Being able to read and being given the time to read a variety of blogs has probably been most beneficial to my classroom instruction. It's opened up an entirely new perspective when it comes to controversial topics, raw commentary and better yet, I stumbled on communities of like-minded people. Consequently, I've been able to take the information and use it as a springboard for discussion and I continue to draw from different blogs and videos with hopes of adding even more dimensions to my curriculum.
How has social networking made a difference
in your classroom?
For example, we were shown a video by Will Richardson that mentioned a Mississippi school that is piloting a program in which teachers are being coached from the back of the room or in an entirely different location while wearing ear buds. Besides making me even more distressed about the state of education than I already was, the video and article made me ponder our basic freedoms, our rights and the responsibility of maintaining those rights -- not to mention the willingness of teachers, community members, administrators to become life-size bobble heads and actually agree to participate in such madness. So, I put it out there for my students to discuss while making connections to the assigned reading. The conversations were amazing and the epiphanies had by many of my students gave me hope.
I plan on rewriting most of my English 10 units this summer to create a more solution-based approach to learning. I want to create summative assessments that revolve around case studies that stem from social and political issues highlighted in our assigned readings. For example, After reading The Grapes of Wrath, I would love to actually have my students research current jobless rates, distribution of wealth, etc. and research why it's happening while paralleling it to the social/economic status and times that were illustrated in the book.
What plans do you have to continue developing your online personal learning network (PLN)? How do you see an online education community changing education?
While my ideas are still in their infancy, I would also love for them to focus on one key parallel and research a solution for the problem their discovery uncovered. But one requirement would have to be for them to actually go to the bank, or business or whatever and test their theories. Wouldn't it be wonderful for them to be able to feel the power of being an active problem-solver? Again, this is just a thought bubble right now and it needs a lot of work.
An online community is imperative so my students and I can get a global perspective. Once they see their world compared to others', I'm pretty sure they're going to change their perceptions. For example, wouldn't it be interesting to have a European interpretation of the American Dream? Skype could and will make it happen. That is of course if our internet works at school. It's always a crap shoot, but a little perspective goes a long way. We've just got to keep the conversation going.