Week 4 Discussion – Initial Post
During a spring Wikispace project my students worked on called the Far and Away Project I interviewed several students about their internet usage both at home and at school. There were ten students involved in the project, most were 7th graders. One thing that was surprising to me at that time was the ease with which certain students could bypass our district’s proxy server. In fact, students were able to login to their web mail accounts and check their email whenever they wished. This was pretty amazing to me since all forms of web mail including msn, yahoo, and gmail are all blocked in our district. I had always heard they could get past the blocker if they wanted to, but had never seen it done until I worked with kids on the Wiki Project. This made me think that many students have more access at school than many of our teachers since most of our teachers simply give up when the big yellow screen with a stop sign in the middle pops up. Dr. Thornburg’s analogy of digital immigrants and digital natives is very appropriate in my school. If certain teachers at my school can’t figure something out, many, including me, will ask students how something works. I consider asking a student how to do something an effective method of losing my teacherly voice.
Another thing I learned through those informal interviews is the power that social networks possess for students. It still boggles my mind that some students who, to me, seemed to be the most scattered I had, could keep track of over four hundred global friends on their MySpace account. The most innovative teachers have already begun taking advantage of the power social learning has for students with wikis and educational blogs. I think something even more powerful that is currently developing in various educational arenas is the use of MUVE’s in education. Global Kids and Quest Atlantis are both excellent examples of programs that utilize Social Learning in a contextual framework.
In the coming school year, I will provide my students with more opportunities for group activities and projects. One way I will accomplish this goal is by having a classroom wiki. I also plan to begin utilizing Quest Atlantis in my practice. To be a more effective teacher, I need to begin taking advantage of middle school aged children’s natural social nature .
On a personal Note:
We said goodbye to our beloved Sloopy last weekend by taking her ashes on one final camp trip and could not resist taking a look at some other pups at the dog pound…Buster is our new dog’s name