In this blog post, teacher Vicki Davis writes that despite what teachers have been told, using social media in the classroom can benefit lessons and does not cause distractions. Davis shares 12 ways teachers are using social media now, including posting on Facebook or tweeting as a class, writing blog posts about what students are learning and using Facebook to get feedback on students' online projects.
For teachers interested in implementing project-based learning this school year, it actually may be best to wait a few weeks -- laying the foundation first -- before launching such efforts, writes John Larmer, editor-in-chief at the Buck Institute for Education. In this blog post, he also shares four competencies that he says students need for PBL, including critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity and innovation.
Social media sites such as Foursquare and Facebook are changing how people experience history, with thousands "checking in" at historic sites or "liking" such sites on their online profiles. Besides these platforms, the Civil War Trust, a nonprofit battlefield preservation group, has released 11 mobile applications to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Some tour guides say these tools can help fill the gaps when there are not enough guides, but they also appeal to students who enjoy using their mobile devices to learn about history, retired high-school history teacher Jim Percoco said.
Some students at Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District in Oakland, N.J., will get firsthand experience in foreign travel during a trip to Ecuador this summer. Social studies teacher Brian McGrath said students will be given a budget and then they must make their own decisions regarding such things as food, transportation and accommodations. "It can be a culture shock to go somewhere different and see how differently people live there," McGrath said. "It gives them a more global view, to see how things are interconnected and how people around the world live their lives," he added.
The enrollment in honors classes at the California middle school where teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron works does not reflect the racial and cultural breakdown of the student body. In this blog post, Wolpert-Gawron writes that honors classes are dominated by Asian students, while Latinos often avoid them. She writes that this is not unusual in the education system and that this trend can be stopped by helping students view education as inclusive -- giving all students the same opportunities to succeed.