Tag Archive | facebook

Constantly Connected

Look to your left, and look to your right. One of you is likely busy on your phone. I’m not going to lie: I just checked my phone.

Texting in the Park

Everywhere you look and go, people are constantly communicating. Photo credit to Phil Hutton on Flickr

What’s my point? Everyone, and I mean everyone, has the ability to be constantly connected 24/7. While some may argue that that is bad thing, I would like to look at the positives… sort of. With all the social media available, not including phones that are stuck on the wall (or portable now) in every home, we cannot escape communication. Over the course of a day, I constantly receive text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, and so much more. Some days, I feel bombarded.

Now with this incredible opportunity available, why does it seem that communicating is more of a problem than ever? Thinking back over the last two months, almost every stress in my life, and many of my friends’ lives, has been due to a lack of communication, a miscommunication, or poor communication. How is that possible.

I’m challenging myself (and anyone reading this) to make a concerted effort to communicate and to do it effectively. This means that I am going to take the time to ensure that everyone is on board with what needs to happen/what is happening in all aspects of my life. Lately, I feel that everyone assumes that everybody can read their minds. That seems to be the trend. This only leads to stress for everyone involved. We can send a text, an email, a tweet, a Facebook message, or pick up the ol’ fashion phone and get your ideas/hopes/dreams/expectations/plans/fears/etc. to the people they need to get to. It will make us successful and it will make everyone else around us successful too.

Please note: This post is aimed at a very general audience. I think I can safely say that the contrary is true for communicating with parents. During my internship, parent-teacher communication was absolutely phenomenal and significantly more connected than when I graduated high school four years ago. There are still areas where everyone can improve, but parent-teacher communication is leading by example on extraordinary communication.

Sorry for the rant, but this seems to be something applicable in my life that I needed to reflect on.


I Don’t Want to “Teach” Anymore

I’ve had a very interesting last few weeks. I had the opportunity to go to WestCAST (see the mini-blog series on all the wonderful things I took from it coming soon) last week, and it was reading week. Reading week meant a few things: firstly, I got to sleep in, and secondly, I had time alone with my thoughts.

I’ve decided to make quite a few life changes and start taking my self more seriously. On the whole, I am a very serious person, but I found as of late that I’ve got a huge need to impress. That has all changed. I’m in it for me now.

Now that I’ve kept you all in suspense, I will clarify, I wholeheartedly want to be a teacher in the professional sense. I do not, however, want to bethat teacher who stands up at the chalkboard and lectures on end while her class may or may not be listening. Who is to say that I have all the knowledge in the classroom? Heck, the majority of my students, if not all of them at some point, have or will have access to a mobile device that will enable them to access the internet. This for me means a few things: (1) I want wifi in my classroom, (2) I’m no longer the smartest person in the room, (3) I need to get out of the textbook habits, (4) I can let my students direct their own learning.

With this huge mind shift, I’ve decided to really investigate a few things–inquiry-base learning, flipped classrooms, and assessment.

Inquiry for me was always pretty scary. It is the assignment where you need to account for every single “what if” possible. I understood inquiry as a way for me to secretly lead my students to the answer by predicting their every move. Writing that actually seems pretty creepy, if you ask me. So my question to myself is, “What harm would it be if the students stumbled in a different direction than I was headed?” The obvious answer is that it might not be in the curriculum or that it could “waste” valuable teaching time. This is where I’m at loggerheads with myself: if the students are productively learning and engaged, what harm am I really doing? I don’t have the answer for this, but I suspect I’ll keep soul-searching on this one for a while and see where I end up.

With regard to flipped classrooms, I am hugely intrigued by this. I’ve completely revamped a personal project for one of my classes because I want to do this. If you aren’t sure what a flipped classroom is, check out Kyle Webb’s blog post about it. He sums it up REALLY nicely. I think this is a necessary step for me. I know that during my internship, I had a few students who seemed to follow along just fine in class, then absolutely floundered during homework. It seemed like there was never enough time to “reteach” a few students, so they had a pretty tough time in my class. So what would my classroom look like if I flipped it? My students would watch a short video teaching the topic we are on and answer a couple of questions on it (similar to bell work, but homework). They would come to class, have a chance to ask questions similar to a group discussion, then go to work on their assignment. There would be an ENTIRE HOUR where I would be available to help my students–both the strong and the weak–on their assignments. This, I feel, would make me a better “teacher.”

Now the part that I get caught up about with this is that I’m still teaching. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to see what I can find to flip the flipped classroom into an inquiry-based learning experience. I agree that teacher-centred learning has it’s place, and I’m not going to abolish it, but I do want to get a variety of teaching methods within the flipped classroom.

Lastly, I’ve been pondering assessment. Most definitely with a flipped classroom, my anecdotal assessment abilities have the potential to be through the roof. I could make time to check in with each student every single day. Again, having this knowledge would make me a better “teacher” so that I can specifically develop each lesson to the student needs. Isn’t that the goal of teaching? Education for everyone?

So this is where I’m standing right now: I don’t want to be the star of my classroom, I don’t have to be the star of my classroom, and I shouldn’t be the star of my classroom. I have to get over the “no cellphones”/”no iPods“/”no twitter”/”no texting”/”no internet”/”no youtube”/whatever other arbitrary rules that are inhibiting student success. This sounds like a brilliant fairytale for my future classroom. I know it will be hard and it won’t happen all at once, but I know where I want to end up. That end point may change as my students change, society changes, and I change, but I know the general direction I am headed, and, man, it feels good.

Living Facebook

Last night, John Spencer visited our ECMP 455 class, who spoke to us about “Living Facebook.” Basically, his premise was that everything you do on facebook, you do in real life. So for example, if he would have “liked” something on facebook, he would give a big thumbs up and proclaim that he liked something. Similarly, he started writing on people’s walls (window’s actually) with non-permanent markers. He did all sorts of things like this with relation to facebook and how it functions.

This got me thinking about how digitally I interact way more than I do in person. It is so strange how easy and convenient it is to send a text message or write on someone’s wall. It’s very quick to post “Happy Birthday!” when it’s someone’s birthday, but wouldn’t it mean more if I phoned them or just stopped by to say so? What about a good old fashioned card in the mail even. I love to get mail.

With this in mind, I decided that I would make a concerted effort this week to ensure that I am working toward verbalizing or (to invent a new word) “physicalizing ” the cyber space within which I live.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m sworn off facebook and twitter. I have become pretty attached to them in the last few weeks especially. I’m building my professional community, and I know I have grown up quite a bit just from sharing in this capacity (I’m refering directly to twitter). I also know that there is no way that I could possibly keep up with everyone from all over the world without these social media applications. They definitely have a very distinct purpose in my life. However, why can’t I make the effort to “physicalize” as much as I can for the people around me? This ties into part of my plan for Lent: I decided that this year I was going to give up/improve upon two things. The first is my snooze button. Less than a week into Lent, and this has been HARD. It’s getting easier though. The second thing I am giving up is negativity in my life. Due to this complete 180 that I’ve had in the last few weeks, I’ve worked really hard at building my professional community and now I want to extend these positive changes into my real life too.

This talk couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Thank you, John!

The Power of Facebook

Hey everyone,

So I was just inspired. I was on facebook. Yes, you heard me – facebook has inspired me to write a blog.

Well, after my numbers rant, I decided that I kind of like to rant (or rave) on specific topics. Today, my target is facebook.

Most of you probably have facebook. I know I do. I don’t know that I could be classified as OCFD (Obsessive Compulsive Facebook Disorder) but I do know that I log in very regularly. I wouldn’t say an unhealthy amount, but more than I thought I ever would when I signed up for the digital drug we all call facebook. Not going to lie, but I need my daily fix they way some people need coffee (I usually prefer my facebook in the afternoon though, not in the early morning).

Facebook has truly transformed my life, as well as the lives of those around us for many reasons. To start off with, I love its birthday reminder. When I first got a hotmail (I think I was maybe eleven, but I loved to get junk mail because it made me feel important) I signed up for that email birthday tracker, but honestly, how many people would actually respond to the website and send out their birthday info? Maybe six? With facebook, I know when almost all my friends birthdays are. I can send them a birthday wish, or remember to phone them up for coffee or something. I am terrible at remembering birthdays (it’s genetic sadly, as my dad forgot my sixteenth birthday) so with this, I don’t really have to. Of course, my Gramma doesn’t have facebook, let alone a computer, so I’ll just be extra  careful to remember it, but for the most part, all of the birthdays I would normally forget, I now can be reminded! Honestly, who can remember 400 people’s birthdays? (Answer: facebook).

Facebook also is great for notifying. This leads into my slowly evolving epiphany. To start, I went to Ireland for three weeks this summer and was completely incommunicato for the entire time, which was nice to be completely disconnected, which, I again won’t lie, was very nice. But when I got back, I didn’t know what had happened all summer, had 200 some emails, and bunch of notifications on my facebook home page. I got caught up pretty quickly (but it was aided by a few sleepovers and coffee breaks). So I began not to think of myself as a facebook junkie, as much, at least because I know if I really want to, I can quit and not die.

Next event that aided my epiphany – when I got home, I began to slowly resume my life. I started dating my boyfriend, and then changed my relationship status – with in 24 hours friends from everywhere (including Italy) were inquiring and keeping updated. It was kind of weird, but cool to see how just a ten second post got to so many people.

Another thing that helped my epiphany evolve was today: I logged on to facebook, and low and behold, my friend is engaged! Holy! You see, I haven’t really been able to talk to her for about a year and a half now, just because since high school our lives have gone in separate directions. Now, honestly, I would have never known that had it not been for facebook.

So I’ll get to my point now, my epiphany. I have decided that facebook isn’t just about having another account somewhere and just solely for social purposes. It is a very effective medium for communication. You can easily connect with friends (I can chat with my Aunt and cousin in Nova Scotia easily) and network (I am friends with the editor of a magazine completely dedicated to baton twirling), catch up on what’s new in the lives of your friends, share pictures (instead of mailing around albums or paying to print of a bazillion copies of a roll of film) and video, support causes, show pride in groups, become a fan of specific things (I don’t think I am a fan of anyone/thing right now, but we’ll see) and so much more. How cool is that? Really and truly, you couldn’t possibly be able to email with four hundred friends to see how they are all doing. It just isn’t feasible. But you can with facebook.

Now, I know that there are still skeptics out there who refuse to join the digital drug or try to just be different (AKA my boyfriend) but facebook has become a medium for communication, not just a website. Facebook has even become regular in language! [“Wanna go for coffee?” “Oh sure! Just facebook me when and where!”, “I’ll put these pics on facebook”, “When are you coming home?” “I’ll write on your wall when I geth home.”] All of these examples just go to prove that facebook is part of our culture the way hamburgers are.

The is one major problem, as there is with any drug – abuse. When does facebook become unhealthy? When does it become a replacement for normal social functioning? When does it become an alterior life? When is it unproffessional to facebook with an aquaintance?  These are all boundaries that are personal and need to be set and strictly enforced by the user. I know how hard it can be to say “only five minutes today, then I must do my homework” but it needs to be done. It is key to set out guidelines for appropriate use as well.

My coach, who moved to Virginia, would not add us as friends until she moved away, just to keep a professional distance. My choral instructor wouldn’t add us until we graduated from high school. I use a limited profile for my students who add me.

Okay, that brings me to another point. I think there is some problem when a seven year old has facebook. Firstly, she lied about her age to get it. Secondly, she can barely spell so she can barely type. Thridly, why isn’t she out playing with her friends? This really concerns me, almost more than little kids with cell phones.


So in conclusion of this rather crazy and somewhat incoherant rant, I have to say that facebook is like coffee. It is great, however you like it. There just comes a point when it is too much. So, pretty much all I’m saying is that there needs to be boundaries, but those boundaries shouldn’t stop you from networking and interacting. Facebook is somewhat new medium for communication, so don’t stamp it out, but handle with care.