The second prompt of the 30-day Blogging Challenge for Teachers is about technology. I am to identify one piece of technology I hope to integrate into my classroom this year. I have spent much of the past year integrating technology into my classroom while working on my sixth year degree.
There are many new tools I have experimented with, and I look forward to trying more. Some of the most recent and most promising ones include Pear Deck, PowToon, GoAnimate, Animoto, and others. This prompt, however, limits me to one choice.
Two weeks ago, I attended EdcampCT, an unconference for educators in Simsbury, Connecticut. Among the many great presentations that day was one given by Greg McVerry, an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University. He introduced us to one of Mozilla’s tools, X-Ray Goggles. This tool reveals the inner workings of webpages. After turning on the goggles, you can click anywhere on a website and see the code that created that page. Then, you can “hack” the page by changing the code. Do you want your picture on the front page of the New York Times website? You can do that in seconds with X-Ray Goggles. You can rewrite pages, save them, print them and share them. Of course, the changes you make can only be seen by you – you are not really hacking the website – but it feels like you are. (Greg had to reassure us that what we were doing was legal because it seemed so wrong, but was so much fun.)
So, how can these be used in the classroom? Clearly, if a bunch of teachers can get excited about remixing a web page, then students will too. Still, what skills can be taught by doing this? Greg has used it to teach argumentative writing, bias and coding. Students can go to a website of interest and rewrite the author’s biography to make them sound like more of an expert. They can look at site, for example, that promotes vegetarianism, and add articles, headlines and photos that encourage people to eat meat – just for fun. Yet, despite the fun, students will learn ways to present a claim, use persuasive language and more. Along the way, they will become curious about coding and begin acquiring this new language.
I am excited to give this a try in my classroom and cannot wait to see the look on my students’ faces the first time they “hack” into a website.
Public Domain image from Pixabay.com