Tone, English Class, and Electronic Tattoos

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.56.19 PMHere’s the understatement of the day: social media is a thing. If you are 13-18 years old, it’s THE thing, when thinking about communication and connection with friends. For high schoolers–and often younger students–Instagram and Twitter are today’s personal scrapbooks, snarky commentary forums, and ‘Dear Diary’ platforms. And, for the most part, these forums are public with a capital P. Twenty-first century students desperately need guidance in using these sites–and the public connections they generate–wisely.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.06.16 PMHedy McGrath, an English teacher at Fishers High School, believes strongly that teachers have an important role to play in educating students on what it means to be a wise social media user. HSE21 Shorts recently spent an afternoon in Mrs. McGrath’s eleventh grade English class. With thought-provoking clarity, McGrath deftly wove the day’s English objective (on ‘tone’) into a lesson connecting tone in literature to tone in our digital footprints–those lasting Tweets and images that make up our personal online trails.

A TED talk by Juan Enriquez entitled, Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo, provided background information and added credibility to McGrath’s big idea that tone is not only recognizable in literature–it’s made clear on our social media profiles as well. In cyberspace, however, the tone we want to project may not be at all what the reader perceives. McGrath challenged her students to revisit their own recent Tweets, photos, and/or posts, looking for the overall tone that comes across in their personal writings and illustrations. Just as tattoos are difficult to erase or remove, so are the online trails we leave behind.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.11.30 PMFinally, students were encouraged to take an action step. Choose one word that accurately describes the tone you want to convey in social media. For example: loyal, friendly, honest, or committed. Delete any social media posting that doesn’t convey that tone to the world and, from now on, filter any potential posting through this word. A few of the words chosen that day: caring, determined, funny, open-minded, loving, outgoing, successful, and honest. Clearly, the next generation is on the right track.

Twitter in the Classroom?!

When my children were young, reading class newsletters was always a highlight. These newsletters were my window into the learning activities my children had been experiencing throughout a given week. Weekly newsletters prompted great interaction at home, because I then had ideas of questions to ask my children about their learning! But I had to wait until Friday.

Today’s digital tools, however, have changed the communication game. Through social media, communication happens simply and quickly–even ‘in the moment’. Some of HSE’s elementary teachers are making the most of new digital communication venues to give parents glimpses into their children’s learning in nearly real-time.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.34.03 PMTwitter has become the preferred venue for real-time classroom communication. With a quick camera click, a short typed phrase, and an ‘upload’, a teacher can give his/her students’ families a window into learning that day. Instead of dinner conversation like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.31.41 PMMom: “What did you do in school today, Jimmy?”

Jimmy: “I dunno. Stuff. It was fun.”

Conversation suddenly becomes much richer:

Mom: Jimmy! I heard that your class Skyped Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.28.18 PMwith a third-grade class in Alaska today. Was that fun?”

Jimmy: “Yeah! Their class had 28 people and they get to wear snow shoes to school sometimes and once they had a moose on their playground and…”

You get the idea. Using digital tools to deepen the home-school connection. Another aspect Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.29.46 PMof HSE21.

Twitter Glimpses, Part 2

Yesterday’s post highlighted the Twitter accounts of Hamilton Southeastern’s elementary buildings. As with elementary, HSE’s secondary schools make use of Twitter as a 21st century communication tool–these accounts highlight important announcements and happenings from specific buildings, and are one quick way to keep informed. Here are our intermediate, junior high, and high school building-specific Twitter accounts:

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*As stated yesterday, don’t forget to also follow @HSESchools and @HSE_21 for a more complete picture of Hamilton Southeastern Schools!

Glimpse Into Classrooms with Twitter

If you attended school years ago, you may remember teachers typing up and copying newsletters to send home each week. These printed updates listed important announcements and shared class happenings. For HSE schools and some teachers today, though, classroom announcements and happenings are often shared in real-time through social media. In addition to the @HSESchools Twitter account (district announcements & highlights), and our @HSE_21 account (21st century teaching & learning focus), many of our school buildings have Twitter accounts of their own. If you haven’t connected with HSE school buildings on Twitter, here are some elementary school accounts to get you started! We’ll share secondary school accounts tomorrow!

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Day 37 – Learning to Summarize…Using Tweets (#140charactersmax)

Eighth grade English teacher Stephanie Dalton illustrates how creativity in lesson planning (along with some insight into what motivates young teens) can lead to deeper understanding and interaction with text. 

dalton2Last night, my students read chapter two of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  This early 20th century text presents a challenge for my students–especially in the beginning.  The core of the piece is the dreaded curse cast upon the Baskerville Estate which is presented in chapter two–last night’s homework assignment.

In class today, it was important to revisit the curse in order to deepen our understanding of this core text element. So, we tweeted about it. I asked each student to create an imaginary Twitter handle to identify themselves, and to write a 140-character tweet about the first event of the curse. Then we passed our iPads to our neighbors and had them continue the fake Twitter feed. dalton1During this time, student were welcome to skim their text so their tweets were accurate with the text itself. After six passes, we had a great summary of the curse as well as some laughter about our chosen hashtags. The best part of this lesson was students’ deep and critical thinking. The summary is easy; making hilarious hashtags was the challenge!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud.

Submitted by Stephanie Dalton, Riverside Junior High, English

Day 26 – #Dot Day: @TeamMurch4 Makes Their Mark

murch2After discovering the #Dot Day on Twitter, students from Mrs. Murch’s 4th grade class decided to join the creating, celebrating and, most importantly, the connecting during this day! Students were challenged to think outside the box and create their own unique dots, math games that incorporated concepts using dots, writing activities and goals all around message of the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Students and teachers were challenged to think of ways they were “going the make their mark” on the world; they had time to self-reflect and set goals for this school year and for the future.


Dot Day also provided Mrs. Murch’s class with the opportunity to work toward another class goal for the year: 50 states in 180 days via Skype in the Classroom. 50 States in 180 Days challenges students to connect with all 50 states this school year through #Mystery Skype. @TeamMurch was able to add two more United States schools because of Dot Day! They also participated in their first international Skype with a school in Canada! Students read and discussed their perspective of The Dot with 2nd graders in New York, and they shared and explained their “dots” creations with 5th & 6th graders in Canada–they even learned a bit of French during the call! Finally, they shared their writing and ways of making their mark with students in TN. Dot Day was an amazing HSE_21 day for all learners!

-Submitted by Amy Murch, Brooks School Elementary, 4th Grade