Lessons from #Ferguson

I’ve been watching the posts etc. coming out of Ferguson, MO as I’m sure all of you have.  Yesterday my professional reading had two links to information about #Ferguson: Larry Ferlazzo’s curated posts and a Post on the Center for Teaching Quality blog.

It struck me – as I looked at one particular tweet – that tech coaches have a role to play in this.  We need to give teachers support as they strive to help students make sense of this incident.  In my haste to share my “aha” moment, I made a mistake and retweeted a photo:




I knew Karen would know what I meant.  What I didn’t count on was getting a follower – less than 30 seconds later – who must have been following the hashtag. Obviously a social activist of a sort.  Rather than continue to add “social activism” to my online persona, I’ve decided to share my “aha” in way that is more in keeping with who I am…

I think that we as tech coaches have a role to play as we gear up for getting school underway.  I know I have a number of teachers who are new to the school division this year and several of them are also new to teaching. They are more likely to be thinking in classroom survival mode than wondering how to help the students with their responses to the situation in Ferguson. Here are three lessons that we can help teachers facilitate using the social media trail left by this incident.  I am sure there are more.

  • Point of view: Both English and Social Studies ask students to look at things from various points of view.  Certainly being able to see things from multiple perspectives also helps students learn cross-cultural skills. Middle school students might be asked to look at the looting on Tuesday August 12th from various perspectives, perhaps using this encouraging story. Understanding the perspectives of the looters, store owners, any one of those who helped clean up the next day, and even police officers receiving the reports necessary to file insurance claims may help students understand the impact of these types of actions. Perhaps, we can even help them evaluate their own emotional response to similar incidents as well.
  • Digital Citizenship: We know that history is being recorded and commented as it happens which is a phenomenon that has emerged within the last 10 years or so. Our young folks may want express their opinions and to be heard via social media.  They probably won’t think of their digital footprint as they do. We as coaches can help teachers explain positive ways that students can express themselves. A well thought out response – a photo collage, a video montage, a podcast, or even a school news show – will give the student a chance to explore their emotional response and express themselves in a way that might increase a prospective employers respect for them as an individual. Not to mention the social media streams are ripe for all kinds of Digital Citizenship lessons.
  • Media Literacy: The opportunity to help students analyze and evaluate the tweets, pictures, news articles and video uploads is huge.  The Center for Media Literacy has a number of resources that will help.  While I know Common Core weaves this into Reading and English, here in Virginia we have a specific SOL strand that focuses on just this idea.  I can think of a number of questions that students should consider when looking at the picture referenced in the tweet above. That’s actually where I was going when I retweeted it…

So there are my first few ideas.  How do you think we as Tech Coaches should respond?

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