Is there any redemption for Snapchat?

SnapchatI know I have personally thought, what possible good can come from Snapchat. But then on November 20, 2015, Sam Russel ’16 posed this story: Snapchat is Here! RJ Media were using Snapchat as a force for good. Since then, I have found this post listing these 10 Snapchat Accounts to Follow. Some of the highlights:

  1. fallontonight – What I like about this account is its simplicity. It’s the account for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show. It is mostly used to highlight the upcoming guest for the night but they also do some things with ticket giveaways and viewer engagement as well.

  2. newyorkermag – They do a great job of not just showing off recent work, but giving some background stories on the content. Whether it’s talking with a cartoonist or giving an in-depth look behind the most recent cover of the New Yorker, they do a nice job with the account and post frequently.

  3. nowthisnews – If you’re looking for a news account that really taps into the drawing capabilities of the medium, check out nowthisnews. Most days, they work to give a handful of news headlines in a great graphic display. The news is often the top headlines of the day, but they also mix it up with some off-beat stories from time to time.

  4. tacobell – One of the earliest brands to make a splash on Snapchat, Taco Bell has been there since 2013 and does a variety of things to creatively engage their target audience and share news. You can read a bit about their background with the medium here in a post on Mashable “Why Taco Bell Went Loco for Snapchat.

  5. thenytimes – I would be remiss if I didn’t include the New York Times on this list. While they are not the most active media account on Snapchat. They do have a presence. Typically, different journalists on assignment will take over the account to let views follow them along on assignment.

  6. washingtonpost  – This was the account that started it all for me. I had planned on staying off Snapchat but when I found out the Washington Post was there I decided I better give it a look. They’ve done a lot of great things with this account from posting stories where they dip back into their archives and show things like the Cherry Blossom Festival through the years to handing the account off to reporters who are out covering stories to give viewers their vantage point on assignment.

When I look at these sources, I see many possibilities in my classroom (through Story):

  • review of class learning (could be daily, weekly, by unit or by concept)
  • showing application of course content to the daily life of an RJ student
  • a challenge for students to me – take a snapchat of daily life at RJ and let’s find the Sacramentality of it
  • students read an assignment and ask questions, muse about what they find interesting/challenging, or summarize the reading

The benefit of this:

  • more engaging and creative than what I currently do
  • gets them using social media for good
  • helps me encounter their world
  • differentiates for students who find this mode easier to make learning visible than the standard written response
  • helps model and express their creativity as well as offers a potent forum for higher level thinking
  • if this is shared with parents, other classes/students/school, the impact of this social interactivity would increase rigor and accountability

There are drawbacks to this (24 hour time limit for viewing), other apps might work better (Vine), and perhaps it would best be suited to a peer review process, but your students might find it invigorating and even show you an unanticipated, exceptional, and far superior idea for using it to achieve your learning objectives. If you decide this is for you, you can start with this guide or take a bold leap and ask your students!

Rigor and Technology in Student Learning

Complexity:AutonomyLast year, I attended several workshops at Marzano Research Labs (alongside Will Cropper, Bill Kehrman, Sarah Sherwood, Dusty Weber, and Craig Rogers). I recall seeing a graphic showing a definition of rigor that I greatly appreciated (see right). You can see the definition we worked with at the workshops was oriented toward seeing rigor as a complex mental process done autonomously by the student. As a unit of study progresses, complexity and autonomy should increase, so the summative assessment then is a complex work completed individually by the student.

Rigor:Relevance FrameworkRecently I came across a blog post (Improving Instruction in a Digital World) by Eric Sheninger, a high school principal from Texas, that replaced this definition of rigor clarifying the x-axis with Bloom’s Taxonomy and the y-axis with application (see left). You’ll notice in this different, yet similar, definition of rigor, the shift from autonomy to interdisciplinary work may offer something more inspiring as teachers. Thinking about the A quadrant, I admit my best teaching tended to achieve application within theology alone. I vividly recall my students during the ACT last year sharing the essay prompt and my consternation as they missed integrating the concepts studied in Sacramentality with their answers. When I asked them why they did not integrate concepts from class in their answer, their personal frustration at their lack of flexibility (which they understood would have greatly increased the quality of their response) left me with an internal question: how do I help them learn, rather than simply recall during my 80 minutes of instruction.

This framework, the Rigor/Relevance Framework, offers this for me. It excites me, yet I realize it can only be achieved as a community here at Regis Jesuit. Mr. Sheninger writes,

“Learning must always be relevant, meaningful, and applicable. Student engagement is a bedrock necessity of attentive and deep learning. Excitement about academic growth, in turn, drives increased student achievement, not only in terms of meeting and exceeding standards, but also in terms of learning that extends into all realms of life. With the solid pedagogical foundation that the Rigor and Relevance Framework provides, digital tools and social media afford students the opportunity to take more ownership of their growth and development.”

Rigor:Relevance - Verbs and TechnologyHe adds this chart in his reflection showing the use of technology to help achieve the rigor this framework encourages (see right). In looking at the Proficiency Scales you may be working on with your peers, look at the verbs and the levels of application (A, B, C and D from the chart above) to help craft 3.0 goals that may provide more rigorous learning. Then, when you want to find ways to have students make their learning visible, you or they might use some of these technology ideas to assess their learning in engaging ways.

I must admit, looking at the chart is very intimidating. I am far from quadrant D. But, I would like to get to B, then C, and ultimately, with the help of others, to D.

For further ideas on using technology to achieve this rigor, he offers this post on How Digital Tools Improve Teaching and Learning. In it, he outlines the key characteristics of useful education technology and shares this graphic:

Tech and Learning

 

Use misconceptions to increase learning.

by MonkeyMyshkin

“But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night,” is the tagline of some of my favorite commercials. In them, an average Joe solves complex physic equations or some other highly specialized task and states the causal force: staying at a Holiday Inn Express. If any student or professional asserted expertise was acquired so passively, I am sure incredulity would be the most positive of my responses.

In a similar fashion, many students assert higher levels of learning than what they achieve. Along with many of you, I can attest that when students self-assess their learning, they claim mastery and then promptly score far below that threshold on assessments. Social sciences have several terms for our universal tendency to do this: the Dunning-Kruger effect, overconfidence effect, or the superiority illusion.

A video I watched several years ago fascinated me for the way a research team began using these effects to increase learning. They manipulated the presentation of information by starting instruction with misconceptions thereby opening the students to correct learning. This video explains:

Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos

While the research and conclusions presented here focus on videos (most often used in flipped/blended/personalized learning), I firmly believe starting lectures with misconceptions would also open up the minds of students. In reflecting on the RJWay alongside Marzano’s Elements, I believe such work in my instruction will help my personal goal this year of examining error in reasoning.