Where does one start a new project? At the beginning, of course! But this project is something that has been percolating in my brain for over a year, so perhaps this isn’t the beginning at all? Whatever point I am at, in two months there will be a product from much time thinking, reflecting and making tangible what has been developing in my classroom.
For the past two years I have been using twitter as a tool to help connect my students with other kindergarten and grade 1 classes around the world. It has been an evolving collaboration based on the Kindergarten Around the World project developed by Amy Murray from Calgary, Alberta. As part of the #kinderchat Play Projects, Amy matched up classes from different parts of the world so that they could learn about each other, our respective geography, cultures and traditions.
My intent for my EDCI 338 project is to create a “how to” e-book for educators of young children to help them teach their little ones how to be safe online while building relationships with friends all over the globe. Twitter is only one tool we could use for this project, but it happens to be the one that works best for me. I have found twitter to be easy to use, and easy to teach to young children. This media has allowed my class to connect with other students and learn about the real world in a way that cannot be achieved through books or any other source.
Another important reason I think that social media literacy is important to teach our children is that our students are exposed to computers, hand held tech devices and social media at a very young age, most before they even come to kindergarten. I believe that it is our responsibility as educators to guide our students and teach them appropriate use of these technologies. My belief stems from seeing what teenagers are doing online without proper teaching. The social media technologies are so new, most teachers don’t know how to use them. I believe that if we embed social media teaching into our curriculum, we will see fewer incidents of “user remorse” for things posted publicly rather than kept private. There needs to be a bridge from a generation that did not grow up being taught how to use social media safely to a generation that is literate and safe in the social media environments that are ever-emerging.
I believe fully in a play-based Early Childhood education program. I know that children need to be out in nature as much as possible, and need to explore and play with their surroundings. My hope is that through this learning project I can help other teachers lead their students through a meaningful, play-based exploration of the use of twitter.
As my project progresses, I will be fleshing out how best to present this e-book so that it will be an accessible document to be used by others. This by no means indicates that twitter and tech is the “be-all and end-all” for tools used in my classroom. I treat technology similarly to a pencil or box of crayons…one tool that can help my students learn. Twitter just happens to be a tool that can connect my class with other students just like mine throughout the globe.