Coming from a small school, social networking provides the perfect opportunity to collaborate with other educators around the globe. Last year, our tech integrator exposed us to creating a personal learning network. I took one small step and set up a Twitter account and was amazed at how quickly I found educators to follow. Of course, like everyone else I use Facebook and LinkedIn for personal and professional reasons. After taking this class I feel confident in my web 2.0 skills. Over the summer, I would like to focus on literacy, so I would like to join the group Best Practices for Literacy Instruction on the Classroom 2.0 Ning.
Not only can social networking be a great tool for professional development. It is a valuable teaching tool and provides authentic learning experiences for our students. With this in mind, I decided to take the next step to join a Ning set up by our former tech integrator called Around The World With 80 Schools. The Ning is made up of teachers wanting to connect and collaborate with other classes around the world. In the past, our tech integrator had coordinated Skypeing with other classes. This was my first attempt at my own to reach out beyond the walls of our school. Within the Ning, I joined a group called 2nd Grade Classes. Within a week, I had set up a time for my class to Skype with a class in Texas.
Following suggestions by Silvia Tolisano in her blog post ““Skype Jobs” for Students”on the Langwitches blog, I assigned each child a job like photographer, videographer, introductions, etc… In addition, each child prepared a questions they would like to ask the second graders from Texas. We also practiced speaking clearly and looking into the camera. Before our call, we also watched a video of a Skype call between two classes that was posted on one of the teachers I follow on Twitter.
Our connection with Texas was a hit! Not only did they learn about how our classes and our states are alike and different, they practiced their writing skills, fluency, and presentation skills. It was a valuable lesson for my students!