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Category: Social Media

To Discern God in the World

As social media exploded with the news of the SCOTUS’ decision, I wondered how this decision would impact the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship conference. Would the agenda change? Would speakers change their prepared manuscripts or would those conversations be saved for individual churches and small groups rather than addressed from the national voice of CBF.

I watched the hashtag for the conference and didn’t see any reports or reflections. If one of the aspects that is impacting church life and church membership is relevancy, then shouldn’t we model this at a national gathering by monitoring and adjusting when a major event in our culture takes place?

Roger Williams adamantly set the foundation of the separation of church and state for baptists, but his vision didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be conversations centering around the impact of state decisions on the church and in particularly the people of the church. Instead, Williams meant that the state would not determine church doctrine and the church wouldn’t determine state laws.

With a decision this controversial, the question remains to be answered, “Will baptists stay true to their foundational belief?”

For CBF, this is a critical point to determine whether they will re-identify their fellowship as a fellowship open to all people or whether they will remain “those baptists who have women preachers.” What better place and time to establish this identity without question than at the national gathering. What will CBF choose?

We’re missing the point

In teaching my second set of students in the Social Media conference, I encountered two unique situations.

The first was that another adult entered the classroom and told the students that they needed to put up their cell phones and pay attention. It took me a couple of seconds to respond, but then I looked over and said, “This is the social media conference. They are actually responding to a survey using their cell phones.” To which, she responded, “Oh.”

The second was when one of students made began to text in her purse and I said, “You know you can take that out of your purse. We are going to be using them all class.”

She looked at me with a confused expression and then literally said out loud, “I feel free.”

If adults are responding to Social Media by limiting access and students who are invited to use Social Media in the classroom are acting in a completely different way, then there’s a disconnect.

We’re missing each other.

We’re missing the point of Social Media, which is to connect to each other.

Experiencing Remembering

I learned early on when I began to blog with students that if you allow too much time to pass between the experience (whether that’s reading, a guest speaker, a field trip) and writing about the experience, then students’ writing becomes stagnant and lifeless.

To truly capture their voices, students need time during the experience to write.

This allows them not only to practice using writing as a means of processing, but also allows them to hold onto the memory of the experience.

So, if you’ve hit that place in students blogs where you feel like students’ voices aren’t coming through, look at when you are asking them to write in comparison to when the actual experience they are writing about occurred. It might be as simple as timing!

So, why the censor?

After one day of my Sexting, Facebooking and Tweeting seminar, I am shocked and amazed, as I always am, by how astute students are.

We began our discussion by asking, “Why do teachers/adults feel like they need to limit access to devices?” They responded with nice, safe answers like “because they want us to be safe” or “because it’s a distraction.”

After I pushed a little, they hit the heart of the issue with answers like “because they don’t understand how it works” and “because it’s easier to manage.”

All of us are operating under motivations that drive our decisions. Are your decisions and school policies based on ease of operation? Are you making rules based on one or two students who misuse their devices for your whole school?

It’s time to rethink our motivation because like it or not, students understand us much more than we understand them.

Shhh Listen

Maybe working with students isn’t about what we want:

Yet many teachers are not comfortable with their student’s media: they don’t listen to the same genre of music; they don’t play video games; they don’t watch the same TV shows or movies which appeal to their students. But they should. Allow me to elaborate.

When I would pick up my son from high school, my Smooth Jazz music was playing from the radio station I listened to in the car. He would invariably hit the button to go to the rock station. I would switch it back. This was constant. Until one day, I got the idea to try to listen to his music. So that’s what I did: he got into the car and his station was playing and it was playing a song from the 70’s that was remade for his generation. To top it all off, I was singing the lyrics. He was astonished that I knew the lyrics to “his” song.  Thus a door to communication had been opened.

Drop your expectations and listen to what students are saying.

How to connect student to student via Twitter

Sometimes, I feel like the conversations about Twitter center around the impact that it can have on professional development too much. I certainly value it for that reason, but I don’t think that students will use it in the same way.

Although I have heard that some teachers are exploring with Twitter in the classroom in ways like back feeding class notes or tweeting as a character from a book, I have not settled on whether these are the best use of the technology. While I can see the benefits, I still think those “integrations” are forced and trite.

Twitter was created with community at the center of purpose.

To connect people.

To connect ideas.

To connect.

So, how can we show students how to connect via Twitter with other students?

Are we connected enough with students to even know where to begin?

Looking for a stronger connection

In preparing for a seminar for youth on social media, I have hit a brick wall. This is not uncommon, I often hit a brick wall in preparing to teach something new, especially when technology is involved; however, in this case I am stuck in the middle.

I have no idea if my students will have any sort of device when they come to my seminar because many of their leaders have taken up their cell phones. I understand the policy and the philosophy where this is coming from. In fact, this isn’t the first time that I have encountered this. I have had parents, fellow teachers and administrators who have limited access to technology and I can think around it.

But when is it going to be common place to find an audience who understands how incredibly deep and meaningful using Social Media in a learning setting can be? When is it going to become common place that instead of making rules to ban technology, we are actually going to have open and honest communication about this form of connecting? When are we going to recognize that maybe, just maybe, if students are connected to their devices, they are actually looking for a deeper connection from us?


A Crack, A Sliver

It is because I know, and have known since graduating from High School that the challenges faced by the education system are many. Everything from chronic funding shortages at many schools and Universities, to a fundamental disconnect between the way education is delivered and the 21st Century.

Preparing your students for University/College has traditionally been though of as the way to guarantee their success. This is no longer the case, and in fact probably has not been for more than a decade. The problem is less in the preparation for University than with the University system itself – it is broken.

Apple saw a crack, a sliver of opportunity and busted it wide open with iTunesU. Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be quite a ride!

Changing Literacy

I just read Princess Academy, a young adult novel, recommended by one of my youth. As a teacher, I read it through different eyes and I was amazed at the way it described literacy development in a mountain village. The desire and passion in one student then transfered to the rest of the village.

Literacy might have changed from the setting of this novel to NCTE definition of 21st century literacties:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies.

Or is it that different?

Does the context change literacy or does literacy shape the social context?