There are some excellent free online resources available to help teachers enhance their lessons and appeal to the tech-savvy audience that makes up many of today’s classes. With so many students using social networking tools like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, it seems like a logical step to start including these types of tools as instructional aids in the classroom. You can discover which of these tools and resources might work for you by using the faceted search on the Gateway to 21st Century Skills. While looking through Joann’s language picks this week, I was particularly intrigued by the Five Minute Twitter Crunch Drill. Instead of simply linking people together socially, creative resources like this are using social networking as a tool for students to use in the classroom for practice, research, and demonstration of important skills.
I was a Twitter newbie at the beginning of this year. Before I started using Twitter, I was skeptical of the usefulness a community that provided random thoughts (in 140 characters or less) from people, most of whom I didn’t even know. Since I joined Twitter, I have begun to see what a powerful tool it can be for educators. For me, Twitter and Facebook have become ways to be a contributing member of a worldwide community of educators. Educators are creating worldwide PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) to support one another and be a part of 24/7 professional development. Go to Twitter and search for #edchat to see an example of the valuable discussions going on every week. The value of social networking for educators is a topic I could write about a lot longer, but I will save that for another post. This week, I want to focus more on the ways social networking can enter the classroom as a tool for students.
The first resource I mentioned was intended for a language classroom. There are a few other creative ways to incorporate social networking tools in a language classroom. It could be really fun to create a serial story, called “twittories” where all the students in the class contribute through Twitter. If you are teaching a foreign language, have the students write their entries in that language. Look at how this class did it. If your school’s filters prevent you from doing that, you could even do this activity without Twitter. Just allow each student 140-character entries each time it’s their turn to add to the story. Compressing their thoughts into 140 characters is an interesting and challenging exercise! The best way to learn a new language is to use it, and students have the perfect opportunity to do that with the worldwide connectivity offered through social networking. Can you set your students up to have conversations with native speakers on Twitter? What about Facebook friends from other countries, a kind of modern pen pal? Maybe your class could Skype with people that speak the language fluently. What fun ways to really use the things they are learning. Look at this powerpoint presentation for some more facts and interesting ideas.
We received some positive feedback about the interactive mapping tools we highlighted earlier. We featured some great ways for students to use interactive maps to become more connected to the world around them. Can we integrate social networking with these kinds of tools to help our students become personally connected with what they are learning? Stay tuned for next week’s post for more discussion of social networking in the classroom. We love hearing from YOU! Have you used social networking in a creative way in your classroom? Do you think you’ll ever try it? Why or why not?
~Peggy's Corner - 6/5/2010~