Social Media: What’s the Big Idea?!?

Gardening is great.  While your hands are busy, your mind can wander anywhere it pleases…  So an hour of sitting quietly today in the early morning sunlight clearing moss from the bricks of my patio eventually turned my thoughts to the problem of figuring out the Big Ideas for my class this year.

Now I may be long-in-tooth, but I don’t know much about coming up with “Big Ideas” — I’m sure I had some kind of momentary inservice on it sometime, and then I was probably supposed to follow up by reading some kind of book that I didn’t have.  And then I know I’m supposed to have been coming up with Big Ideas for all of my lessons and having my kids focus all their learning on them.  But it didn’t work, and after all that, I still don’t know much about how to come up with the “Big Ideas” for the year ahead.  But this summer, I’m really trying.

So what is it that I want the kids to investigate?  How do I make it as open-ended as possible?  How do I word it so that I don’t antagonize parents, or my administrators, and how do I avoid the kids’ work being side-tracked or blocked by unnecessary controversy?

  • “What does Social Media offer pre-teens?” the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…                Nope.  Too much chance of things with that becoming too negative…
  • “How is Social Media changing daily life for kids/pre-teens?”
  • “How are kids/pre-teens using social media in their lives today…?”                                  That one’s good, the kids could do all kinds of different things….
  • “How can Social Media improve life for kids today?”
  • “How can Social Media improve school for kids today…?”                                                     I wish!!   (-:  A bit too antagonizing for admin though?
  • “How can Social Media improve LEARNING for kids today?”

And as I turned that particular one around in my head, it dawned on me that that’s what MY whole journey has been about.  That’s what MY big idea and driving force is and has been, for the past 2 years.  As a teacher, THAT’s the big question that kept echoing in my mind during all of my exciting Olympic Adventures into 21st Century social media…

“How can social media be used to improve learning for kids of today?

How can it make learning more exciting, engaging, relevant, and more effective for the kids in my classroom?

And how can social media make a child’s visit through the Canadian Canoe Museum more exciting and engaging and relevant to their life in a 21st Century world?

Where are the other teachers around here — anywhere in the world — who’ve been investigating the same thing, and who can help me to figure this out?

THAT’s what this is about.  This is my own Big Idea!

So with this new insight, with recognition that my Canadian Canoe Museum project has been one of my main driving forces since my Olympic Journey, and in awareness of the turbulent and sometimes controversial nature of most journeys off the beaten path, I am renaming my #TLLP project:

“Paddling through 21st Century Whitewaters: How can Social Media make learning better for our kids?”


Wish me luck.




About Cathy Beach

Recently retired elementary teacher and outdoor educator in rural Ontario, Canada. My Olympic Journeys may be over, but they lead me into some very exciting adventures with teachers and kids and the world of connected learning...
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