Social Media Class

May 11, 2010 – Welcome Back!

Thank you for the reflection comments that you posted below!

Don’t forget: You can access our class “Live Binder” by clicking here. The access code for our binder is SmithtownTC. The reading assignments for May 11th have been posted.

You should have received an e-mail from The Educator’s PLN Ning, a social network made especially for teachers and administrators who wish to create their own Professional Learning Network (PLN). We’ll actually talk a lot about this concept today.


E-mail me or leave a comment below if you have any questions, and I’ll be sure to respond promptly!


17 Responses to Social Media Class

  1. Kim Craig says:

    Technically, I am a millenial. I fall in to the age range, but I do not feel I am “one of them” – I’m just not tech-savvy enough.I have very mixed feelings about technology, particularly social networking sites, and the impact on our classrooms.

    Teaching 11th and 12th grade students for seven years now, I have noticed that students’ attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter. There is a demand among students to be “entertained,” rather than to experience learning. Additionally, I have serious concerns regarding the Net generation’s lack of basic language skills and social skills. Some of my students have taken to using computer abbreviations in their writing: examples b/c, ppl – in academic essays! They have difficulty differentiating between informal and academic realms.

    However, I see the value in making information accessible. I do have a website just for my students – I have poured hours into it so that they can check for homework assignments, check the weekly ID terms, and download and print handouts they may have misplaced. I feel like I’m wasting my time because only my AP students bother to use it! I have even allowed students to “Cha-cha” questions that we couldn’t answer as a class – and they love it. But part of me feels like we are appeasing this generation and allowing them to always take the easy way out…and become intellectually lazy. Too many of my students feel that they should get As just for completing assignments, with no regard for quality.

    Their need to be coddled and verbally praised all the time is also frustrating. They want everything spoon-fed to them – rather than having to work for it and sort through tough concepts. One of the articles asked why students need to know when the Battle of 7 Timbers happened. They don’t (it’s an obscure battle), however, I want my students to have a sense of history and how we got to where we are today. You can’t just google “Why is the United States the way it is?”!!!

    I do want to allow my students more opportunity to use their skills and improve their skills in terms of finding and sorting through information. It’s difficult for me to figure out sometimes what is a reliable resource – so how can we expect them to? I am looking forward to learning how to incorporate technology in a way that we all benefit.

  2. Lynne Schiraldi says:

    The use of technology in class is extremely important. If technology surrounds our students for the majority of the day that they are not in school I can imagine why they feel constricted that their use of it is strictly limited during their school day. It’s like taking away your cell phone for a couple of hours. I know of a couple of adults (myself included) that would freak out and worry “what if something happens and I don’t have my phone?!!” Since I’ve had my license I’ve always had a cell phone. I’ve forgotten my cell phone a couple of times at home and completely went into a panic when I realized I forgot it! Then my parents (and even husband who is 4 years older than me) remind me that they survived just fine without a cell phone. How can I call AAA if I get a flat? I don’t even know how to change a tire.

    With this being said, I don’t think the kids should be on their phones while you are teaching. They can deal with it in their lockers for a couple of hours. I love the kids who wear sweatshirts, put their cell phone in the connecting pockets in front of them and text blindly. What is that important that you couldn’t say to your friend in 40 minutes?? And I LOVE the parents that call their kids during school and their phones go off in my class. Call the main office if it is that important. I once had a kid “cued” by his Dad on a Nextel in the middle of my class during my first year of teaching. I was completely horrified and didn’t know how to react. I told him to tell his Dad he was in the middle of class and he would be shutting off his phone for the remainder of the day.

    On the positive side of using technology, kids are so excited about using the latest gadgets in their world why not bring some of it into class as a teaching tool? I remember when one of the teachers on my team had a Smartboard and the pad that went with it. ALL the kid’s wanted to play with it. My math teacher just introduced the “clickers” three weeks ago and the kids were again dying to play with their new toy. I am definitely interested in using the technology like the SMART educational programs, social media and blogs to capture their attention and hopefully give them the material that they have to learn in a new way that is hopefully interesting to them.

  3. Kerry Fay says:

    I consider myself to be comfortable with new technology. Although I may resist it at first, eventually I am able to pick it up rather easily. However, I am only twenty-four years old. Nothing that I have been exposed to is that far off from what I have used before. I am dreading the day when I can no longer keep up with my students. By keeping up with them, I don’t just mean being aware of the references they make or the tools that they use. I mean being able to keep them engaged…
    It is evident that technology has impacted the length of time that one single stimulus can keep us watching, listening, reading, etc. However, it makes me wonder whether this ability to multi-task helps or hurts us. Yes, I can multi-task well to complete tedious to do’s. However, I find that I become bored very easily, driving being the prime example. Because I live in Queens, I commute 50 minutes to and from school. No longer is the radio enough to occupy my mind. All I can think about it checking my online banking statement, responding to a funny e mail from my friend, texting my fiancé to see what he wants to do for dinner, adding a note on my iPhone to remember later, etc. Of course I refrain from doing this, not only because it is insanely dangerous to me and the other people on the road, but because it frustrates me that it is actually difficult to occupy my mind.
    If I have so much difficulty being satisfied with one task, how can I expect my students to sit in a classroom and never have the temptation to text, twitter, etc. Yes, my SMARTBoard is so helpful; it allows me to make something like grammar three dimensional and interactive. However, is it enough? What else can I do to keep my students engaged? Hopefully, this class will equip me with a skill set to do so!

    • msdon9 says:

      Kerry – I “facebook” while driving. It’s so dangerous! My excuse is that I have ADD and that I need to keep myself occupied when I’m stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.

  4. Shannon says:

    Technology is a hard subject for me to have an opinion on right now. On the one hand, I’m in my 20’s and thus Facebook has been an avid part of my life and the life of every other 20 something (or even 30 something) that I graduated with or have befriended over the years. But, as a teacher, I’ve seen the effects social networking and the Internet have had on those who’ve grown up with it and relied upon it since, well, the beginning of time (for them). It makes me feel disconnected, like I can’t connect with them; I can’t fully understand why their values are so different from mine. Take, for example, a recent “squabble” that I had with my father – he and I now live in different houses since I’ve recently been married, and that has created some tension since we don’t get to physically see one another each day. Communication over e-mail, which is sometimes all I have time for, is not warranting itself to communicating ideas effectively and without repercussions, thereby resulting in the above said “squabble.” To mend the situation, I had to drive over to my parent’s house, “talk things out” in person, and thus the tension was diffused; we could read one another’s facial expressions, body language, and just get back to the “bonding” that only in-person communication can cultivate, right?

    So, relating this back to teaching… as an English teacher, class discussions are the key to getting to know my students. I’m able to hear their responses and thus read their reactions to ideas presented through their tone of voice, mannerisms, body language, etc.- all the ingredients that allow the understanding of another human being to take place, as in the case with my Dad. So, how can I let go of this value, the value of feeling personally connected with someone, and talk over a blog instead? Or, converse through online messages paired only with a picture? In admitting such a question I feel as if I’m being a traitor to my generation, the “Millenials,” but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to TRY and morph my thinking into one that’s more modern and like my students. I want to know how to change my way of thinking into a way that’s able to reach my students effectively and efficiently. But, I’m still skeptical if that’s going to be possible simply because I feel technology is more than introducing fancy new ways of looking at information; it’s more about changing the way we think, the values we hold dear, and thus the types of relationships we hope to foster for our future.

    Additionally, using the Internet to make “public” our own issues, opinions, and thoughts is quite intimidating. Even in this post, I’m paranoid to send across my feelings on technology as I’m going to be judged; it’s a fact. As an English teacher, with fellow English teachers in the class, I’m going to be judged on my grammar. As a teacher in general, I’m going to be judged on my willingness to use technology. As a person, I’m going to be judged on my ability to let go of my inhibitions. So, integrating technology also forces us to change the way we look at and feel about ourselves; we are forced to open the gates of our personal lives to everyone. So, will this fact foster our confidence or inhibit it? Or, will it foster false confidence as we are allowed to hide behind anonymity, if we so choose, on sites such as Formspring? Only time will tell… I guess I’m going to find out whether I like it or not!

  5. Karolin Acunto says:

    I am in your mother’s age group, a baby boomer, a single parent with a millenial son earning a degree as a computer programmer. We are from different worlds. In school, I use the Smart board daily and have developed many programs. This year I learned to use the Smart Response, but have to get some practice with it. My students use computers for different applications that are integrated with my lessons. Yet, I know very little about using social media. I want to learn as much as you can teach me and I can absorb. Teaching has been the focus of my life along with raising a son, and the possibility of retirement causes me great apprehension. I hope to use everything you teach me to bridge my way to a new life. I can’t wait to surprise my son.

    • msdon9 says:

      Karolin – As a veteran teacher, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of flash-in-the-pan trends come and go. What is your opinion about the drive to center curriculum around “21st Century Skills?”

  6. msdon9 says:

    I’m so glad to see these comments here! Thanks for posting them. I’d like to re-visit this page later in the day when I have some more free time; however, in the meantime:

    Kim – I think you make some good points about “appeasing the generation…making them lazy and letting them take the ‘easy way out.’” One of the things that annoys me the most is that most of my students DO NOT TAKE NOTES. They expect me to just upload the notes to the web and they’ll go print them out later. I actually explain to the kids that studies have shown when students write, they remember. Still, my attempts to encourage them to take notes are futile. I have a hard enough time keeping them organized.

    Lynne- I have some ideas about cell phones in class and Twitter, which I’ll introduce later in the class. In the meantime, check out this web article about cell phone use in the classroom:

  7. msdon9 says:

    Shannon – As a fellow English teacher in this class, I will never judge you for your grammar. Lord and William Safire know that mine isn’t perfect 🙂

    I understand what you said about the disconnect that often occurs in “technological” discussion. How many times have we gotten ourselves in trouble because we didn’t take into account the perceived “tone” of a text message or an e-mail? Sometimes adding the “smiley” emoticon is important because it relaxes the reader and lets him know, “It’s ok… there’s a smiley here.”

    I just took an informal poll in my journalism class, and I was told that students often engage in video chat (Skype, AIM, iChat, and others) because they think “it’s easier to understand someone when you can see them.” Another student remarked, “You can tell when someone is multi-tasking because they’re not looking at the camera, and that’s annoying.” Funny, I never would have imagined that this sort of thing would someday take place when I was a junior in high school!

    The last I checked, Skype is blocked on our school’s Internet filter. Why?

  8. Denise Daly says:

    I am considered of age to be a “millennial,” but I certainly don’t feel like one. A big part of why I think this way is because I feel that I use technology more as a teacher than in my personal life. Even integrating technology more into my classroom could increase in order to keep up with my tech-savvy students. Technology is a huge part of their worlds, and I know it could and should be a bigger part of my world. For me, feeling comfortable using different forms of technology is not the issue. I think it comes down to finding the time and motivation to learn how to navigate through different technologies. It is also about keeping my personal life indeed personal. I keep in touch with my family and friends without using things like face book or twitter, so shouldn’t that be enough?

    I still consider myself to be more of a novice when it comes to using things like setting up blogs and face book and twitter accounts, and I find that I check my school email ten times more than my personal email. Also, I have the some concerns when it comes to setting up blogs in my classroom. Can I monitor posts before they get posted? It would not be beneficial to have students write inappropriate posts.

    A smart board was recently installed into my classroom. This resource has given a way of incorporating technology on a daily basis, and this tool has served as a daily reminder of how necessary technology is today’s world. During a recent lesson about The Diary of Anne Frank, I asked my students to think of three things they would bring with them if they had to go into hiding. Before answering, they asked if they were to answer in relation to present day or during Frank’s time. It was then that I realized where there responses were heading. They crafted their lists based on present time. Most to all of each class answered that they would bring at least one form of technology with them. They all opted for their cell phones, I-pods, and laptops. Only a handful of students selected sentimental things and/or necessities. Because we live in a technology based world, the importance of preparing all students to be 21st century learners and members of an ever-changing society must be our reality as educators.

    • msdon9 says:

      Denise – we’re going to talk about blogs in this class. Your concerns about monitoring posts are very valid.

      I think your anecdote about the Ann Frank lesson tells us a lot. Do kids want to bring their cell phones with them because the phone itself is the prized possession, or is it the communication they can have through using the cell phone? Do they want to bring their iPods because the apparatus itself is important, or because music is their most prized possession? Surely they wouldn’t want their laptops to write essays for English class – it would probably be to talk to their friends via Skype or AIM. So what is it that these kids really value? Is it technology, or communication?

  9. Matt Hennings says:

    I am technically a memeber of the Net Generation as well, and at times I feel a disconnect with my students (pardon the pun). I consider myself pretty tech-savvy, but every once in a while I lag behind my students and now I start my investigations for the newest technologies with them. I ask the students how they are communicating and where on the Internet they spend the most amount of time.
    A great tool that I found in my travels is This is a real-time poll that you can use in class. The kids can text their answers, and the poll updates live! You can do multiple choice and other things- here’s a link for you all to check out:
    Now this type of interaction requires students to actually use their cell phones during class time. Recently at HSE we had a satirical edition of the school paper that was published in which and artcle appeared joking about how students are now allowed to text in class. Well, my opinion is that maybe if we can put the texting interest to use, then maybe it actually can be helpful in education rather than a distraction.
    My department has been deeply involved with the 21st Century Skills initiative, because we have been preparing students for life in the business world for a long time now. The 21st Century Skills initiative has a lot of merit in my opinion, and we have to be able to prepare this Net Generation for life once they graduate college (if that’s even their path). Maybe they were right in the 60 mins clip when they said adolescence is now lasting until peoples late-20’s. There is a major generation shift happening right now, and we have to accomodate it.
    Here’s my issue though… there is a difference between accomodating for the Net Generation, and applauding mediocrity. The level of complacency is at an epodemic level in this country (again, in my opinion), and unless we right the ship now, we’re going to be headed for a whole mess of trouble in the future.

    • msdon9 says:

      Matt, it’s so funny… I was at an ASCD workshop today and the person sitting next to me told me about that exact same website. I’d love to check it out maybe test drive it with some of my students! I agree with what you said about applauding mediocrity; in fact, there’s a book I started reading a few years back called “A Nation of Wimps.” It’s written by Hara Estroff Marano, who is the editor-at-large of Psychology Today, and it echos the sentiments you stated above. The cover image is a little kid wrapped in yellow Caution tape. Yes, I’m one of those people who judges a book by the cover, and it did not disappoint. I have to say that it did fire me up a little… perhaps it would do the same for others, too.

  10. Lauren FitzPatrick says:

    Technology is growing at an astonishing rapid rate. It’s amazing to me that by the end of a four year technology program, that half of what was learned will be obsolete. What does that say about our education? How does that effect how we learn?
    I believe that means that education has to change just as fast as technology, in order to keep up to date with the students that we are teaching. The information we are trying to convey in our classrooms is easily accessible to students on the internet. By integrating technology into the classroom and utilizing the technology kids are already using everyday, because its second nature to them, we are bridging the gap that has been created.

    I signed up for Twitter. My husband is on Twitter too, and I saw he was tweeting about silly things like in the funny video we saw. When I showed him the video to illustrate what he was doing I nearly doubled over with laughter on how he reacted. I think he’ll approach it a little differently from now on.

  11. Mark Jackett says:

    I’m all about integrating technology into the classroom. I use my SmartBoard almost daily, I have a couple of different blogs, I use Nicenet, and I frequently post things on the blogs and Nicenet that require the students to read and respond to items found elsewhere on the web.

    Despite this, I do have a lot of concerns about all of this technology.

    1. As educators we are in the business of helping kids to think deeply and critically about important topics. I don’t understand how someone can think deeply about any one thing if she is doing six things at a time. Kids don’t learn as well if they are texting in class, or checking Facebook every two seconds while doing their homework. Maybe someday the brains of the species will evolve to a point where we really can do multiple things at once, and do them all well, but I don’t think we’re there yet. So my concern is that students are getting surface exposure to a lot of things, but very little deep understanding of anything.

    And this doesn’t just apply to academics. Some of the people quoted in the “Antisocial Networking” article suggested that texting and Facebook allows kids to be closer to their friends because they are in constant contact. But everything is so superficial. I’ve seen the comments people leave on their friends’ photos on Facebook: “That was cool.” “OMG, that was hysterical!” And obviously people aren’t writing a novel on their cell phones. All of this messaging cannot possibly replace hanging out with your friends for hours and just talking. When I was a kid, parents would get annoyed with their teenagers talking to their friends on the phone for hours, but now, I’d welcome it. Which brings me to…

    2. What about human contact? There are days when I feel like I could have stayed home in pajamas and taught my class online, and it would be kind of cool if someday we get to that point, but I never want to teach that way full-time. It’s just not the same. I don’t know how else to put it, but we as human beings are social animals, and we need actual physical, visual, and verbal contact with one another in order to be healthy. We also need to be able to be alone once in a while, to get to know ourselves better, and today’s kids are never alone because their friends are only a text away.

    I’ve taken online classes. It’s great not having to get in the car to drive anywhere, but I don’t remember those classes as fondly as the ones in which I sat with other human beings and discussed topics face-to-face.

    I just think sometimes we have a tendency to rush into things just because something is new and bigger and shinier. But that doesn’t necessarily mean better. If we get to a point where the majority of interactions happen electronically, I don’t care what that does to the economy and productivity, etc., we will be poorer for it.

    • msdon9 says:

      Mark, I never took an online class because I had a feeling I wouldn’t really like it. Far be it from me to “knock” anyone’s education, but I don’t understand how people can feel satisfied with completely online universities (such as the University of Phoenix).

  12. msdon9 says:

    I received this via e-mail. I’ll leave the author as “anonymous” for now:

    “As far as the “Millenials” are concerned, I find it quite unsettling. I for one happen to be a “Millenial”, but I went to college on my own accord, I got a job right out of college on my own accord, and although I am still living with my parents I have the motivation and desire to get out and live on my own once I have a good financial base set. I feel it somewhat unnecessary to be so accommodating to a generation of who, I personally feel, are just lazy and demand that things be handed to them. I know plenty of people in my exact shoes that got their stuff together and are doing well for themselves. To change the entire flow of the business and education world because of lazy children who were awarding for doing nothing growing up seems somewhat absurd. I fear of what will come of these “adults” once they hit their 30s, 40s, even 50s. When will they finally grow up? When will they start families and what will they teach their children? Will they even have children considering how self centered the generation seems to be? I agree there needs to be a shift, but there should be a shift in a better, more balanced direction, instead of catering to the laziness of the “Millenials”.”

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