I can't believe this is my first blog post of 2024. In case you missed my last blog post, this year, my #oneword2024 is #author. I chose this word because I want to focus on not just telling my story, but creating experiences that celebrate milestones coming this year and also pursuing professional growth opportunities. Two weeks in, I am off to a great start. Since 2024 began, I have run 37.45 miles and yesterday, I hit a new personal record with a 10 min 35 sec mile on my 7 mile run using 4 minute run/1 minute walk intervals. In addition, I am working on two different articles for publications and have submitted 2 more articles for review. Plus, I have some other exciting projects in 2024 in the wings that I can't wait to share with you once they are ready.
TransformED: Amplifying Learning Using Tech Tools
Four weeks ago, I focused on how we can create experiences for our learners to make positive contributions online and by doing so, build relationships and a sense of community. Many times when we discuss interacting with the digital world, we focus on what not to do rather than how to leverage our digital interactions for good. In a world that is changing faster than we could have ever expected, we need to help our learners see the possibilities available to them and how to use them positively.
This week, we will focus on how you, as an educator, can create a learning culture that not only encourages your learners to pursue their interests and passions, but also to view online resources with a critical eye as they do so. It is vital that we help our learners to better understand best practices for using online resources, while also helping to understand whether or not a source is credible or not. With the amazing resources at our disposal with Artificial Intelligence and generative AI, we all have responsibility to help our students determine the validity of the sources they encounter.
How can I help my learners to become responsible and engaged digital citizens?
Creating an Engaging Learning Culture
The ideas behind passion projects is to have your students choose topics related to their interests. You might also see these type of projects called Genius Hour. This school year, I have gotten the opportunity to work with fifth and sixth grade students on passion projects based on their interests. Starting something like this can be challenging and I'll be honest that getting my students to think outside the box and try new things but luckily, there are some great resources available to help educators like us. Check out these resources to get you started ":
Design Thinking is a problem-solving process that takes has people go through a series of steps to better understand the challenge and then determine solutions for the problem. Students start this process by looking at the challenge and using empathy to develop a better understanding of the challenge. Next, using data gathered during the empathy phase, they define the problem that they want to solve. After, they brainstorm possible solutions and determine one that they want to fully develop. They use this idea to create a prototype and then test and refine their solution to improve their design. Last year, I worked with fifth and sixth grade students to use design thinking as we created a student tech team. Here are some of the resources that I used.
Determining the Credibility of Resources
But engaging our students is only part of the puzzle, we also need to make sure that they understand how to determine whether a resource is credible or not. There is so much information available at their digital fingerprints and we need to provide them with the tools to make these important determinations. We live in a world where deep fakes can be created with generative AI and sometimes, AI can produce hallucinations when sharing results. We need to prepare our students to navigate through these challenges.
Consider Using Common Sense Education
Common Sense Media has many amazing resources that can help educators and their students in this pursuit. One of my favorite parts of their website are lessons dedicated to news and media literacy. These lessons start at Grade K when lessons help our students determine if something that they see online is true or not. By Grade 9, lessons address hoaxes and fakes. Definitely check out these lessons on their website by clicking News and Media Literacy You should also check out their grab and go lessons for students in grades 6-12 on AI Literacy. These resources are a great plan for both educators and their students to first understand generative AI and then to prepare students for the future.