Kicking Off Back to School with Camera Fun

As we prepare for the start of school, and hundreds of eager minds bouncing into our buildings, many educators kickoff the school year with activities to foster community within their classrooms. When designing an appropriate “start of the year” activity, one should consider:

  1. How will this activity invite students to share something special about themselves?
  2. Will this promote relationships and foster an inclusive community?
  3. How can this activity be a scaffold or act as “jumping off point” into the learning that will be taking place?

With these considerations in mind, I offer you Four activities to Kick Off Back to School with Camera Fun! Whether using the camera on their phone, laptop, or tablet, students use of images plays tenfold in the classroom. First, it provides a perfect opportunity to embed learning of a tool they will use throughout the year in a meaningful task. Second, utilizing the camera contributes to the further understanding of communication through images. Third, talking about digital citizenship, which would include copyright, is important to thread throughout the year, why not start early! Finally, it is fun! We live in a world where a daily “selfie” is a norm.

Passion GIF

A GIF is a perfect way to have students share a passion, create an animation, dig into Google Photos or other GIF apps, and would be applicable in furture projects. GIFs are easily embeddable, tweeted, and shared.
image

6 Word Memoir 

6 Word Memoirs, a favorite with my seniors, are a great way to gain insight into a student’s life. This reflective activity asks students to examine their life “journey” and summarize who they are in 6 words. A picture with the text is a great addition to this activity and has students consider how images enhance their message!
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Shelfie

This summer, Beth Holland shared a strategy with me that helped her learn names and build community, which has inspired this one. A “Shelfie” is when a student takes a selfie with their fovorite book or current read. As a literacy lover, making reading social while sharing good titles with classmates is a win-win. Beth used this “Selfie” idea during a workshop and had participants embed their picture, name, position and learning goal on a Padlet wall. In the classroom, this could serve as a way to learn names of students and classmates; add a learning objective or sharing point and viola’… a digital wall of “Shelfies”.

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Visual Seating Chart

A great introduction and foundational activity to complete with students is to create a visual seating chart. Using the camera found on their device or phone have students snap a picture, change settings to auto-flip pictures, rename the image, and attach to an email. All of these steps will help students create and organize in future projects. A visual seating chart is especially appreciated by subs and visitors.

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As Devin Schoening says, “Say No to Nonsense!” and while many educators and students detest icebreakers, these activities are meant to be embeded within content, aligned to learning targets, and help to build relationships within the classroom. While there are many other activities that educators could do with “camera fun” to start the school year (and even more with video options) these are a few ideas that are sure to get your students engaged, active and honing skills that will be applicable throughout the year! Have a great start to the school year!

5 Ways to Kick-Start “Back to School” Using Social Media in the Classroom

Fotor

5 Ways to Kick-Start “Back to School” Using Social Media in the Classroom

1. Instagram – A traditional activity to help students build relationships with each other and the teacher is an “About Me” poster. Why not use the popular social media platform, Instagram, instead, we know a lot of our students buy active instagram followers so their posts are probably going to go viral. Using a class hashtag, students can tag posted pictures, sharing everything from their favorite spot to read in the school to an important person in their life. Not only would this be a collective space to grow relationships, but during the in-class sharing, students could refine communication and storytelling skills.

2. Voxer – This trendy, new social media platform allows voxers to continue the conversation through various modes including text, voice, and pictures via a threaded discussion. Students could share goals with each other, provide advice to underclassmen, or answer questions posed by new students or visitors. This versatile platform makes collaboration a snap; easily pass pictures, ideas, or voice comments to group-mates.

3. Twitter – Twitter is quickly becoming the new “Facebook” for people under 21 (mostly because their parents aren’t on it yet). Teachers can model advantages of connectivity by tweeting with a “Sister School”. Succinct writing opportunities to share a glimpse into the “life” of a typical teen in their demographic area provides a lens to students unmatched through vicarious means. Multiple perspectives of current events and issues, connecting to experts, networking, and building a positive, on-line presence are all possible in 140 characters.

4. Facebook – Personal triumphs, recognizing good deeds, daily gratitude to those who helped you survive another school day; all of these posts on a School’s Facebook Page which is designated to share the unrecognized “Good” that takes place daily in the halls of our schools, can be achieved through Facebook.  Submissions can remain anonymous, and messages approved and posted by a small group of students. When ownership is placed back into the hands of  students, their contributions become a recognizable part of the positive culture!

5. Remind – A safe and free way to text students, athletes, and parents. The cellphone: the first thing a students checks when they wake and the last thing looked at before bed. Creating groups in Remind early in the school year, as a communication tool, saves time and guarantees that everyone receives the same message. From an athletic team, a school club, or even classroom assignments, Remind allows teachers to text important news and reminders that will reach students and parents alike.

Best of Luck in the 2014-2015 School Year!