Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments, Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #5: Karen Knight, Spanish Teacher and LOTE Department Chair

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My department chair, Karen Knight, and I were discussing assignments for our remote learning experience that could potentially extend through the end of the year. “I want to give them a memory, Padrah. I don’t want to assign them 150 questions that won’t mean anything to them later.”

Exactly.

Karen proposed an idea that I absolutely love and will adopt for my classes in the coming weeks. Her students will be creating a scrapbook about their lives and the world during this global pandemic. The project builds upon itself with new themes or chapters for each week, with flexible expectations of responses written in the target language. Here is a breakdown of themes we brainstormed:

Week 1 – Current events headlines: Students gather current events articles and explain and summarize COVID-19, how it started and has evolved over the weeks. Students could elaborate on how it has specifically affected their community.

Week 2 – Family, activities, and the “New Normal”: Ask students to gather pictures and tell about their family. What are their ages? Jobs? Do they no longer work or work from home because of the pandemic? Most importantly, have your students discuss what their lives are from day-to-day now that they are at home. Have they been on more walks or spent more time with family?

Week 3 – A little humor: The memes, the GIFs, the videos of what people are doing to pass their time during stay-at-home orders are all pulling everyone through this with a smile. Have students recreate their favorites in the target language.

Week 4 – Twenty years from now…: What do students think the world will look like post-pandemic? Will we be more prepared and learn from this experience? Many schools and businesses have had to alter their ways. Will there be an overhaul to how we operate?

Week 5 – Reflection: Give your students an opportunity to express how they are feeling during this time and how it has impacted their lives. I would strongly encourage different mediums in which the students could present. Some are more comfortable with written or spoken words. For others, a drawn picture alleviates the pressure of speaking. Give an outline of reflection questions that can guide the students.

Presentation styles: There are various presentation options that a student can choose from for his or her final product. While we are living by the motto of “Keep it simple” in this teaching era, I believe that the more options you present, the better. Students only need to choose one, but by giving them alternatives, it accounts for their learning style preference as well as resources available to them. I could not possibly list all the resources available but here is a start:

Paper is always an option. Karen Knight proposed to the other Spanish teachers to accept this project at the beginning of next school year for a grade or extra credit.

Flipgrid presents a user-friendly video option. Even if students have a hard copy of their scrapbook, they could bring it to life by narrating it in a video.

Wakelet allows for beautiful digital storytelling, easily allowing students to add current events headlines as well as paragraphs with their own commentary and reflections.

Book Creator, Storyboard That, StoryJumper, Adobe Spark are other creative outlets for digital storytelling.

Google Slides can include text, pictures, videos, and be customized to the student’s taste.

Handwritten, recorded on video, collected into a digital format…no matter which option your student chooses, you gave them choice. Most importantly, though, you gave them a memory.

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #2: Be Internet Awesome with Google

“Kids are inherently curious.”

Be Internet Awesome, a Google platform for children to become better digital citizens, is fairly new in the past couple years but gaining more and more attention in recent months. Let’s take a look at what you can find in this program.

Be Internet Awesome is “helping kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.” Kids will always be curious but can access information (good and bad) in a simple click more easily than ever before. None of us are naive to the potential online dangers and Google has presented this program for students, families, and educators.

An overview:

“If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.”

Google’s Internet Code of Awesome is straightforward and pure common sense. The fundamentals are to be internet smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave. Common issues are addressed, such as responsibly communicating with others. This can range from online strangers and scams to cyber bullying. Whether it’s not clicking on every message or pop-up you see on your screen to securing your password, Google covers the most common issues facing our students today. For example, Google asks students to treat other online users as if they were face-to-face. If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.

Resources

Google has provided a 98-page curriculum (updated 2019) for teachers (or families) to use, extensively covering how to share with care, not fall for fake, secure your secrets, exhibit kindness online, and know when to seek help from an adult. The accompanying printables include a parent letter, activities, a family guide, internet tips, and a pledge. (See above links.) The curriculum provides rich discussion and activities to truly embed the importance and understanding of responsible digital citizenship. A further seal of approval? Google’s 2019 curriculum has the ISTE Seal of Alignment.

Image source: https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en_us

Play safe. Learn safe. Stay safe.

Interland is the interactive platform to engage students in what they learn from their families and teachers. Four challenging games engrain these valuable lessons. Students can learn to discern fake sites or offers on the Reality River, then travel to Mindful Mountain where they learn to share with care. The Tower of Treasure will secure their secrets and Kind Kingdom teaches that it’s cool to be kind.

Let’s take a look at Kind Kingdom: Students are asked to report negative behavior in order to restore the peaceful nature among the kingdom. Players collect hearts to spread kindness to sad internauts who need some love. Ten points are awarded with each thumbs up or heart given to another character. Block the monsters who spread negativity (a clear bullying example)!

Google has provided a thorough and interactive program for students, their families, and educators to be engaged in their digital citizenship responsibility. While the program is intended for younger students, the materials could be applied across all ages. I would strongly encourage teachers to involve parents as we all transition technology into our classrooms. Teachers often field the questions and issues of tech use, how much tech, too much tech, not the right use or amount of tech…the list goes on. Google makes it easy for us to open the conversation to parents and provide ample resources to tackle this challenge together. If we fail to teach smart digital citizenship, would we not be doing a disservice to our students?