NetVibes Psychology Resource Page

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Utilizing RSS Feeds & Social Media in High School

As a teacher of high school students, one thing that disappoints me is that the students do not seem to be aware of many important topics in society, let alone the topics we are covering in class. It seems hard to be so out of touch when considering most of my students are always on social media. However, they are not interested in reading a current tweet from CNN or other credible news sources. Most of my students use social media to send each other funny videos or watch funny videos others created on Youtube. Finding a way to allow students to continue to use social media but in a constructive way could be very beneficial for a high school classroom.  Having students subscribe to RSS Feeds can get this process started.

In most classes, topics are broken down into units. For each unit, students can search for blogs related to the topic and use an RSS aggregator to subscribe to interesting blogs or sites.  By doing this for each unit, students will be exposed to current topics in the field of study. This can be expanded even further by asking students to share posts that they find interesting on a social media site with some opinion on the post. This is just another way to incorporate technology into the classroom as well as elaborating on current issues in the field of study.

PA State Budget Impasse

The Keystone State Education Coalition maintains a blog that discusses current topics related to the PA state budget impasse. With no state budget, schools have not received the additional funding that they rely on to operate. Schools are beginning to make plans for potential closure. Pensions and reimbursement for students that attend charter schools are mentioned as big contributors to the financial crisis in many districts.

As a teacher in Pennsylvania, I am concerned with how the budget impasse will impact my future in education and specifically, how the public views teachers. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many people talking negatively about teachers in the last few years. Every time that a district raises taxes, constituents are asked to question the importance of education and the role of teachers. Several districts throughout the Lehigh Valley, where I work, have recently negotiated new contracts for their teachers. It was upsetting to read some of the reaction to the negotiations from taxpaying members of those districts. I fear that the public does not understand the role and responsibilities of a teacher and with schools considering taking loans to keep their doors open until the budget impasse is resolved, I fear a backlash against teachers.

The question is… Does the public understand the roles and responsibilities of teachers or will their be a backlash if school districts begin to take loans and/or raise taxes significantly to make up for the lack of state funding?

Using Blogs/Discussions In Class

I have been using blogs in my classroom for over 5 years now. In fact, I have completed adapted my coursework so that all homework in my class is in the form of student blog posts. I am absolutely a moderator. I believe that if a student blog is going to serve the purpose of enhancing content knowledge for the topic covered in class, there must be some moderating.

When I first started requiring students to blog, I had very generic instructions.  My instructions have grown to be very specific based on my early experiences. In previous years, I had my students compile all of their posts on a Google Site as their own blog.  Since I teach an elective and we no longer require a 4th year of social studies, I eliminated that requirement to make my class a little easier. I would love to do it but we are in a competition for students so it was a requirement I had to do away with. Now, my students make weekly posts on our discussion board in Schoology and then reply to their peers. Since I teach Psychology, the student blogs revolve around their own behavior. Each blog is evaluated based on my Discussion Forum Rubric.
Since my school district is currently using Schoology and you have to be a member of our school to see the content, I’ve taken several screen shots of my blog area to show what it looks like.

Preparing Our Students for Life After School

The way the world conducts business has changed and continues to change so it makes sense that the way we prepare our students for life after school should change. 6 Ways Work Will Change by Jared Lindzon, outlines several potential changes in the business and management world for 2016. For example, businesses are realizing that finding talent for their company is more efficient in the virtual world than it is in the brick-and-mortar world.  Also, businesses continue to adopt a more collaborative approach to the workforce structure with leaders requiring skills in inspiration and collaboration rather than simply being loyal or committed.

If the goal of school is to prepare students for life after school, then schools and teachers need to embrace these changes.  Teachers need to provide the students with the skills necessary to succeed outside of school. The very nature of how the world operates is constantly evolving and thus the way that we teach needs to as well.