Current events 10: Twitter hashtags in the classroom

I’ve been trying to learn more about hashtags, and Twitter in general! I received a mini-lesson from our IT consultant which helped me understand their function much better. I found the following blog entry which, although a bit over my head, did give me some ideas for incorporating Twitter into my teaching at the high school level.

George Couros, the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, discusses the use of Twitter hashtags in the classroom.

In a recent entry in his blog, The Principal of Change: Stories of learning and leading, Couros shares a useful list of educator hashtags and suggests ways in which educators can use hashtags in their practice.

Couros also offers a helpful step-by-step how-to explanation of how teachers can start up hashtags for their classes, as well as advantages of using hashtags with students.


Current events 9: Learning – the unplugged version

While many Edmonton schools embrace iPads and Netbooks as vital learning tools, the Waldorf Independent School of Edmonton has chosen an unplugged model for learning. Students at Waldorf learn without televisions, computers or Web 2.0 devices, istead availing themselves of different types of wireless learning learning tools and methods.

Waldorf Education Society vice-president, Netta Johnson, says of the philosophy, “I think it’s the difference between teaching a child math and teaching a child to use a calculator. If you teach a child to write, it’s a different experience than teaching a child to type”.

Read more on the Edmonton Journal’s Web site.

Current events 8: OneFeat, a fun and motivational photo sharing site!

I just found out about , a social photo sharing page, which I think could be a great way to motivate kids doing a photography unit.

On OneFeat, users suggest various missions to complete by taking and sharing thematic photographs. Some examples of themes are “Snap street art that really rocks“, “Eat something local“, and “Get to the end of the world“. The missions leave a lot to interpretation, and are a fun way to think about the world around us, as well as the best way to share it through photography.

Basically, users post their photos, and others can “like” them. One earns points according to the number of people who “like” his posted photo. As one collects points, he moves through levels and unlocks prizes.

Here are the basics, as explained on the Web site:


  1. Choose the mission
    Select a mission from the thousands available or create one you want the whole world to achieve.
  2. Do the Feat
    Take the greatest photo ever to complete the mission.
  3. Share the greatness
    The more people like your feat, the more points you earn! Compete with the world, build your own destiny and get to the next level.

I think students will get a kick out of using this site!

Current events 7: London teachers say tech tools improve reading

London, ON teachers say that tech tools such as smart phones are helping struggling learners learn how to read. Teachers at Amethyst School say that they have seen reading scores improve considerably due, in part, to instruction using smart phones.

Watch the video at CANOE TV

Current events 6: Smart phones and tablets in BC classrooms

BC students will be encouraged to bring their cell phones and tablets to school, as part of the province’s plan to “personalize” learning, and to “keep them tech-savvy”. Read the story in the GLOBE AND MAIL.

Personally, I am hopeful that more schools will allow the use of smart phones and hand-held devices, as they are increasingly valuable in the classroom. Despite the debate that often arises – I know our school has a “NO cell phones during class time” policy – I feel we need to embrace such devices as useful educational tools.

Furthermore, I believe that School Divisions owe it to our students to provide this type of technology, to prevent those who cannot afford such tools from missing out on this important learning.

This story brought to mind an initiative at one of our Division (Prairie South)’s schools, involoving iPads in a grade 2 classroom. Fore more information, watch the PRAIRIE SOUTH VIDEO.

Current events 4: Blackberry “outage” of 2011

When my husband travels for business, he usually calls every few days, but he BBM’s me daily, sometimes several times a day. So, imagine my concern when I hadn’t heard from him for 2 days while he was away in Germany last week.

Finally, I received an email explaining that Blackberry service was down, and his Torch had now become nothing more than, in his words, “a large clock”.

The next day, news had spread of the “crisis” in Europe, and the problem quickly hopped the pond to North America.

It occurs to me that we are now so dependent on tools that, not too many years ago, did not even exist, that we consider it catastrophic when they fail. I know Darren felt somewhat lost without his professional lifeline, and the 300+ emails that awaited him when he returned home were less than appreciated. I heard stories of those who missed job opportunities and important information, all due to the lack of connectivity.

Maybe the fact that we have become so comfortable with this type of technology, assuming that it will always work seamlessly, is the very reason for the “crisis” that ensues when it does not.

To add insult to injury for RIM, Apple was due to come out with its latest toy, the iPhone 4s the following weekend. I imagine many former BB devotees were camping out at Apple stores all over the world.

For more on the Blackberry problem, check out this NEWS STORY and the following video:

Current events 5: Apple – giving a “voice” to communication

While the world has been typing instructions into calendars, texting, IM-ing, Tweeting and blogging, Apple is coming up with ways to incorporate voice into some of these things easily.

One such tool is Yiip, which has been compared to “Twitter for voice clips”. Users can “tweet” short voice recordings instead of typing out text messages.

Another recent development is Siri, Apple’s voice assistant on the iPhone 4s. Users can instruct Siri through simple voice commands to wake them up at a specific time, find a coffee shop, and many other useful tasks. Much more convenient and simpler than taking the time to enter text!

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