Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Speech Camp 2.0: The Power of Social Media

This week, I'm in full fledged speech team mode, running around a high school with a team that has grown so much since I started five years ago.  At the start of every August for the past five years, I have had the joy of hosting Speech Camp - a week long camp with the goal of setting the tone for a very long, yet rewarding Speech Team season. With a crew of incredible individuals, I've worked with 20-ish to now 45 kids, taught them about speech team events, developed team/leadership skills, and challenged them to find their voices through a variety of highly interactive activities.  Every year I seek ways to take the camp to the next level, challenge students further, and facilitate experiences that will remain lasting memories in the minds of the kids I encounter.  This year, my goals have remained the same, yet my inspiration to captivate 21st century students ignited ideas that have taken this camp even further than the cinder-block walls of the high school.

What I am coming to understand about technology is really the capabilities it has to connect us all.  Students love their smart phones, and they love being able to "share" their experiences.  So far, this week students have encountered many team building activities and challenges, focused their attention on listening and improvisation, and today they will encounter their first Genius Hour.  The question I've been asking myself through all this is: how do we keep the conversation and momentum going throughout the week in fun, yet meaningful ways? How do we create excitement to learn?

The natural platform to allow students to extend and "share" their experiences is Social Media.  They're already using it to share and interact, but if they are prompted and given a purpose to use it, Social Media can become more than just an outlet for "Truth Is" posts and "selfies".

On Monday, during my welcome to Speech Camp pep talk, we talked about making "good choices", digital citizenship, and the permanence of the internet. We talked about the fact that I had all intentions of sharing what they posted on the back-channel with their parents and with other teachers.  They have shared goals, wrote six-word memoirs, cheered on their teams, added pictures, and posted about the fun they were having via the #CGSpeech.  The conversation has been active on the Facebook, Twitter, and Today's Meet channels.  They're getting involved and making it count.

Unprompted, students have even used their Google Drives to craft their scripts for their student-written performance scenes and they've used the CG Speech Facebook to post reminders to use their Google Accounts to collaborate even further.  They are seeing the advantages of web tools/social media and the interconnected lives they are leading, and they are using its power for good!

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