Monday, April 22, 2013

Educational Collaboration Through Pinterest

Pinterest screenshot by Erin Mulder

You've probably heard of Pinterest, the online, quick-sharing, social networking pin board where you can share pretty much anything and everything. It's used for sharing photos, websites, crafts, recipes, videos, etc., by 'pinning' the item you want to share to a 'board'. You can even follow specific people and subscribe to their pins if you especially like the type of stuff they repin. Your followers can view your pins and boards and can repin the items they like. A lot of people have boards dedicated to crafts, food, wedding ideas, animals, quotes, etc., but the board that I pin on the most is my "Teacher Things" board. There is so much educational material on Pinterest; it's incredible. All you have to do is search for something education-related and thousands of pins appear showing everything from lesson plans to classroom management techniques to new educational theories and technologies.

Although Pinterest is typically thought of as a fun, time-wasting activity (it's a great procrastination tool!), I see great value in Pinterest as a collaboration tool for teachers. It's extremely easy to share your ideas with other teachers and get ideas from other teachers, too. There are lots of free activities and project ideas that you can do in your classroom or tweak to make them your own. Pinterest is the ultimate collaboration tool. It makes it possible to see thousands of examples of what other teachers are doing in their classrooms, and allows you to take those ideas and add your own creativity to Pinterest for the world to see. Nothing like this has ever been possible before; you can't achieve this sort of share-power through snail mail, email...not even necessarily by sitting down with someone and bouncing ideas off of eachother. Pinterest allows you to become connected with thousands, maybe even millions, of educators and gives you free access to all of the resources and creativity that each of these educators bring.

Best of all? Pinterest is fun!

Here's a great article about some of the pros that Pinterest presents for educators.

or,

check out this site to see the top 20 best Pinterest Boards about Educational Technology.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cursive Conundrum



I stumbled onto this article by Ian Jukes this week and learned that there is a bill that is being passed in North Carolina that brings multiplication tables and cursive handwriting back into the classroom. This bill is called Back to Basics and requires 5th graders to know how to write in cursive and memorize the multiplication tables.

I had to learn both of these skills when I was growing up (even though I was homeschooled...yes we still learn things!), and I can see the value in both of them. Multiplication tables are really helpful because there are lots of times when you just need to know what two numbers multiplied together are and you may not have the time or resources to do heavy calculation. I can see why they would place their focus on that.

However, I'm not sold on bringing cursive back. (I understand that this bill is being passed in North Carolina, not Iowa, but it got me thinking about the topic.) I learned cursive by using the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series, but even though I technically know how to use cursive, I rarely do. The only time I do is when writing my signature, and even that isn't necessarily required to be in cursive, as long as I do it the same way every time. When I write things out on paper, I'm usually in a hurry and would never write in cursive in a normal setting; it takes longer for me and requires a lot more thought on my part. If given the chance, I type my notes, etc., on my laptop.

Typing is so much faster than writing it out on paper, and you can delete and rearrange text as you  need to. Students in the 21st century thrive on computers and technology. If given the change, I'd bet that 9 out of 10 students would type an assignment on a computer instead of hand write everything out on paper. Even my sister, a serious writer and published-author-to-be, types out all of her stories on her laptop because it's so much more efficient.

I admit that in some circumstances, it is necessary to hand write things. Once upon a time, people had to learn to adapt to technology and start using pens and pencils as their primary writing tools. But now, perhaps, our primary writing tools are changing. Obviously kids have to know how to use a paper and pencil. But do they really have to spend time and energy learning how to write in cursive when they only seldom write in print, let alone in cursive?  Do we, as teachers, have the time and energy needed to teach them this skill? I feel as though cursive is unnecessary, at least as far as public education is concerned, and that time can be better used elsewhere, perhaps toward improving students' typing skills.

Photo from Flickr.com, by Chrissy Johnson1, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsj1/4441258076/