element.  There is a fine line for that, though, isn’t there?  We don’t want to squelch creativity and individuality to the point of making a cookie cutter society now do we?

Ah, questions!  The propel us forward but they might also hold us back if we don’t use the best format and words when we are posing them.

April 13


I worked elbow-to-elbow with a teacher today refining a lesson that his students were completing in his classes.  It was a two-part lesson.  It required lots of reading.  It required lots of writing.  It required lots of thinking.  The teacher gave me loads of information about what his students were doing and his expectations and how his expectations were being met.  Then, he asked me a question and used terms no teacher has asked me before…but more about that later.

This is a teacher with whom I have worked elbow-to-elbow for at least four years.  Many times as I left his classoom, I was frustrated.  Many times as I left his classroom, I was asking myself what more should I do to nudge this teacher forward.  Many times as I left his classroom, I was wondering how I could better get him to move beyond a feeding and regurgitation of facts and information sort of lesson.  Now, to be fair, each year I have seen progress with this teacher and growth with him and his students as well.  But today, he asked me this question and I was a little bit surprised.

Maybe I have just reached that stage in my career.  You see, earlier this week I worked elbow-to-elbow with an assistant administrator at a school and he asked me a very similar question.  Then, later in the day he searched me out and we had another brief elbow-to-elbow work session.  Earlier we had been analyzing one of his teacher’s lessons and the latter meeting was to analyze a projection statement for his school in which he was deeply enmeshed.  At the end of our afternoon session, this assistant administator confirmed that I would be challenged to answer questions from him again.

In answer to the questions that both these gentlemen have posed to me, I think I can safely say that we as educators need to take a more reflective approach to what we are doing.  We need to stop and think and analyze what we are doing with our students and examine whether what we are doing is what we value and meets our intentions.  I stumbled upon a post today describing how great teacher candidates interview differently and linked were a set of questions the author actually claims work, when digging deep to find the best teachers.  My question is, why can’t we pose similar questions to teachers who are already in the classroom as a means of nudging them forward and moving them beyond where they now stand in their practice?

I think a wonderful way to become a better teacher is to reflect and make adjustments.  So, how would you answer these questions?

  • Do you still have a passion for your subject matter?  How would an observer recognize that in your classroom?
  • Describe how technology plays a role in student learning in your classroom?  How are students using the tools available to demonstrate their knowledge and skills?  How are they using technology to raise awareness, start conversations, change minds, drive change, or make a difference in the world?
  • What are your top two purposes for taking grades?  What are you measuring with your assignments?  How are you measuring it?
  • How and when do you provide feedback to your students?  How do you embed formative assessment and quality instruction at the same time?
  • In what ways do you differentiate instruction?  What are the differences in student outcome?
  • What was the best question you asked students during your last lesson?  What was the best question your students asked during that lesson?
  • Describe a timeline of your class broken into five-minute increments.  Which was the most important five-minute increment?
  • What three words would your students use to describe you?  What three words would they use to describe your class?
  • What have you read or studied recently that led to change in your classroom?  What have you listened to or watched recently that led to change in your classroom?  Who is an educator that you have discussed your teaching practice with lately?  Who are your online contacts for improving your instruction?
  • In what different ways have you communicated with parents during he past month?
  • What is your personal goal as an educator when you begin to plan your next lesson?  How will you measure your success rate?

Maybe it is just that time of year but I think an exceptional teacher is one who is always reflecting and using similar questions to those on my list as a way of improving craft, expertise, and effectiveness – and let’s face it, we all should strive to be exceptional.  Asking questions is important.  Yet, how we ask questions makes a big difference.  Are we asking questions to stand still or move forward?  I certainly hope we are asking questions to move forward – especially at this time of the year when our enthusiasm sometimes wanes.

Oh, the question I was asked today?  The terminology this teacher used that no teacher has ever used before?  “Now that we are near the end of our collaborative time this year, what, in your expert opinion, would you encourage me to work on to improve my game for next year?”

April 11

Doodling Sparks Learning

Did you notice the Google Doodle yesterday?  I thought it looked so springy and fresh and I noticed the sitar because my granddaughter, Lillie, created a musical instrument for her science class this week.

Lillie instrument

Here is a grainy cell phone photo of Lillie with her guitar.

Lillie was quite pleased and took it to school to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for her classmates.  Most of the time when the Google Doodle pops up, I feel like I’m just too busy to see what is going on with it and I just enter my search info and move on.  I decided that I should check out the Google Doodle with the sitar this week, though.  Did you see it?

Sitar Google Doodlevia

The read was quite interesting.  I learned all about Pandit Ravi Shankar who introduced the Beatles to the sitar.  At the bottom of the article is a cool infographic which gives a brief outline of the history of Google Doodles.  The top of it looks like the image below but I encourage you to scroll to the bottom of the afore-linked article and read the whole thing.

doodle timeline

Being the nerd that I am, I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I also dug in a bit and went to the Google Doodles webpage.  There were many that I had never paid one bit of attention to and didn’t even recall.  Those things are really cool, though!

You also might want to go to The History of Doodles where you can learn where the idea for Doodles came from and who designs the Doodles and how many doodles have been created.  You can also go to the Doodle 4 Google link and see the 2015 contest winners.

What else held my fascination for all this doodling?  Well, I have seen my friend Andi do some beginning sketchnoting but that is another story for another day.

andi's sketchnotes

The topic became one of extreme fascination and I felt much like a foxhound sniffing around for a pesky fox after a bit.  Isn’t that really the way learning should be, though?  Shouldn’t we have something that sparks our interest and then something else that urges us onward?  Reading all this information certainly inspired me to dig deeper and learn more – even on a topic that isn’t earth shattering.  Why don’t we allow students to find inspiration such as that which will spark their learning?  I’d be willing to bet that if I were a music teacher, for example, or a civics teacher, I could have posted something similar to the Google Doodle which would relate to my lesson and off my students would scamper sniffing and learning.  In fact, I know for certain it does.

One of my lessons when I was in the classroom and introducing a unit of study focused on the Holocaust went something like this:

  1. I selected a strip of paper out of a stack about a person whose name could be found in a stack of USHMM Identification Cards that I had printed out for students.
  2. I found that person’s card and drew a rough outline of a butterfly on the white board.  Then, on one wing of the butterfly I began sketching different things which would be a symbol for that person – interests, family members, occupation, etc. – all sketches – no words.
  3. On the other wing of the butterfly I sketched symbols which represented me and things of importance in my life – my children, my hobbies, etc.
  4. Next, students selected a strip of paper and got the ID Card of their chosen name.  Using construction paper, markers, foam pieces, stickers, etc., students created their own butterflies.  We strung thes from the ceiling and left them hanging for nine weeks.
  5. At the end of the nine week study, students learned the fate of the person listed on their ID Card.  If the person survived, the the butterfly was left hanging.  If the person did not survive, the yarn holding the butterfly was snipped and a pile of butterflies was made on a table at the front of the classroom.

There was so much learning with this simple project!

  1. Students made a connection to these people living in a difficult time without so many luxuries as we enjoy.
  2. The reality of a life being cut short because of a horrific situation was symbolized with the construction paper butterfly and certainly made students pause and think.
  3. The students learned that folks living during that era led lives very much like our own.
  4. Students were distracted by the swaying butterflies in our classroom at first.  As the days went by, we began to ignore them – just like the Concentration Camp folks and bodies were treated during the Holocaust.

I know that there were many more lessons learned by a simple set of doodles made on construction paper but the idea is that here were big ole’ eighth grade boys who were creating something with construction paper, pipe cleaners, glue, markers, etc.  and were enjoying the learning at the same time.

Later, when students were asked to select a topic of interest for a long-term research project and formal essay report, most of them had ready topics and were very curious and interested to know more about it.  They dug in and learned and I often had to remind them to stop searching for more information and get going with the compilation of their paper!

Sometimes a simple doodle is all it takes to get students thinking and learning!

April 8

Selfies: Meeting Them Where They Are

I know that I have used this topic before and more than once.  However, today I am looking at a different implementation.  Really!

Today’s students are often considered self-centric or self-absorbed.  Honestly, let’s stop and think historically about young folks in general.  Haven’t students really always been a bit self-centered?

I certainly recall thinking and even saying to my teachers, “Why do I need to learn this?  I don’t think I’m ever going to use it in life!”  (I’m sure I made many other self-centered statements as well and let me tell my former teachers right now that I am truly sorry!)

Why not take that self-centered nature and our current culturally popular practice of creating Selfies and use it is an educational tool?

I know for a fact that for high school United States history courses (and probably for many other social studies courses as well as other content areas), there is an ongoing standard which expects students to analyze various historical sources effectively and includes a list which has political cartoons.  There is also a standard which expects students to use technology effectively and appropriately to enhance the learning and develop 21st century learners. So, why not use these standards and tap into student creativity?

I recently stumbled upon a post entitled: Artist Uses His Phone to Bring Pop Culture to Real Life.  It inspired me to think of ways to use this as a teaching and learning strategy.  Of course the first idea that popped into my head was the relationship to political cartoons.  Why couldn’t students use this strategy to create their own political cartoons?

Coney Island Beach 1900s


If I were in that previously mentioned United States History classroom (or even back in my old 8th grade ELA classroom), I would probably ask my students to use the concept modeled by François Dourlen to create a political-type cartoon which demonstrates the relationship between Cuba and the United States, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis – which is a true standard for that course. I envision that students would find historical images and utilize them along with cultural icons from the time period – or from our current time period and create a political cartoon using Dourlen’s model.

Edward Scissorhands


After students create their political cartoon, other students might analyze it to determine the message that is intended.  They could give their own perspective of what the creator is trying to project to his/her audience in relation to the topic of study.

Dourlen has even done a little of this himself on his Instagram account.  The image below is an example of using current events and meshing them with an iconic image that most any adult (and loads of children) can easily relate.



I think this would be a perfect current event item that might be easily associated to by today’s students.  Wouldn’t this make a fabulous model for students when asking them to create their own comment on today’s culture, an upcoming election, or most any other newsworthy phenomenon?  I think students would readily see that political cartoons are not necessarily something that are only found in history and they might see that such could be used to make a strong statement on most any classic topic.

So, why not ask your students to stretch their Selfie prowess and use their device to create.  After all, there is really nothing wrong with asking someone to phone home if home is your classroom and you are asking students to report their concept of a topic and their learning!

Phone Home


April 7

What is it about Selfies?

I know that I have written about this topic before but in an age where our culture seems self-absorbed and folks are constantly posting some sort of Selfie to social media, I think I can get away with writing about it again.

Everybody is making Selfies these days.
Have you noticed?
One of the hot Christmas items this past year was a Selfie stick.

I tried to make a Selfie once to show off my new haircut and it took me at least a half-dozen shots to get one that wouldn’t be featured in one of those spoofs called Selfie-Gone-Wrong.

My daughter has told me that at one time she tried to make a photo using her cell phone only to learn that it was full.  Wah-wah-wah.  What?

Upon checking, she saw that it was indeed full – mostly of Selfies made by her oldest daughter who is now nine-years-old.

One of Lillie’s many Selfies

When she scolded Lillie about taking so many photos using Mama’s phone, she suggested that this little photographer use her own tablet or iPod to make Selfies.

Lillie Selfie Collage

That was when she learned that Lillie had already filled up her own tablet and iPod by making Selfies and video tutorials about styling her My Little Pony’s hair or something like that. Yep, on her own, my nine-year-old granddaughter creates tutorials about things which seem important for others to know.  I hope her teacher has made a note of this and uses the concept to encourage learning by creating picture or video tutorials with the third-graders in her class.

Lydia’s Selfie Collage
Selfie making is not limited to the eight-year-old granddaughter.  The soon-to-be-seven-year-old has to get some practice in, too.  And notice that she is photo-bombed by the nine-year-old in the photo at top right (who is probably tutoring her on her technique) and the cute little (at-the-time-six-month-old) sister is photo-bombing and doesn’t even realize it, yet.
Luci’s Selfie (along with Mama and Lydia)

So, we better get her in on the act, too.  We wouldn’t want her to miss out on such an important part of popular culture these days.

Harris and GrandB’s Selfie

Their cousin is an accomplished member of the Selfie crowd and we had to share the limelight in order to send out a photo of his bruise earned climbing on something.  Pretty impressive, huh?

Harris’s Solo Selfie

He thought he’d better get one all by himself without sharing the limelight…just for posterity’s sake.

Levi’s Selfie Mock-Up

Not to be outdone, one of the other grandsons had to show off his skills, too.  (This one is not really a Selfie but I thought it looked like one!)

Girls Group Selfie
*Note:  All the previous selfies are about a year old.  I wouldn’t want to mislead folks.

Don’t forget that there is also a time when it is important to make a group Selfie as well.  (Notice the silly kissy face that the eldest grandchild is making in the group Selfie above.  I hope her mother discourages such silliness in future Selfies!)

I was watching television during my snow days last year and even took in some of the commercials because I wasn’t watching a DVR version that I could forward through the commercials.  One commercial was featuring that talk-show host, Ellen, had broken the Internet by using Twitter with her Selfie at the Oscars a couple of years ago.

That started me thinking…

What is it about our culture that has developed such a climate that we constantly take photos of ourselves?

Are we so self-centric that we cannot find another subject interesting enough to focus our eyes upon?

Obviously, I am not the only one who has considered this phenomenon.

Others are probably more intrigued by this concept than even I am.

It seems that folks of every age and every walk of life are into Selfies these days.

Are we so wrapped up in ourselves and what we are doing that we are ignoring the world around us?

So, what is it about using our mobile devices to make photos of ourselves that appeals to people so much?
I cannot for the life of me figure it out.
I can figure out a way to make it work for me, though.  Why couldn’t we encourage students to look for other classic artworks like those featured on my source website?  Here is how I see the lesson playing out in a social studies class but I wouldn’t limit myself to that content area because I think it would work for any subject area…
  1. Teacher asks students to create a definition of Selfie and post it to Socrative.com or into a Google Form.  Then, asks students to consider one another’s definition and vote for the best one or to combine and collaborate their definitions to come up with the world’s best definition.
  2. Next, students should be assigned into groups of three or partners.  Ask students to create a Selfie of their group, create a slide by adding it to a collaborative class Google Slide collection, add their group Selfie and label each team member.  (Later they will add another link to the collection created as they research and learn more about a topic.)
  3. Groups could choose (or be assigned) a topic relating to a current study or set of standards.  An example might be:  Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Francis Wright, Elihu Embree, John Brown, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, David Farragut, Nathan Bedford Forrest, William Brownlow, Sam Watkins, and Sam Davis.  (All these names are listed in standards focusing upon southern slavery and The Civil War for 8th grade social studies.)
  4. Each group would be responsible for creating a series of Selfies which their assigned person of historical prominence might have posted and explain the significance of their post and its relationship to: the impact of the abolitionist movement; the Compromise of 1850; The Civil War; famous speeches of the era; the conditions of southern slavery; and political impacts of legislation during the early 1800s.
  5. Students might create their own collection of Google Slides featuring their Selfies and explanations or they could create an infographic using Piktochart or Easel.ly or maybe just a simple Google Document with the Selfies and explanations.  The group would add a link to their collection onto their Selfie page in the class collaborative.
  6. After the Selfie collections are completed, students might participate in a Gallery Walk or a Science Fair type share session and provide one another with stars and wishes as feedback.  (Stars would indicate ways each group’s collection shines and wishes would indicate suggestions for revision or improvement.)  Students could make revisions based upon feedback before they submit their collection for an official class grade.
  7. Finally, students could create a reflective document, collaborative table/three-column-chart, or blog post outlining what they learned and what they think they might need to know more about.

I’m not necessarily an advocate for encoouraging a lot of things that take place in our culture which focus on self-centered behavior.  However, why not use what is popular and what is iconic in our favor as a learning tool?

P.S. You might want to look at my source links below the artistic renderings for other entertaining ‘Selfies’ and information.  You also might want to check back for another edition of Selfies in tomorrow’s post.