Saturday, June 22, 2019

Creative Communicator: Unpacking ISTE Standard for Students #6

Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. (ISTE Standard for Students)

So this may seem like a hard standard to pull off in a non-techie classroom but bear with me. This one is important! Some of the other standards are much more technical and forward thinking but the basic skill of communication is one that so many people face with emotional struggle. Adults often choose the wrong platform or format to share our grievances or we don't take advantage of the potential audiences we have for the worthy things we want to share. Or worse yet, we don't have the verbalization skills to share the great work that is being done. In this case, I'm talking about adults but it definitely transfers over to our students seven-fold!

I know we have already discussed digital citizenship in a prior blog post in this series but I believe communication is one of the most critical parts of being a good steward in the world of technology. I also believe that in today's society, we are losing our ability to have face to face conversations that are hard. (I'm preaching to myself here.) I hate conflict and would much rather broach a hard subject via email and then follow up face to face. Technology can make us lazy communicators and sadly it can also give us courage that we shouldn't always take advantage of.  

My husband makes fun of my girls and me because we will read a text and say, "Oh, she's mad!" He will then say, "How do you know? Did she tell you she was mad?" and my answer might be "Because she wrote in ALL CAPS" or "I can just tell." or "She used the angry face emoji." It drives him crazy. Communicating through technology often loses the nuances that face to face communication brings. That being said, to say we should strive to equip our students to be creative communicators is a vital skill for their future. There is not a single job I can think of in today's mainstream society that doesn't require the ability to communicate with others. So cheer up non-techie friends, even though you might not have the technology to support this, you will be aiding your students' ability to function in a face to face world even better if you make this standard a priority. 

  • So what does a low tech or unplugged version of "creative communicator" look like? This year, one of our Bible teachers challenged his students to create memes after they finished the unit of the life of St. Paul. He told them to think of it like creating an Instagram post, but since social media is closed to students at our school, they created their posts using a slide deck. Their captions were full of written nuances that they gleaned from their studying. How brilliant was this lesson? He took a platform that students use every day and assessed their learning based on a current fad in society- memes. I love this idea! Did it have to be done on a slide deck? No. They could have done it with markers and papers just as easily. Or what if they had taken an actual photo and put the words right on top of it. Guys, that would be no different than app-smashing on an iPad (combining one or more platforms to create an original work).
  • Remember oral reports? Hands sweaty, waiting for your name to be called so you can do your at least 3-minute speech on some topic. Sometimes you have a posterboard sitting next to you as a visual when you talk, sometimes you don't. Next time this opportunity arises in your classroom, stretch your students a bit. Tell them they have 3 minutes to be creative communicators instead of 3 minutes to give a book report. See what happens! Encourage them to build models, have visuals, and think about their intended audience. Open the door to increased connectivity and creativity. Give them a bigger audience than just you and their classmates. Ask in other classes, parents, or any visitor that would make the moment more special. Spend time beforehand teaching them skills of voice control, inflection, eye contact, and body language. You might not be teaching them digital skills but you sure will be teaching them the importance of being a creative communicator. Talk to them about what subject matters might benefit most from certain types of visuals. One day when they have the opportunity to use technology to enhance their already amazing communication skills, think about what they might do! Last week I had the honor of attending the Chattanooga Fab Institute and the keynote speaker for the first day was Shinjini Das, CEO and founder of Das Media Group (see her story here). Her charisma and ability to engage with the crowd is unique for a 27-year-old engineer. She has the face to face communication skills that don't necessarily fit with the stereotypical STEM field. She's a unicorn in her industry and we need to develop more unicorns in the STEM field. There is value in growing students that can not only DO but also SAY!
  • Own it! Yeah, you the teacher. Your students may not have access to social media but you do. Find out your school district's stance on sharing student information/faces online and make sure you follow those guidelines. Then start using social media to show students when and how it can be a good platform for communication. Create a class blog and share the things happening in your classroom. Contact the author of a book with questions your students have curated while they read the author's book and send them to the author. Have your students create "how to" videos to relate to your curriculum and add to them yourself. Create a website using Google Sites templates and add poetry, photos, or well-written work. Seem like too much work? You don't have to retype everything they have turned in, take a photo and upload it! It is true, it does become a bit of extra work for you as a whole but you are modeling for your students how to be a creative communicator and adding value to the hard work they do in your classroom by showcasing to a broader audience. You are also showing your students how to add value to the digital world they live in. So much of digital citizenship focuses on a list of dangers and safeguards to be aware of but as a citizen, we also want to bring value to that world. Sharing learning and creating pathways for others to learn from our students does just that. 
  • Be a trailblazer. Show students the value of communicating with new tools. Adopt the concept of using voice speakers in the classroom or for communicating with students and families. Create communication means meeting needs in effective ways. Why not choose the fastest growing platform since the iPhone to show students what it means to stay on the edge of learning? 
More ideas for no tech, low tech, and high tech teaching of this standard:

Check out the previous blog posts from the "Unpacking ISTE Standards for Students Techknowledge Gee" here:

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