My Aha Moments at ANEW15 Teacher Institute


Lisa Mayo at the Newseum.

This guest post is written by Lisa Mayo, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania and a participant in the 2015 Newseum Summer Teacher Institute,“Primarily Digital: Teaching Media Literacy to Plugged-in Students,” sponsored by Annenberg Learner. Look for the #ANEW15 hashtag on Twitter.

I cannot begin to count all the aha moments I felt as a participant in the #ANEW15 advanced institute this summer. As I review the Google Slide presentations multiple times, I find myself revisiting those moments. There will be differences in my classroom this year because of my experience at the Newseum with so many brilliant teachers and librarians from all over the country.

Taking Classroom Polls

The first thing I’m adding to my classroom is, oddly enough, not technological. Well, it can be, but I’m going old school for this. I was thrilled with all the uses of Poll Everywhere in the Institute, and I will incorporate it in my classes; but the polling system I’m going to employ is from the Vietnam Exhibit we visited. There was a polling question and responses were registered by placing a peg in a grid. It was instantaneously visual to see the results.

Well, when collaborating with colleagues, we figured out a quick, inexpensive way to do this. So, this year my students will find 5 ribbons for different responses and a basket of clip-on clothespins on my bulletin board. I’m thinking each day there will be a quick question and each ribbon will represent an answer. Each student will post a clothespin on their selected ribbon/answer. It will be fast and it will be visual.

I’m considering the questions to be anything from silly/pop-culture to questions that reflect what we are studying. I can even see it as a ticket out the door. On deeper thinking topics, I imagine using it as a conversation starter and then allowing students to move their clothespins if they change their mind. On days where it is most enlightening, I will post pictures on our class Twitter account and compare classses. This is simple and I think my sophomores and juniors will play along.

Evaluating Sources With Consumer Questions 

Another aha moment that stands out is the Consumer Questions to evaluate the value of a source. Applying the common journalist questions (how, what, when, why, where, and who) to sources, especially on the internet, is going to be one my opening lessons when starting my research paper process with my juniors. Since the Institute has ended, I have found myself applying the questions as I’m reading and preparing for my classes.

Integrating Social Media

I am already a proponent of Twitter usage in the high school classroom, but now I can see uses for Instagram and Pinterest. I use Twitter on a daily basis to keep students up to date and to have them post assignments. I see Instagram as a great source for mentor text/writing prompts in my classroom and creative writing club. Pinterest is a constant resource for teachers, but I would like to find a way to incorporate it with students. I feel very strongly that I want students to see the value of social media as a tool for communication and change.

Collaborating With Google Classroom

As last school year was ending, I began exploring Google Classroom as a test run with one of my sections. I found it helpful for organizing assignments and sharing with students. After #ANEW15’s guest speakers (such as Jen Roberts from Reading & Writing in the Disciplines) and that valuable collaboration time, I am onboard and will be using it in all my classes this fall.

I hardly think there is any part of my teaching experience that will not be impacted by my three glorious days at the Newseum this summer. The presenters and organizers kept things moving and filled our days with information that will take weeks to process. To have been a part of this institute is not only professionally life altering, but also personally. I connected with people that I will stay in touch with – especially as our school years kick off. I look forward to seeing what we are all doing on Twitter and our Google Community.

Did you miss out on the institutes? You can still find lots of lesson plans, handouts and videos from the institutes in Google Community. You can join one or both communities by clicking on the hyperlink: Novice or Advanced.

In addition, you can find #ANEW15 tweets from all three days of the advanced institute in Storify and archived videos of the live-streaming on YouTube.

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