Aug 29, 2012

Digital Communications

First, a video that shares what students want us to know about technology and its use in school:

Then there's this: Common Sense Media recently published the results of a survey about teens about social media.  The infographic at the right highlights some of those results (click to enlarge). The key findings may surprise you:
  1. Teens are avid, daily users of social media.
  2. Teens are much more likely to report that using social media has a positive impact on their social and emotional lives than a negative one.
  3. Most teens prefer face-to-face communication, and many of them think using social media can interfere with that.
  4. Some teens wish they could disconnect more often—and that the people around them would, too.

What does this mean for teachers? While this study focused on 13-17 year olds, students as young as Kindergarten are connecting with other children through apps, online games and chat tools. While they are comfortable in this environment, they don't always know how to behave appropriately. Children often share personal information, say what is on their mind without regard for how others will be effected, and have a hard time deciphering tone and intent when reading short messages.

In addition to personal communication, students of all ages have become dependent on digital tools to learn and practice skills. The internet has provided easier access to vast amounts of great information. It is becoming easier to directly communicate with the people who are making history, science and culture.

How can our students use digital communication tools to benefit their learning? How can we, as educators, provide regular opportunity for our students to digitally communicate effectively and appropriately? At the same time, how can we help them maintain a healthy balance of digital and face-to-face communication?

Below are just a few suggestions to help students master reading, writing, typing, online safety, digital citizenship and of course, content area knowledge.
  • Engage students via email. Demonstrate appropriate and professional email correspondence by communicating assignments, concerns, praises, and deadline reminders. Require specific assignments be submitted digitally, either a short paragraph in the body of the email or a longer report as an attachment.
  • Tweet classroom activities. Set up a class account and have students take turns sharing projects, activities, and other great things that happen in your classroom. Follow other classes doing the same thing.
  • Set up a class blog. Post a writing prompt, tricky math problem, a scientific conundrum, or other content related question and invite students to comment with their responses. Join QuadBlogging and connect with other similar aged classrooms throughout the school year.
  • Develop a class wiki. Share information, plan and collaborate on projects within or across classes, even create a digital classroom.  Connect with other schools -- invite digital Flat Stanley reports, share local culture and customs, compare weather patterns.
  • Connect with other classrooms using Skype. Share oral presentations, read stories, or just talk about what it's like to live in Warren County, New Jersey, or the United States.
  • Establish a digital classroom using Edmodo. The classroom can be open 24/7 and accessible from any device with a connection to the internet, allowing students to receive, verify and submit assignments, connect with classmates, and even connect with other classrooms across the globe.
Greenwich staff is encouraged to contact Mrs. Bond to discuss how you can incorporate digital communications into your classroom.