Open House Sessions Focus on Digital

Summer Teacher Institute

Teachers tweet at the Berlin Wall during a History Through H@ndles exercise.

This year’s Newseum Teacher Open House on Oct. 3 puts an extra emphasis on technology in the classroom. Alumni from our 2015 Summer Teacher Institutes (ANEW15) “Primarily Digital: Teaching Media Literacy to Plugged-in Students” will be leading sessions on how they have blended digital tools and social media into their curriculum. They’ll share stories of success and challenges, as well as their favorite digital tools.

Annette Spahr, who will be co-hosting a Twitter in the Classroom session, gives a peek preview of how “never the twain shall meet” doesn’t apply to an assignment she gave her students on Mark Twain and Twitter. Check out her creative lesson plan below.

In addition to the ANEW15 sessions, NewseumED will debut its revamped website and preview part of its newest module, Freedom in the Balance, based on Sept. 11.

Teacher Open House runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, and is free to educators with a valid teacher’s ID. It’s a day full of classes, programs, tours, giveaways and more. Download a full schedule of events and a flier here.

The tech-related sessions are:

  • Twitter in the Classroom:  Lisa Mayo and Spahr share how to take the Twitter leap with students. Find creative ways to connect the social media tool to social studies, literature and more, as well as how to use it as a PLN. Come prepared to share your own best uses for Twitter. (Check out Mayo’s blog on her aha moments at the summer institute.)
  • Teacher to Teacher: Social Media for Ethical Engagement.  Rachel Millstein and her principal, Cindy Dillion, discuss the impact social media has on 21st century learners and educators and its potential to be an excellent communication tool inside and out of the classroom. Explore the intersection of ethics and hashtags and their possible ramifications!
  • Teacher to Teacher: Get Googly.  Ashleigh Gillespie shares how to revolutionize your classroom with Google tools –  Docs, Classroom, Forms and Slides –  for collaboration and student accountability.
  • Teacher to Teacher: Digital Smackdown. Library media specialists Joquetta Johnson and Kristen Rowe do a quick hit of digital tools that enrich the teaching and learning experience. Tools to be covered are LiveBinders, Timetoast, Kahoot and many more! Come prepared to share your favorites.
  • History Through H@ndles. Bring history alive in this blended learning session led by NewseumED staff at the Berlin Wall exhibit. Travel back in time to become a resident of East or West Berlin during the budding of the Cold War. As big events are announced, document what you see happening and your reactions on Twitter. Leave with new tools and inspiration for using social media to teach history.

  #HuckFinn Through H@ndles, by Annette Spahr

To assign summer reading, or not to assign summer reading. This is the dilemma faced by teachers who would welcome the opportunity to have their students begin the year with one book already checked off their reading list. But here’s the stumbling block: If you’re going to ask your students to read, you’re going to have to spend time on …review … ZZZZZ.  Few activities prompt more sleepy stares than a blow by blow of what happened in each chapter.

Annette Spahr Photo

Annette Spahr teaches English at Harrisburg Academy in Lemoyne, Pa.

Summer reading where I teach is non-negotiable, yet I have great freedom to select a novel of my choice. Having spent considerable time prepping to teach The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to avoid zapping the room of all enthusiasm. Working with higher level, 12th grade literature students, eager to share their opinions and enamored with social media, blending classic literature and Twitter came together far more smoothly than I anticipated. When I learned this summer that Mark Twain was captivated by any latest technology, this prompted the Essential Question: “If Twitter existed in 1884, when Mark Twain published “Huck Finn” how might he have used it to promote and publicize his novel?” And with this question, the project  #HuckFinn Through H@ndles emerged.

We established a class-use only account with the username @HbgAcadLit, and privacy settings to give access to only those we selected – such as teachers and classmates – our own Twittosphere! Students created a school Twitter account, with their school email, and usernames with a similar format: @FirstnameLit – for example: @JennyLit.  For our first trial run, each student randomly drew a name of a character in the novel, along with a specific, critical event. They tweeted as their character, noting some key detail about this plot point, while including #HuckFinn in the tweet. Having a long weekend to Tweet, some students had their creative juices flowing. Aunt Polly must have Tweeted three or four times! When we returned, I lit up the smart board with their tweets. Each student read theirs to the class, and described what key moment in the novel they were writing about. I also planned follow up questions for each – to launch the discussion further. The laughter flowed, but so did the serious conversations. A few days later, when discussing Twain’s satirical tone and his frequent targets, Round #2 of #HuckFinn Through Handles emerged: We’re calling our latest Twitter conversation #TwainTarget. Students are busy tweeting some of Twain’s greatest zingers as we pose the question: What makes satire effective? Stay tuned for Round #3!



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