Tag Archives: learning community

A teacher’s evaluation of ning

“The real problem is not adding technology to the current organization of the classroom, but changing the culture of teaching and learning”.
Alan November in “Curriculum21” by Heidi Hayes Jacobs (found on Flickr in Great quotes about learning and change)

I want to share with you a teacher’s evaluation of a ning as learning and teaching platform for a Year 12 English class. Although Catherine has only been using the ning for a couple of weeks, she has used the features of ning to their full capacity, enhanced student learning, and created a real  learning community. It’s a shame that the ning is private – otherwise I’d show you what it looks like and how it’s working. Instead, read Catherine’s excellent summary and description.

A couple of weeks ago I began a ning with my Year 12 English class. After their initial disappointment that this ‘wasn’t facebook’ and once they worked out how to post a blog and replies to discussions, the class began to embrace their ning, and I have been thrilled with the results!
Our ning contains the following:
1. Photos of our class. Once a week, I bring a camera into the class and the boys take turns with being the ‘class photographer’. They capture moments from the class and ensure that everyone in the class has a photo. We have also added photos from college activities such as the Athletics Carnival where all the boys dressed up. These photos have been placed in albums in the ning and have been great in inspiring a sense of class spirit and unity.
2. Videos related to the text: I have been able to upload a number of videos related to the text we are currently studying – ‘Maestro’ – at the moment there are videos of Cyclone Tracy, Wagner, Peter and the Wolf, and Vienna.
3. Notes: I am able to write notes that highlight upcoming events / work that is due etc. I have arranged the format so that this is the first thing the boys see when they log on.
4. Groups: I have made groups for each of the texts we are studying, so all of our comments, quotes and resources can be located in easy to find areas.
5. Discussion Forums: Each group has discussion forums. At the moment our discussions are taking place in the Maestro group. As a class we have decided to pool all the quotes we find into these areas so that when writing a text response, everyone knows where to find the resources.
6. Chat facility: this enables everyone in the class to be online at the same time in the evenings and ask questions that everyone can contribute to, if they wish.

At the moment my class is preparing for their first text response, and I have found the chat facility to be extremely useful. A number of boys over the long weekend asked for help with their introductions and were able to place their work on chat and receive feedback from other students as well as myself. It was wonderful to see students help each other, as well as to see the particular student edit and re-edit their work. We have missed a number of classes in the past week due to public holidays and college activities, so it was wonderful to be able to assist students in this way in the lead-up to their assessment. It has also been good to see students ask each other for help with specific quotes and to see other students provide answers.

The ning has given students a central place to go to, when finding their resources for English, and has also allowed questions to be asked and answered very quickly. One of the boys told me this afternoon how much he loves being able to use the ning and how helpful it has been for him. I have also enjoyed seeing boys who never contribute in class, feel confident using this technology to voice their opinions. One boy in particular has become a ‘guru’ when it comes to knowing specific quotes in the novel, which has been wonderful for his self-esteem. However, without a doubt, the best part of the ning is the fact that students are discussing and analyzing the text outside of school hours – of their own volition! What more can an English teacher ask for?!

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Filed under 21st century learning, Web 2.0

A few minutes on Twitter yields hours of exploration

It does. I just spent about 5 minutes on Twitter and pulled out what caught my eye for further investigation.

Google Wave – feature by feature by Jane Hart (tweeted by @TBGooglewave)

Pythagorean Theorem on animoto made by student  (sorry, forgot to note who tweeted this)

Article about Beth Kanter posting links to Haitian support I follow Beth on Facebook and am amazed by her efforts to rally people into supporting the Haiti relief efforts (tweeted by @ZolaMedia)

Her links communicate the groundswell of support, both financially and emotionally, that has grown so large, so quickly, thanks in large part to the role of social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Linked In and You Tube. 

Jane Hart shares a passionate discussion about the need for change in learning and teaching (tweeted by @netdimensions)

Jenny Luca shares on Twitter her blog post where she recommends a video of a speech by Steve Jobs on life, love, loss and death.

John Connell tweets a post about how the Scottish digital intranet enables students to keep learning when severe weather prevents them from getting to school.

Dianne Cordell shares a Winter photo on Flickr

Joyce Valenza writes about rethinking the role of the teacher librarian (library media specialist)

I wonder if we are too busy doing lots of things that don’t really matter to others.

It’s still January and this is going to come in just under the wire for suggesting resolutions. I am going to suggest a new type of resolution for school librarians.

Let’s stop resolving to do the stuff that doesn’t matter. 

Instead, let’s unresolve.

Let’s focus on those things that make an impact on learners and learning.

@coolcatteacher informs of Google certified teachers and their useful tutorials, including turning spreadsheets into self-grading quizzes

A post about the myth of internet safety; it should be internet awareness that we teach (from the blog Library Media Tech Musings)

@karlfisch asks if anyone has used the search engine Yolink

@langwitches writes about connected learning opportunities

I would like to share a small examples of how technology tools can enhance a learning experience by making (personalized) connections to what is being learned in the classroom, bringing in the outside world, and taking learning literally “off the page”.

Twitter really does churn out the good stuff, and that’s because it’s from people you’ve decided are doing the things you think are valuable. What only took minutes to pull out will provide deep learning. That was just a drop of the ocean I allowed to wash past me. You can’t keep up with everything, but you can be selective.

Whatever time you decide to give to Twitter, it will always provide plenty for deep investigation, keeping up with what’s happening in your sphere, and many, many links embedded in each tweet.

 

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Filed under 21st century learning, network literacy, networking, Web 2.0