She Skypes. She shoots (video). She scores.
Denise Love, assistant professor of education, has boldly taken her classroom teaching into the next frontier – the virtual one.
In the Instructional Methods class this fall at Keuka College, students learned the ins and outs of classroom methods to teach math, science and social studies. Toward the end of the course, students practiced giving original lessons to one another, and Love integrated Twitter into the project evaluations.
At the end of each student presentation, classmates logged on to Twitter on their smart phones or laptops and posted brief comments. Concise, direct evaluations were necessary because Twitter limits postings to 140 characters.
According to Love, today’s students can best be described as digital “natives,” meaning they have been born and raised with many contemporary technology tools. By contrast, many of today’s adults, those of the Gen X and Boomer generations, are the “digital immigrants,” she said.
“Their learning is different from the way we learn,” Love explained. “We have to take the time to learn [a new technology] and that can be our downfall.”
By permitting a smart phone or laptop in the classroom, Love said she opens up a connection for student learning. Further, students using those tools can find answers quicker than if she sent them home to look up the answer to bring in the following day. Instruction that can keep students motivated and active in their learning will also prevent the distraction of checking e-mails or other electronic distractions, she said.
According to Love, each student presenter in her methods class set up a “hashtag” electronic link for his or her presentation. For example, some read “#operations,” or “#statistically correct,” or “#placevaluesforkids,” which represented their respective lesson plan presentations.
Classmates sitting in on the presentations left comments such as: “Many fun centers.” “Some got too loud.” “Maybe having loud ones spread so loud ones do not interfere w/quiet 1s.”
“It’s beneficial to us students to see the constructive criticism from more than just your professor,” said Gena Morales, whose Twitter ID is Laxmom25.
Morales’s presentation featured lessons in statistics and data analysis for sixth-graders, using a Wii Mario Party 8 game to search out mean, median and mode, and a Candyland game at a different station where students tracked which color came up most often (the mode.)
“Lesson planning all comes down to creativity, so the feedback is great,” said the junior education major from Waterloo. “I had walked out of my ‘game’ class thinking it was a flop, but other students loved the ideas.”
“Any other time when we did evaluations, it was in our [personal] journals, so we didn’t get to see or hear others’ feedback ideas. In this class, it helped, as far as [knowing] what to change in our lesson plans,” Morales explained.
Love did concede it was a bit time-consuming to assist students in first opening Twitter accounts, setting up IDs, learning the how-to’s of hashtags and how to “follow” other Twitter users. However, once over the hurdle of initial setup, students became “quite literate” in it, she said.
“I did the same thing the students did: go in and do a quick evaluation,” said Love, who used classroom projectors to display the live “tweets” being posted as students submitted their electronic evaluations at the end of each class.
Love said she was first inspired to use Twitter because she was going to be in the hospital for a time and wanted to find a way to check in and see how her students’ were faring in class.
Some students got so excited by the exercise they also posted photos of lessons, experiments and other class activities, Love noted, scrolling through images of a hot chocolate experiment and a hand-painted solar system model crafted of Styrofoam balls and thin, wooden sticks.
“The more we can do to help our students understand that we appreciate the technology, the more we can do to open [interactive learning] up to them,” she said.