Social Media reflection

What have I learned about social media tools?

The overarching benefit  of this social media class that I have gained thus far is exposure to a wide range of tools and options of how to use these tools.  I think of these tools in two main categories — student-oriented for classroom activities, e.g., using Twitter to develop creative writing abilities; and teacher-oriented, such as exchanging ideas and resources through a website like http://www.delicious.com.  Prior to this class, either I had no idea these Internet-based resources existed or I did not understand how they could benefit students and/or teachers.

In terms of Web 2.0 tools, first I had to learn what this term really means.  I now understand that Web 2.0 programs allow on-line interaction and collaboration that encourages students to hone their critical thinking skills especially within the context of accessing and utilizing social media resources.

What connections have I made?

I interpret ‘connections’ in terms of the potential  applications of how I can make the best use of social media tools during my upcoming first year of math teaching.   For example, I joined the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) last year when I did my student teaching, but I only recently made the connection to NCTM middle school math through Twitter.  NCTM posts about two Tweets per day with ideas for the classroom.  I also like the idea of making use of Google apps and document sharing so students can work in groups outside of the classroom.  The other connection I have made is gaining ideas for a blog that  I can utilize for parent and student communication.

What have I learned from my PLN?  What does my PLN include?

I have to admit that I had never heard of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) before this social media class.  PLNs are valuable networks of people and ideas that exchange ideas and resources.   Just three weeks ago, I opened a Twitter account and already I’ve found it be very useful.  For example, I discovered that NCTM tweets a few times a day with ideas and concepts for middle school math classrooms.

Thanks to a key member of my PLN,  Dr. Fritz, I gained access to list of middle school math blogs on http://ispeakmath.wordpress.com/middle-school-math-blogs/, which is going to be immensely helpful both in terms of learning from colleagues around the world about lesson and project ideas, as well as how I should best approach setting up and managing a professional blog.  Another key member of my PLN is my mentor teacher from my student teaching.  I follow her on http://www.delicious.com, where she posts URLs that will help me gain exposure to current trends in mathematics teaching in the United States. This will be critical for me when I transition from working in international schools to working back in the U.S.

Where am I in comparison to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)?

Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity —  While I believe I inspire student learning and creativity, I know that I need to incorporate more technology in my lessons.  When I teach next year, I want to take full advantage of Geometer’s Sketchpad to develop lessons in which students can work in pairs and small groups to investigate mathematical concepts.

Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments —  I think spreadsheet skills are critical in real-world scenarios, so I plan to use Microsoft Excel in my math lessons to help students develop basic skills so they can manipulate and analyze data effectively and efficiently.

Model Digital Age Work and Learning — I have a long way to go in this regard.  I need to develop my knowledge and skills of on-line resources and communicate this to parents, students and the school administration.  My blog and exchanges with my PLN are key elements to help me develop experience in this NETS category.

Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility — In a math classroom, I do not think I will have many opportunities to promote this standard, but I see a role for myself in showing students how I access resources and how I evaluate the validity of Internet-based information.

Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership — Since I’m at the beginning of my teaching career, this is the ideal time to establish  technology-based professional development as a priority.  I hope other teachers in the math department and my principal will appreciate how I search for and incorporate outside resources into our curriculum.

What questions do I have?

The key question I have is related to time management as a new teacher.  How can I take advantage of social media resources while also keeping up with the demands of a new teacher?  I know that I will feel slightly overwhelmed with lesson planning, assessments, parent communications, other faculty obligations, etc.  While I realize that access to social media tools can support my work and efforts in the classroom, I can imagine how too much access may be unproductive.

Also, I know that I want to start a blog — well, I am starting a blog as part of this class, but I intend to develop this site further to be a resource for parents, students and potential future employers to assess my teaching perspective.  In this context, I need to ensure that the blog is high-quality in terms of content and appearance, and that requires significant time and effort.   Again, the question is — how to balance the time needed to put together an interesting and well-written blog during a first year of teaching?

Where would I like to go from here with what I have learned?

My answer to this question is related to the questions I just described.  I believe a key for me going forward is to develop a habit of dedicating a certain amount of time per day (e.g., 20 minutes during a free period) to explore social media resources that will either support me in terms of current lesson plans or in terms of professional development in a wider context.   Another aspect of my future social media activities will be to become an active contributor to my PLN.  I know that I cannot simply be a “follower” in the long-term and that I will need to contribute ideas/resources too.

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17 thoughts on “Social Media reflection

    1. Julie, Thanks for the response and for suggesting the bigmarker.com resource. That will be an incredibly useful resource and help me feel more in touch with current best practices back in the States as I initiate my teaching career overseas. Also, many thanks for your blog, especially in terms of compiling a list of middle school math teacher blogs. All the best, Chris

  1. Hi Chris,

    Time-management is essential in being a teacher within the classroom. This is a skill that we’ve all developed during our student teaching. We wanted to make sure we got the appropriate content in per subject PLUS we were also balancing Drexel courses at the same time. Think of that time period… how did you manage everything? Don’t forget we also kept a diary where we self-reflected during student teaching. That diary can be transferred to your blog. You can list ideas, thoughts, etc. after teaching a lesson and use that 20 minutes you’ve blocked off to work on your blog.

    Kristin Bocar

    1. Kristin, Thanks for the reminders about what we have already learned about time management. I know I can do it, but I find it daunting nonetheless. I appreciate the encouragement though!

  2. Hi Chris, It sounds like you have found a useful way for Twitter to work for you. Maybe you could start with that as a way to keep a simple and short blog to share your thoughts with others. Also, I love that you are using excel in your classes. I think that is a very important tool everyone should know because it seems to always be used in the work place.

  3. Kendrah Butler: Excellent Post! I think you provide an in depth analysis of social media and its benefits in the classroom. I think that you also present some excellent questions in regards to classroom management. In fact, we as new teachers, this is probably going to be an area in our teaching that is going to take years to perfect, especially when incorporating technology in the overall classroom environment.

    With you being a future math teacher, I know technology in regards to spreadsheets and mathematical programming with add that additional edge to you children’s learning experience. It will also enhance their learning experience.

    You made a statement that you believed that it would be difficult for you to promote digital citizenship and responsibility. I think this is TOTALLY applicable to you as you classroom. Integrity in regards to your classroom and digital software or usage can always be applied, especially in regards to site work that has been done and giving credit where credit is due for research and other word.

    Great job!

  4. Great and honest reflective post!

    Exchanging ideas, resources and collaborating with colleagues are definitely a responsibility for any outstanding teacher. It is awesome that through twitter, you have been able to establish connection with NTCM. Your twitter account will not only help you with locating great resources for your classroom but it will also be instrumental in your professional development.
    During the time you worked in international schools, did you have the opportunity to use a technology such as the Smartboard and if so, how did it help facilitate teaching math in your classroom? Also, are the students and teachers over there aggressively using social media platforms in learning and teaching respectfully?

  5. Start building your blog little by little. Visit others’ blogs to see how you can make it a meaningful part of your PLN and eventually, your portfolio:). You might even want to start a Feedly account where you can keep a list of all of the RSS feeds you follow in one spot.

    1. Sorry Chris – my hyperlinks aren’t working today for some reason. I’ll rewrite that comment here:

      Start building your blog little by little. Visit others’ blogs to see how you can make it a meaningful part of your PLN and eventually, your portfolio:). You might even want to start a Feedly account where you can keep a list of all of the RSS feeds you follow in one spot.

  6. Kendrah Butler: Great post! I think this post was especially interesting from a math teacher’s perspective in regards to incorporating the NETS standards into your overall classroom environment.

    I think you bring up a great point in regards to time management within the classroom especially from a technological standpoint. I think that this is a skill that teachers much harness in order order for their teaching and their students learning to be productive. This part of the lesson must be controlled. I thinking continuing to monitor student progress as well as specifying the sites that students are allowed access, I think all of this is important for students to be aware of in regards to not only time management but also behavior management within the classroom!

    Great post!

  7. I also wonder about time management. I think you need to set priorities your first year, which is what I did. I said I needed to get the material under my belt and lesson planning. Now since it’s towards the end of the year and we are winding down with learning new things and I have already had all my evaluations, I’ve decided to try recording a few things and posting them online for the students who are absent or need extra help to view. What bothers me is that you mentioned with the parent communication, our parent’s have access to their student’s grades and very few (I mean VERY few) parents reach out to me. I made some phone calls the other day and it was like they had no idea their daughter has a 38% in my class for this quarter! So, while it is helpful, sometimes I just shake my head and say what is the point!

    I love your thoughts and the blog. I’m a math teacher and I had to good who is Descartes!! Haha, I love him. I am taking another grad class and we are talking about polar coordinates and I’m like I miss my (x,y) points!!

    1. Thanks for the comment and advice about time management. I have heard that many parents do not take advantage of resources/information provided by teachers. Some parents can certainly be disconnected from the reality of their child’s learning progress. All we can do is try to reach out to them, but if they refuse/ignore us, there’s not much we can do.

  8. Chris,

    I too can relate to your question about time management. I am currently student teaching and am finding it difficult to carve out the time needed to fully explore some of these online tools and social media platforms while teaching and taking classes. My own plan is to devote time to additional research and exploration in the summer when student teaching is over and I might have a little more time on my hands. As a full-time teacher, I am sure time management must also be a struggle. I suppose, like Kristin suggested, it just takes the routine of regularly blocking off time each week to devote to blogging and other social media tools. I am sure this is easier said than done, but will likely be easier as it becomes second nature. Best of luck with everything.

    Rick

  9. The Delicious site that you mentioned would be really great for class projects like Jigsaws (http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesign/tutorial/jigsaw.html) and WebQuests (http://webquest.org). You could compile information and websites that will be used for students to create projects!

    I struggle with time management now too because I am full time student teaching and all that that entails. I plan though to start small. Class Website, Wiki, and multimedia projects using things like Glogster and Prezi. It will then depend on what my school has that will determine student access to technology.

  10. Did you know that delicious and Diigo are similar but Diigo does so much more? If you already have delicious bookmarks, you can easily import them into Diigo.

  11. Chris,

    I absolutely love the layout of your blog! It is very pleasing to the eyes as well as navigation. It is clear what you are trying to get across and the answers to each part of the reflective post are right in order. In your questions section, I am finding the same struggle of time management to almost be a burden. I have been through the interview process multiple times and in each one, they have made it clear that time management will be a challenge for the first few years of teaching. I understand this, but I also want to stay ahead of the technology curve. I like how you put that too much access makes you unproductive. Great point! I would also like to start a blog and I think that during my first year of teaching, it will be very beneficial to myself as far as reflection goes, but also for others because at one time or another, all teachers have been through this. Seems as though we may be on the same page after reading your reflections, which makes me feel more at ease! This is the main reason that I like blogs so much! Great work!

    1. Aubrie,

      Thanks so much for your comment to my blog. I had not posted on my blog since this original post for a grad school class several months ago. Your comment has inspired me to get back to my blog as I start teaching. I’ve done a lot of work in preparation for my classes and I want to continue reflecting on my work thus far. As you stated, I think all new teachers go through similar experiences, so blogs are a great way to share ideas. Thanks again for your feedback.

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