a white paper in a vintage typewriter
Apps, Critical Thinking, Teaching Tools, Videos

Update on TikTok Thoughts

I want to thank those of you who filled out the form and/or commented on my post asking for your thoughts on TikTok. Though it definitely was not a very scientific survey, it did give me some idea on how some of you feel about this app, and I can tell that there is at least some mild interest — as well as some concern.

I want to address the concerns first. We know that TikTok has been used with ill-intentions by some. Whether it’s to share inappropriate things or to urge students to perpetrate harmful pranks, I think that all of you reading this right now would agree that those are unacceptable. But I also think we know that every social media platform out there as been abused for nefarious purposes. At this point, my current curiosity is not about impressionable young minds using TikTok, just about those of us who are adults using it as another way to share teaching ideas.

Another valid concern is that TikTok is “spying” on its users. Quite frankly, just about anything on the internet and our smart phones is mining information about us, and we only have some measure of control over how much privacy we have. Here is a good, recent article from Business Insider that seems like a well-balanced approach to understanding TikTok’s relative risk. It also gives tips for minimizing the risk using the app’s privacy settings. There are definitely no guarantees, but I think our first line of defense is to never overshare, regardless of the platform we are using.

unrecognizable hacker with smartphone typing on laptop at desk
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

We often discussed the ethics of technology in my GT class, and the conclusion we always came to is that technology is just like knowledge in general because the sum benefits depend greatly on the users. I am personally choosing to use TikTok to be inspired by other educators, so I will take precautions but not boycott it because of some people who have maliciously exploited it.

There were a few of you who expressed an interest in TikTok, but you weren’t sure how to get started. I did a hunt for the best guide to getting started, and I like this one because, unlike many other articles, it does not assume you are just trying to find out how to post content on TikTok. It’s great for people like me who just want to “lurk” and get a feel for the app by watching other videos. I’d advise this article to get your account set up and start watching videos, and then the Business Insider article I linked above to adjust your privacy settings.

I asked for some recommendations of accounts on TikTok to follow for education-related videos, and here were some of the suggestions: mschanggifted, tiktokteachertips, and josiebensko. In addition to those I’m also following: strategicclassroom, randazzled, readitwriteitlearnit, and mr.kylecohen. And I’m finding more every day, so you can follow me at engagetheirminds on TikTok if you’d like to start seeing videos that I share. (I’m still debating if I will create my own content, so the ones I share from now will be from other people.)

Ok, I think I’ve figured out how to embed TikTok videos on this site, so I’m going to try this one from mr.kylecohen about the game, “Pancake or Waffle.” I’d love to hear from you if you try this with your students!

@mr.kylecohen Pancake or waffle? #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell
Teaching Tools, Videos

TikTok Thoughts?

As some of you may know from my weekly-ish newsletter, I’ve begun to understand why TikTok fascinates so many people. I’ve got quite a few TikTok videos bookmarked that show teachers sharing fabulous ideas for engaging lessons, organization ideas, and tech tool “hacks.” I honestly thought TikTok was mostly people showing off goofy dance routines, and didn’t think I could learn much from it. But I was wrong.

For today’s post, I wanted to get a better understanding of the people who read this blog so I can figure out if there is any desire on your end for me to share this knowledge or even begin to create my own. Here’s an informal poll that will give me a snapshot of your feelings about TikTok, and I would really appreciate it if you take a minute to fill it out. No personal information will be gathered.

earth blue banner sign
3-12, Science, Videos

Box and Escalade

I know that it’s a bit too late for the actual Earth Day observance on April 22, 2022, but I just came across these short animations that are perfect for showing students, and thinking about the consequences of our actions on the world around us. They are both by a studio in Brazil, Birdo Studio.

Box is a little over a minute long, while Escalade is about 90 seconds. (I’m linking to the article about Escalade on the Kuriositas blog, as that is where I originally found it.) There is no dialogue in either video, so you don’t need to worry about translating.

Escalade reminds me of a simplistic version of The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss, which I used to use with my 5th graders when we discussed systems thinking and escalation behavior. There are lots of applications where you could find use for the video, such as how consumerism and our quest to appear “bigger and better” to those around us is making our world less stable.

Box could be used for basically the same theme, but it has many more details and clever animation that may make you want to watch it more than once.

Caixa from Birdo Studio on Vimeo.

I’ll be adding this post to my Earth Day Wakelet, though of course we shouldn’t be thinking about the potential effects of our greed on the planet just one day a year. I’ll also add this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board, where you can find over 200 other videos that might be useful in class.

Creative Thinking, K-12, Videos

Tinkerhunts

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is the perfect entry level program. It’s free, web-based, and contains lots of tutorials. As a teacher, you can create classes and assign projects that you can oversee through a dashboard. I’ve used it with students from 2nd grade through 12th, so it’s quite a versatile tool.

I had no experience with 3d design when our school got its first 3d printer, so I have great empathy for anyone starting from the beginning. Tinkercad is very user-friendly, but it requires some adjustment if your brain has had as little spatial reasoning practice as mine did when I first began. That’s why I think these Tinkerhunts from HL Modtech (Mike Harmon, @HLTinkercad) are pretty genius. In the first one, he gives kudos to his student, Kingston, who first gave him the idea for these three-dimensional virtual scavenger hunts. Each video (21 as of today’s blog post) introduces the Tinkerhunt for that week, and includes a link to the project in the video description. Students can click on the link (or you can post it as an assignment) and they can then search for the objects within that week’s design. Mike has his students post the locations of the 5 hidden items in the comments, but you can come up with an alternate method that works for you.

This idea is good because it can help students to get familiar with the Tinkercad tools, while also seeing a variety of ways that they can be used. It will give them practice while hopefully inspiring them to create their own designs. Mike also includes some tutorials in the video descriptions, like this one for “Unicorn Dude.”

While Tinkercad can be a means to an end for 3d printing, it doesn’t have to always be used that way, as Mike’s Tinkerhunts demonstrate. It’s excellent for creativity, reinforcing Design Thinking, and practicing spatial reasoning. For more ideas on ways Tinkercad can be used, check out this post that I did last August.

3-12, Anti-Racism, Videos

Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Jellybeans

It turns out that jellybeans work really well when you want to explain things. One of the videos that I’ve had on my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students for years has been, “The Time You Have (in Jellybeans).” Now I will be adding, “Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Jellybeans” to the collection. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really examined those three words in order to consider how they are distinct from each other, but Eliana Pipes does an excellent job doing so in less than 3 minutes.

The narrator does speak a bit quickly, so you may want to show the video more than once, asking students to focus on different parts each time. I’m going to not only add this to my Pinterest Board, but also to my Anti-Racism Wakelet. In addition to the video, you may also want to check out the Western Justice Center School Tools website which is linked in the video description. It looks like the lesson on Culture and Identity could be a good one to use along with the video (it also includes other videos in the lesson plan).

polaroid camera
3-12, Videos

Last Shot

I was preparing for a PD on Visible Thinking Routines, and came across the short animation, “Last Shot” on Alice Vigors’ website, where she cited it as an example that she used to help educators understand the Main-Side-Hidden Routine. “Last Shot” by Aemilia Widodo is another one of the incredible animations produced by students at Ringling College of Art and Design. You can certainly use it with the Main-Side-Hidden Routine, but it’s also a great short film to use to discuss multiple perspectives, empathy, conservation, or even the even deeper concept of how we tend to throw things aside that don’t fit our expectations instead of finding value in them.

Screenshot from “Last Shot” by Aemilia Widodo

There are so many ways that this little gem can be used in the classroom, so I am going to add it my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board. A couple of others that follow along those themes are “Mouse for Sale” and “The Present” (also linked on my board).