Dr. Christine Johns

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Monthly Archives: January 2014


Students offer perspectives on how social media helps them learn

I am fortunate to meet regularly with a great group of secondary students in the context of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board (SSAB). Through our meetings, students have an opportunity to share their thoughts about their high school and Utica Community Schools in general and how the district is preparing them for future success.

Members of the SSAB represent junior high schools, high schools and specialized programs in our district. Together we discuss a wide range of topics that impact them and their classmates, including course rigor, curricular and co-curricular activities and district procedures and policies. Our conversations vary meeting to meeting, but one subject continues to hold particular interest with the students – that being technology and staying connected.

As digital natives who have never known a time without social media and personal devices, the students are eager for technology to have a bigger role in supporting teaching and learning in our classrooms. Virtual tools are integral to their personal lives and they definitely favor more use in their academic lives.

A recognized national leader in the effective use of classroom technology, Utica Community Schools is steadily expanding digital opportunities for students. But even as we introduce more advanced technology, we are aware that students must also learn to use digital tools safely and appropriately. We must teach our students – our children – how to be good citizens as they interact in the virtual world. A number of articles have already been posted on this initiative in the superintendent’s blog: https://drchristinejohns.wordpress.com/

Technology is a powerful tool when used appropriately. As parents and educators, we must work together to understand our students’ passion for technology and how we can guide them in its best use.

To help advance this understanding, I asked my SSAB members to describe how social media impacts their lives and how it can support their education.

Here are examples of what they had to say:

In school we use Web sites such as Edmodo and Schoology that allow us to have discussions with classmates and our teacher. Our teachers post quizzes and blogs that enhance our learning. They also post important dates and assignments. Technology and social media have had such a huge impact on my life and when you use it in the right way, it can really benefit your learning.”
Samantha Belz
10th Grade
Stevenson High School

Many of my teachers have their own Web sites and blog pages in which they post homework questions, future assignments, and the class agenda. It is especially good for someone like me who likes to be ahead of the curve. Teachers also allow students to post a question online, which is great because it saves time in class for new material and allows for instant help.

I also use social media to ask questions. It helps you to form an online study group in which all participants share some of their knowledge and receive help when needed. The use of social media is also an excellent way to communicate upcoming events to the student body.
Shawn Spezia
11th Grade
Eisenhower High School

I use social media if I don’t understand or have a question about a homework assignment. Social media sites like Edmodo and Schoology allow me to contact my friends who are in that class. I can also contact the teacher directly.
Katelyn Elder
11th Grade
Utica High School

I use the Internet for a lot of things. I mostly use it for research and looking up words, but with social media and the Internet you can keep up on assignments.

Furthermore, half of my teachers use Remind 101 to announce and remind us when we are starting an assignment or when there is a test, quiz or major assignment. This helps me a lot.

Also, with Facebook, you can ask friends that are in your classes if they can help you with a certain question that they might have on an assignment. Social media can be a very positive thing when it comes to education because it can provide more information and understanding towards a certain subject.
Cameron Walker
9th Grade
Henry Ford II High School

Social media has shaped many aspects of our world, including the education system. I use many social media tools to enhance my learning process. One of these tools is Google Docs, which allows multiple people to work on the same project at the same time. Google Doc saves automatically and is very convenient because all members working on a group project have an updated copy at all times. Tools such as this offer new opportunities to stimulate more efficient collaboration between students in the classroom.
Sarah Bussineau
10th Grade
Eisenhower High School