District Administration June 2017 - 24

CurriculumUpdate

Selfies teach students to write and reflect
By Emily Rogan

In a classroom in New Hampshire,
second-graders pull out iPads to film
themselves discussing the characters of a
book they are reading.
Such video selfies increase students'
understanding of the story's characters
and how those characters resolve problems, says Amy Riley, who teaches at
Stratham Memorial School in School
Administrative Unit 16 in Exeter.
"The selfie helps them add more
detail about the reading passage and
helps them reflect that in their writing,"
Riley says. "They enrich their writing as
they talk about it."
The selfie center
Selfies, in both video and photo form,
are making their way into K12 classrooms, says Cynthia Merrill, a former
classroom teacher who now consults
districts that are creating their own
"selfie centers." The centers give teachers
an activity to encourage reflection and
understanding, and create social opportunities for learning. Comprehension
deepens when students can view themselves and then share their ideas with
classmates, Merrill says.
In Riley's class, for example, students
learn to write with more detail about
characters such as Harry in the Horrible
Harry book series by Suzy Kline.
"When students go back to watch
their selfies and then write about their
reading, their thinking is already captured in their selfies, which allows them

"Students enrich their
writing as they talk about
what they would write."
-Amy Riley, teacher, Stratham
Memorial School, New Hampshire

24 June 2017

SHORT MOVIES IN A BOX-Like
Redbox kiosks that deliver movies
for a fee, the Readbox at Stratham
Memorial School in Exeter has selfie
videos of each student in Amy Riley's
class describing books they've read.

to recall more of their ideas and add
even more detail to their writing projects," Riley adds.
Students upload their videos and
photos to an app called See Saw, where
they can be viewed by classmates, teachers and parents.
On the other side of the country, at
Konocti Education Center in Konocti
USD in northern California, high
school English teacher Robin FogelShrive also had her students take selfies
for writing lessons. The photos were a
springboard for students to dive into the
lesson that included reading two news
stories about the selfie phenomenon and
writing responses to prompts about the
popularity of selfies, why they're appealing and what they say about people.
"We're asking them to read difficult
text and write about it. I thought taking selfies was a great way to bridge the
discussion of reading and writing," says
Fogel-Shrive, now a teacher at another
high school at Konocti USD. "Selfies
are part of their social world. Everyone
would have something to say about it."
The selfies aren't narcissistic, as some

might think, but a valid form of selfexpression that lets students choose how
they want the world to see them, FogelShrive says.
Clive Thompson, a technology journalist and author of the book, Smarter
Than You Think: How Technology is
Changing Our Minds for the Better, says
that Fogel-Shrive's selfies powerfully
integrate aspects of modern life with
traditional writing. It combines "visual
culture with textual culture," he says.
Blending literacies
The idea of using nonfiction newspaper
articles to teach students about the selfie
phenomenon is brilliant, says William Kist, a professor in the School of
Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
studies at Kent State University. "We
have decades of research," he adds, "that
shows reading and writing scores go up
when kids have meaningful, authentic
things to read and write about."
Managing editor Angela Pascopella
contributed to this story. Emily Rogan is a
freelance writer in New York.
District Administration



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District Administration June 2017 - Cover1
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