Sunday, April 26, 2009

Facebook/Taste of Technology

Oooh so many topics but so little time!

Briefly, the Facebook thing is going pretty well so far. We started advertising it with a group of students I've been working with on How the Hangman Lost His Heart book. Tomorrow we are working in groups with students on fun activities and I will have video to post to the site. If you are interested in peeking in- find the "Authors in April" group on Facebook. It is set to public and I believe you can look at it without joining. (I can't tell because I am a member...) Our Authors in April day is Tuesday so I will be working to write more about the entire experience after the visit from the author.

Just want to call your attention to Will Richardson's post on transparency if you have not already read it. I was in attendance the day the administrator asked him the question he discusses on his blog. His post on this topic has received a large number of comments and I am interested in talking about this idea with people. He inspired me to make an appointment with my superintendent- and that experience will have to be another blog post.

All-in-all the Oakland University Taste of Technology conference was OUTSTANDING. I could not believe what a small and intimate forum we had to provide us with the opportunity to chat with Will Richardson! What an unique experience. It was very exciting to me and quite inspirational. Needless to say- I was pretty geeked about the entire conference. I'll need to suggest to the planners to make it a webinar next year- great inquiry Sarah!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Facebook in school

So, I have been thinking again.

I have been mulling over ways to successfully reach students when they are not in school on a platform they already are comfortable navigating. I imagine a space where school learning and connecting with fellow students expands outside of the classroom walls. I know for me personally, I spend a great deal of time outside of my work day delving in my own personal PD sessions with the computer or a book. My goal is to promote that love of learning and connecting with my students. I've tried wikis and blogs with limited success. That is not to say that I am planning to abandon those efforts; I am simply exploring other options. I am always looking to create windows in the metaphorical brick wall. My thoughts led me to Facebook. Why not? I know my students have profiles there and they are on the site often in their spare time. Considering my own daughter's use of Facebook I thought it just might be pretty successful. Another personal observation of my daughter: she is not an overly social in person, but she is extremely social on Facebook. I expect for those students who are shy or hesitant to share their thoughts in the classroom setting this group would enable them to participate safely. So another reason to try. Of course all of the negative antics associated with middle school students having free reign on a social platform did cross my mind. But, how would I ever know how this could work unless I just tried it? How would I know what to change or set up or anticipate the next time? My brain was screaming, Just Do IT! So I did.

I started a group on Facebook geared to sparking discussions around a guest speaker who will be visiting my district. I invited adults working in the district to join first and encouraged the teachers to start promoting this group with their students. Excited to see what I could generate, I casually mentioned it to a group of students in the library. I had my first student join just the other day. When I congratulated her for being the first student to join she declared that she was going to start inviting her friends! So we have a small group started. Not too much discussion going on quite yet. What I am planning to push next is talking it up with the English classes as those teachers are working most intensively to get this visit off the ground. I intend to make students aware of the group prior to spring break as I suspect that may be a good time for us to be connected. All the students will be required to finish their books over break so my goal is to get them talking about it online. This is a work in process.

To date, what I was most surprised about was how many students told me their parents would not allow them to have a profile on Facebook. I suggested if they were interested in seeing what it is like they should encourage their parents to create a profile and join the group. That way the student could participate through their parent and the parent would be able to monitor what was going on in the group.

I will plan to write more about this little project as it unfolds! Stay tuned!