Collaborative Teaching, why not?

Yes, I am back!  Decided to take some down time to get things down around my house and to decompress from the spring semester stress.  Now, I enter into a new phase…last 3 classes of my Master’s program and finding employment for next fall!  But my goal today is to reflect on collaborative teaching and why in my mind it is a beneficial application for students.

Last week, I sat at a table with fellow teachers that I normally work with and decided to sit back and take in their conversations.  In all honesty, I would rather listen to personal drama and life situations than to hear about politics and complaints of the job (that’s because I am jealous that I don’t have one).  The primary complaint…collaborative teaching and how most of the teachers (veteran/tenured teachers) want nothing to do with it.  As usual, I kept my mouth shut because I have a different opinion on collaborative teaching and now I am going to express it…

Collaborative Teaching, a method designed to give students the maximum opportunity to have their individual needs met while remain in the mainstreamed classroom.  In most cases, it is a Special Education Teacher and a Content Teacher and both work to ensure that all needs are meet, but more specifically both aid to ensure students with disabilities receive the aid they need according to the IEP’s (individualized education program).  Now, collaborative teaching can work well when the two teachers design their classroom and instruction, together.  Both teachers work together to ensure content and effective strategies aid all students.  I guess I view collaborative teaching, like a marriage or friendship.  You need communication, patience, an open mind, and a sense of humor.  However, more importantly your single focus as the teachers of the classroom should be first and foremost the students well being and success academically.

So my question is as we move forward and the common core curriculum has been implemented (at least here in New York).  A curriculum that is has more rigor, more accountability, and let’s face it, it has a more expansive content with literacy applications that have to be completed in a short amount of time…why wouldn’t we, as teachers welcome the concept of collaborative teaching?  Aren’t two minds better than one?  Aren’t we as teachers suppose to aid students to reach their full potential?  In doing that, wouldn’t we want to students thrive and flourish based on having two highly effective teachers?

Now, I know there are difficulties…such as personality difference, teaching style preferences, and even the social dynamics of the students all plays into this.  But as adults, we constantly stand in front of our kids and tell them, “Now you are going to have to work with people that you just may not like or get along with, BUT you have to find away to work with them!”  I have heard teachers repeatedly say that…why are they not taking their own advice?!

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To keep blogging or not?

Originally, this blog was started because it was a requirement for the educational technology class.  Well, in two short days I will have completed that class, along with the other 3 classes that I have been taking.  My plate has been very full this semester with trying to teach as a substitute teacher, raise my children, take care of house, work part time as a housekeeper, and fulfill my requirements for four graduate classes.  I am in the home stretch and down to my final 3 classes for my Masters degree and I AM TIRED! 

With that said, as I sit here on a beautiful Sunday morning, on the deck in the sun (yes, we finally have sun here in western NY and it is suppose to reach 70…happiness right there!); I am reflecting back on my experiences with this technology class.

Intimidation was where I started however eagerness is where I end up.  Now that I have been given a glimpse into the resources available, as a teacher it makes my drive for obtaining my own classroom increase by leaps and bounds!  I am eager to implement Skype and blogging, perhaps even Edmodo.  I want my students to be connected and communicative with the world around them.  I want to teach my students how to recognize credible sources and weed out the nonsense that is presented via the Internet.  I want to demonstrate to my students how YouTube and social networking websites can create connections they never dreamed of.  But also want to teach them responsibility, discretion, and the critical thinking skills, so that they can think about what it is they read and what they present.  I also want to teach my students balance!  Balance your use of technology; it does not replace the value of face-to-face communication, getting out side, and human contact.

After this class, I now have more strategies such as inspiration, power point to prezi, and an over abundance of websites at my disposal as a teacher.  My goal will be to recognize, what aids my students the best in learning the information that they need to be successful in their education.  My head is spinning with ideas…more ideas than I ever thought possible. 

Well, now I guess the goal is decide…do I keep blogging or don’t I?  I want to implement the use of blogs into the classroom but at the same time do I have the drive to maintain it on top of everything else?  I enjoy writing and whether or not I get a response that does not really matter.  It has helped me to organize my thoughts, get something off my mind, and over all it has exposed to me to some awesome people (especially, those in Australia!).  Guess I have lots to think about and hopefully, I will see you next week!  Thanks for following me this semester!

Concerns for the psyche!

This week I decided to take on a few extra substitute-teaching jobs, even though my plate is very full with completing graduate work.  I did so because I wanted to observe the effect of the state testing on students.  There has been much debate in schools, in the media, and in homes about these newly designed state assessments.  However, my goal is not to debate that.  My goal is to give a glimpse into what it is I observed this week and where my concerns truly lie with these types of assessments.

Many of the students I observed this week, I can say confidently as a teacher that I know the students.  For the past two years, I have worked with these students.  I understand their strengths and recognize their individual learning styles.  In knowing these students, I can also say I know their quirks and behaviors; especially the triggers they individually have that can be counter productive to their education.  Again, my goal is not to debate the state mandated examinations, my goal is to raise concern over the psyche of the students when faced with these assessment.  I raise concerns due to knowing that anxiety disorders are very prevalent diagnoses among students, especially the ones I teach.   

Here are some facts according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and I took them directly from their website in order to keep the wording exact (http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics)

  • “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).”
  • “These are the labeled anxiety disorders in children:  Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Selective Mutism, Specific Phobias such as Common childhood phobias include animals, storms, heights, water, blood, the dark, and medical procedures.”
  • “Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”
  • Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children.  Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.”

The highlighted one is where my concern truly lies!  With these facts, the students I have come to care for and teach are students who struggle with school, who have learning disabilities, and emotional disorders.  As the two days of testing unfolded this is what I witnessed among several students…sweat, tears, fist of anger, disparity, and extreme exhaustion.  AND that was all on the first day!  The second day of testing, the feeling of “whatever” stood out.  In some, NOT all, there was more determination but again all the aforementioned display of emotions was present.  PLUS one more and that was exhaustion.  I can only imagine what day three will bring and all of this was repeated last week with other examinations, PHEW…I am tired writing about it!

Now our world has become more competitive which in return has added more stress to our lives.  We constantly compare ourselves to data and data from other nations.  We push our schools to solely take this data to drive curriculum.  And we create tests that assess knowledge based on only A, B, C, and D choices.  I am here as a parent and educator trying to point out, that while I understand the need to make curriculum filled with more rigor and to implement more literacy practices across the content, in order to bring our students overall grade levels up, I can’t help but ask…what are we doing to our future society?  Meaning, with all the stress we face from day to day, in a non-stop competitive world, are now robbing our children of their childhoods?  Meaning, children are suppose to love learning!  Some say they are like empty sponges waiting and wanting to learn.  These assessments take the JOY out of school and take the JOY out of learning.  From what I saw these past few days…there was no joy!  In fact, the students themselves said, “we see no point to these tests.”

I can’t help but wonder why do we do this?  Why do we create anxiety in our education system?  Especially, given that 1 out of 8 children already have anxiety disorders.  Yes, we need to assess the knowledge that students’ possess after being taught; but why can’t we do it through portfolios that contain classwork, homework, tests, projects, and examples of students personalized demonstration of how much knowledge they gained.  If in theory we are preparing our children for college, well I know first hand that college is based on presenting information usually through papers and projects, with the occasional A,B,C,D assessments.  My concern is over the anxiety and the stress that is being created and done to our children.  I am not sure what the answer is but I know I am not the only parent/educator that is concerned about this!

Media, why do you cover what you do?

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What did you follow?  CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Yahoo News, ABC, NBC, CBS, or local news only.   Or did you follow updates on Twitter or Facebook?  Come on, let’s admit…we are news junkies, it is like watching an unbelievable reality show unfold in front of our eyes or a high dramatic TV series that we can’t help but obsessively stay tuned into.  But see if the Walking Dead were on, I don’t think there would have been as many people tuned into the news!  (Can you tell who is a fan…hint, yours truly!)

Seriously, this week I decided to really take note of how much news I watch during a time of crisis.  I’ve become very cognizant and extremely cautious to ensure that I find more than one source when trying to learn about particular situations, especially since 9/11.  Honestly, it makes for a more informed well-rounded opinion of what the situation is at hand.  More importantly, as a Social Studies teacher, I want to educate students that seeking out multiple sources and gaining multiple perspectives are a benefit to oneself in becoming an informed citizen.

This week most of us in the United States sat on the edge of our seats, with the situation in Boston.  Following a blow-by-blow account from the moment it happened to the moment one of the suspects were taken into custody.  But I have to say, even though I am glad the suspects were caught (at least one was and another is dead) most of our news stations barely covered the situation in Texas.  A situation, although accidental claimed the lives of 15 people and injured 160 people.  I guess my point to this week’s post, which is different then most of mine…I question why it is media outlets tend to follow one story more than the other?  It is perhaps, one was a matter of terrorism, and the other was “only” accident (I use “only” to stress my dissatisfaction with the coverage of the tragedy in Texas).  It almost appears that violence, whether it be terrorist act of 9/11 or Boston, or a shooting of innocent people like that in Connecticut and Colorado, which were disgusting acts of extremist or isolationist; those seem to grab media’s attention more so?!  There appears to be more coverage, more investigative and analysis, and more coverage of the victims.

My goal is not to bash any particular news station or to give weight to any event that has transpired.  All are tragedies and all have had an impact on our American society in some way or another (and our global community).  My goal is to ask those who are viewers and consumers of news, whether it be from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Twitter, or Facebook…be cautious in what you view, educate yourself through multiple sources, and don’t give acts of terrorism or extreme violence more attention than those situations that are deemed as accidents.  More importantly, find the good in humanity.  Find news that shows humans carrying out random acts of kindness, who are caring, neighborly, and loving towards one another.  The more we pay attention to violence by those who want to make a point, the more we add “fuel to the fire” to those who want to express their extreme point of view or have a tremendous amounts of hate in their hearts.

In my opinion news media outlets need to spend more time on spreading the good, the kindness, and the good side to humanity!

 

One Room School House, sharing a Skyped experience!

Do you know where this?

ImageIn case you don’t, it is Frenchboro, Maine!

Here is my Skype experience with somone I have NEVER met:

Sometimes when we are forced to do a particular activity in life, we meet it with apprehension and fear.  But in the end, it can be the best experience to have ever happened!  This week there was an assignment presented in the educational technology class that I have been taking.  We were to choose from a list of 30 or so, teachers in various locations, with various educational experiences, and carry on Skype conversation with whom ever we chose.  Talk about pushing our comfort levels…we had never met these people and how awkward to carrying on a conversation with someone in this forum.  Well, my thought was that if there is no one from Maine, I am just not going to do this project.  Guess what?  There was one from Maine, only one!  Now, I don’t know if I believe in signs or not…but someone or something was looking out for me and wanted me to do this.  And I am very grateful that I did and I want to share what it is I learned from a very AMAZING teacher.

Ashley McCaslin was the name I picked and again it was solely based on the fact that she was in Maine and in area that I hold so dearly in my heart.  Ashley teaches in a one-room schoolhouse in Frenchboro, Maine (http://www.frenchboromaine.com).  And yes, I was shocked to know that one-room schoolhouses still exist here in the United States!  However, when you are on an island that is 8 miles from a larger island called Mount Desert Island, which hosts Acadia National Park (http://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm), it makes sense that there is a school for the residents of that island.  On average, 45 people reside on this island year round and Ashley teaches 7 of their school aged children.  The grade levels of her classroom are kindergarten; first, second, fourth, fifth (one in each grade), and 2 are in 7th.  (Talk about having to differentiate her instruction!)

For me, the amazing part was listening to how much technology is available, in such a remote location and how much Ashley implements technology into her instruction.  Each student has his or her own laptop (which is a statewide program); there are two iPads available for the schoolhouse, and iPod touch.  Ashley uses teleconferencing two days a week for reading in “book groups” with other island schools.  Students read and discuss books through teleconferencing, which enables them to work on the literacy skills and keep social interactions with other students that are NOT on their island.  The students also carry on their Student Council via telecom with other schools on various islands.  For math, Ashley uses a program call ALEKS (http://www.aleks.com), which allows for individualizing the instruction for each of her students and generates assessments and homework based on that individualization.  Wait, it gets better…each student has their own email account via Google and Ashley monitors their accounts and uses Google forms for various assignments.  She also has a YouTube account where her students can post their movies that were made in iMovie (even her student in Kindergarten does this!)  As Ashley put it, the education in her district is “Mass individualization of education.”  Awesome!!  Can I teach in Maine???

Now, Ashley did express that it is not always easy, that sometimes it is very difficult however; you could see even in her frustrations that she loves this experience and is grateful for the experience.  I asked Ashley, how she designed her classroom management given that the dynamics of the ages.  She admitted that is has been work in progress but it boils down to three rules:  Respect yourself, Respect other people, and Respect materials used in school.  She said the students are very respectful of her and that each student’s disciplinary action is a case-by-case situation.  Ashley does employ the use of restorative justice, which is building empathy, using effective communication and she creates trust-building exercises.

This project of Skype-ing with an unknown person was an awesome experience and has opened the door to gaining a new friend, especially in the state that I love so much!!  Ashley and I spent two hours talking, we are planning a visit in May, where I can go and experience her island life and see her school.  And she has become a valuable connection in my life.  Ashley, has also given me an education into teaching under stressful circumstances and doing this all within her 1st year of teaching!  Through this Skype project, I learned just how small our world is…Ashley is from Williamson, NY, which is only 15 minutes from Macedon, NY.  She graduated from Nazareth College with her Masters in Education and we both have taken the same Educational Technology class, AND we both LOVE the state of Maine!!  Indeed, Skype is bringing our large, very populated world, into a smaller, reachable, and educational reality.

Vacation and Technology

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Well, this week has been fun and peaceful week here in Buxton, North Carolina or otherwise known as Cape Hateras Island (Outer Banks, NC).  What a peaceful and wonderful week it has been, with three of my four kids, daughter’s boyfriend, and the dog!  I decided to take note of technology while I was down here, what I consider remote area of the U.S., this is what I saw:

 1.  My son brought his X-Box to ensure we had watchable television!  Thankfully, we had Wi-Fi and in the evening we watched some movies via Netflix.  I must say…I am very proud of the boys; NO Xbox games were played!!

2.  Wi-Fi was available and ensured I could make this post and provided endless pictures via Facebook.  But the funny aspect to the free Wi-Fi was that it was turned off at 9 pm.  Not sure why, either!

3.  Our cell phones, on most occasions were our cameras, our communication when we got separated (although there were occasions where we fell out of service), and of course, my kids could update their Facebook statuses.  Never did get to try Face Time or Skype while I was down here, oh well…I am not heart broken over it. 

4.  Most places (definitely not all) have websites and continuously update them, especially, the restaurants and out door activities places.  Almost all the local papers have websites listed for business that have web addresses.  Yes, local paper is still the source for information although, most of the information I obtained from http://www.outerbanks.org.

5.  Even out in the Atlantic while taking a ferry to Oracoke Island (where the Pirate Black Beard was slain and suppose to stayed), we had service.  But visiting the Wild Ponies…no such luck!

6.  Many people use their cell phone as cameras and we even witnessed IPads being used.  The kids thought it was ridiculous but I thought it was creative and awesome.  Because they could have the pic ready to upload into Photo-works and edit upon command, Awesome in my book!

7.  Even in areas, where you assume one would not be connected, THAT IS NOT THE CASE!  OBX (Outer Banks, NC) is very much connected and alive via the Internet and cell phone towers.  Which, the only time you wish you didn’t see those signs of life is when you are taking wonderful sightseeing photos and there are the ugly cell phone towers.  The other disappointed aspect is when you see families not interacting but looking down at cell phones when you are at a local crab shack!  Hello, put the phones away (rule with my family) and TALK!!

8.  My last observation, even on a remote part of the beach I saw 1st hand how quickly National Park Rangers can use technology that is equipped in their vehicles.  I will mention how I know this…my son, with dog in tow and my daughter’s boyfriend decided to wander the beach near Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Well, they stayed near the water and did not notice that they had wandered into an endangered bird nest area.  OH boy, especially when you as a mother turn to see a Park Ranger and North Carolina Patrol speaking to your son.  Needless, to say they ran the boys New York State Licenses in their trucks, gave them a stern lecture, ALMOST fined them $450, but thankfully let them off!  So, the technology I saw in this situation…the equipment planted in the vehicles of the Park Ranger and Patrol…WOW, impressive! They ran those licenses in less then a few seconds!

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After observing all this technology in use while on vacation, in area that is well below sea level and about 70 miles from the mainland, it is very much in use and thriving out here.  Part of me is a little sad by it, guess that is the nostalgic part of me.  OBX is remote, full of history (important history that shaped our country), and yet it has not stayed apart of that old world.  Guess that is the part, I was hoping the old mentality of isolation was not touched by technology and it has been.  Learning about The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, the sinking of German Boats during WWII off the coast of OBX, and seeing pictures of the Wild Horses of Rodanthe, can all be accessed now via the Internet.  They have websites about all of these and more, now as a teacher I can access those and teach about them.  But more importantly, I can say…I HAVE BEEN THERE and show pictures and make it more real for my students.  Guess that is technology and travel working together.  More importantly, I hope with the advancement of technology down here that it prompts people to come here and visit.  And hopefully these people are impacted by the history and culture that is present here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

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Handwriting or Typing?

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Today at lunch, my girlfriends and I engaged in several different conversations…one of which was about education.  Specifically, about handwriting and how cursive handwriting is not taught anymore.  Both expressed concern and disgust over the fact that many schools have cut cursive handwriting out of the curriculum.  They also expressed how both of their son’s had poor penmanship, even with printing.  Of course, they looked to me for advice (given that I have 3 sons); I replied that most boys in general do have poor penmanship and as I parent I supported and encouraged my sons to type everything.  Now, all of our children have and are growing up in a time when computers and video games (that have keyboard pads integrated or as a separate controller) are employed almost daily, if not hourly by our children.  Well, I decided to shock my friends and simply stated, “It is not a bad thing that cursive is not being taught.  Students need become proficient in typing skills.  Everything from our phones, to computers, to video games employs the use of a keyboard.  I think it is better that we enhance their skills on the keyboard and make them more proficient in spelling and grammar through technology use.”  I can still their disapproving stares like I had two heads or something growing out of my nose.  

 

Here is why I said it…my oldest son, who was diagnosed in the 5th grade with a learning disability.  An issue that he had was that his handwriting skills were terrible and cursive was a hopeless case for him.  The energy that it took and frustration that he suffered because of trying to write, in my opinion was unnecessary and created the avoidance of completing his work.  I finally approached his teachers (those responsible for ensuring my son’s IEP was followed) that perhaps we looked into alternative measures for my son to “write” his work with.  My suggestion was that he be able to type everything, except for Math.  After a year of arguing and fighting for this one implementation, my son was granted through his IEP that all work be submitted by typing it into word documents.  So by 7th grade, my son was now behind by two grade levels and typing was granted.  Honestly, I feel that had we implemented it well before that, his attitude would have stay more positive, his frustration level would have been low, and his reading, spelling, and comprehension skills would not have declined so much.

 

Back to my lunch with my girlfriends, they heard my point based on my experience and of course, argued back that the dexterity and skill that handwriting offers is much more valuable and is something that they will need throughout there lives.  While I cannot disagree with that, I did point out how most employers have gone to doing applications via computers or online.  Even at the college level now, all work must be handed in typed.  I also pointed out, that in a world where stress levels are high and things are always changing isn’t it better to have proficient typing skills.  Perhaps, on some level it will aid in keeping up with the changes of technology.

 

Not sure our debate reached a unanimous answer or even ended the debate (I am sure it will be brought up again at some point).  But it was a very enlightening conversation, I hope for all concerned.  I am also certain that it is a debate that continues in many schools, with many teachers, and with many families.  Curious, where do most of you stand on the issue of typing vs. handwriting? 

More studies, more research…please!

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Most of us presumably want guarantees.  When we go shopping for particular items we look to see that the manufacture guarantees their product.  Sometimes we take it one step further when buying new technological devices; we go for the extended warranties, just in case something goes wrong.  Even in regards to education, we are looking for a guarantee that teachers are using techniques, strategies, and particular practices that enhances and perpetuates growth in our children’s lives.  We as teachers are even ensuring that we only use evidence-based practices and sometimes/most times they are effective.  But are evidence-based practices a guarantee?  Are those three little words a guarantee that it is an effective practice?  Or are those three little words, a way to make us feel safe and that we are using something truly beneficial for our students?

Ponder the above questions as I fill you in about the research I have just completed.  My goal was to research technology and it’s use with students with disabilities.  Special Education is all about employing the use of evidence-based practices.  In general most schools have become obsessed with evidence-based practices since the implementation of the response to intervention (RTI).  And rightly so, our students deserve practices and strategies that have proven positive results.  Our students deserve the opportunity to have the best of education.

What I discovered after shifting through a fairly decent amount of research, was that even those researchers had done research on the research that is available and the conclusion is the same…there is not enough research to say conclusively that technology is an evidence based practices.  (Yes, you read it right!)  Technology has only ever been used as an implementation with already established evidence based practices.  It has not yet been given the guaranteed stamp that it is a practice worthy of being used on it’s own.  Most of the research found came to the three basic conclusions: 1.  “That there is critical need for further research on the effectiveness of technologies.”  2.  That “technology cannot be claimed as an evidence based practice.”  3.  That technology remains a “severely underutilized for students with disabilities” (Peterson-Karlan, 2011, p. 39; Smith & Okolo, 2010, p. 270).

After researching this topic about technology and using it with students with disabilities, it has created a drive or ambition within me as a teacher.  I want to conduct studies; studies that demonstrate the validity that technology are an enhancement and a much-needed practice for students with learning disabilities.  The goal is also to be specific, not just in the type of technology used but with which type of learning disability (that is another area that is lacking).  I would like my study to be peer-reviewed and add to the research that is already available.  There is a demonstrated need for more qualitative research to ensure that technology receives the stamp that it is an evidence-based practice.

Facebook and Teachers

Building off of last week’s topic of Facebook and its value in the classroom, I wanted to explore the use of Facebook on a personal level.  Meaning, many of our friends, collogues, and family members embrace using this social media website to keep in touch or stay up date on particular happenings.  Yes, there is always that one particular person who feels the need to share too much information, one that uses inappropriate language, and there is ALWAYS that one who has to give a new status every hour.  And we say our youth are too wrapped up in using social media?!

Here is my question this week…as teachers should we take to our Facebook pages and promote our repulsions or personal grievances with current educational changes?  While, we do have freedom of speech here in the United States and I firmly believe in this right, are we being effective when bringing these grievances up on Facebook?  Many teachers lately have been posting their issues with high stakes testing (standardized testing) and the newly adopted common core here in New York.  While, I agree that testing is given too much weight in the our overall assessment of students and I would rather see portfolios used as our way of assessing their overall performance; are there more effective ways of getting our message across than on Facebook?

Facebook can offer an opportunity for social activism and does create awareness about many different subjects.  Case and point, the tragedy here in the United States at the Sandy Hook Elementary school, where the discussions centered around creating tougher gun control laws and situating armed officers in our schools.  I have never seen a more highly debated subject hit my Facebook wall, than those two issues.  But unfortunately, I also saw more opportunities for “knee-jerk” responses and colorful arguments that sometimes ended up offending more people than creating meaningful discussions.  I guess my concern in teachers using Facebook as their personal vessel for their cause…sometimes, actually many times, certain things are not accurately stated, they are emotional in context, and many people, including the parents and students in which teach will and can see our statements.  NOT that the subject of high stakes testing should be hidden or kept from the public forum, certainly not.  But perhaps, using blogs, wikis, or even a newsletter (printed or Email) could be a more effective approach; well thought out, evidenced based supported and well-executed writings.  Through those mediums mentioned, links can be provided to support your statement (those that have been found to be credible) and the occasional insertion of properly documented statements from journals that are peer reviewed (researched materials).  Those can also be provided on Facebook but unfortunately, not many are using them or backing up what they are fighting for.  Again, is it truly professional or credible to debate our grievances via Facebook?  I tend to lean, toward the answer no.  Facebook offers more opportunity for emotion and perhaps, no true resolution, and it adds to the “drama” of the situation.  If we are trying to figure out a better way of assessment for our students and we want to create awareness, then let’s find a less emotional, knee jerk arena than Facebook.

Face Book in the classroom, where do you stand?

 

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I put this out there because I personally have struggled with an answer and I am continuously looking for teachers who have had success at using Face Book in their classroom.  My question and struggle are sort of ironic, because in a recent graduate level literacy class, I promoted using Facebook as a resource for teaching.  I gathered information from FacebookForEducators.org and presented this very controversial subject.  Nearly, all my fellow graduate students when asked if they use Facebook, said yes.  However, when asked if they would use it in their classroom, they all quickly responded NO and rather emphatically.  The largest grumble, there is a time a place for “social stuff!”  Now, my comeback was and remains the same…isn’t school “social stuff”?  Weren’t schools created based on communities coming together, educating children for future generations to be productive member of a community?  I also defended my position by presenting theory, a theory in which most teachers respect and adhere to in their teaching.

Here is what I stated based on my research and the aid of FaceBook.org:

Vygotsky’s social learning theory, which points out “that social scholarship plays an important role in cognitive development.”  As educators our ultimate goal should be to ensure that students are able to “interact, share experiences, and learn from one another” (Stewart, 2009).  This is what Facebook’s intentions when used correctly can support; simply put, a social connection that can aid in learning.  The thought that people can learn from one another through “observation, imitation, and modeling,” as Bandura’s theory highlights is another reflection of what Facebook offers communities around the world.  Classrooms have been pushing to foster a community of learners, to take on the concept of “working together.”  FaceBook can promote the connectedness, trust, interactivity, and shared goals, which will aid in the communication between teachers and students (Fewkes & McCabe, 2012).

Why am I struggling now?  On some level, I think it is because of the controversy of it all.  The drama that seems to ensue when FaceBook is used between high school girls/boys and their drama OR the inappropriate content that filters into the impressionable minds of our students.  Or perhaps, it is because my skills as teacher are not where I want them to be, especially when using social media network in the classroom.  Again, I wish could have more personal contact and interaction of seeing FaceBook used in the classroom.

As a teacher, I want to be able to enhance my students’ learning and bring acceptable resources into the classroom.  However, the question remains, can Facebook be used effectively as an education tool in and out of the classroom?