One of the groups I searched under the Ning social networking sight was EdubloggerWorld (http://edubloggerworld.ning.com/?xg_source=ningcom), and as I watched the introductory video I felt very welcomed. It was exciting to hear from other educators that seemed as excited about educating children as I am. I have found great support through the network of teachers I have as friends, as well as they have become great resources and idea sounding boards. The friends I have made and the ideas we have come up with and implemented together have been very successful. So the thought of connecting with other educators around the world blows my mind to the potential projects, prospectives, ideas, and supports I would be able to connect with for my own growth and betterment, and definitely for that of the students! I would be able to communicate, and possibly share with classrooms, from around the world. A member can participate in conferences without ever leaving your home or workplace. It is a community that would understand the struggles of student's and teachers, therefore, they would be understanding and speak the same universal, educational language. We are all on the same team and working toward the same goal- fighting for children's access to quality education. We could also share resource information and programs that offer free help or resources. We could create programs and grants that may close in the gaps across the world.
A learner is like a butterfly these days, going through a hyper-fast growth process from caterpillar to butterfly stage. Due to collectivism that has been created by information technology, learners do not have to go through the arduous, time consuming process of searching through physical paper materials, or making appointments to "see" an expert or health care professional to gain knowledge on a concern or question. These days answers to a learner's questions are a few clicks away on the internet's information highway. It takes much less time to connect to experts and receive answers to questions through email, blogs, and social network sites. Gaining knowledge on a particular topic for a paper or presentation in a classroom takes much less time to acquire; due to the fact one no longer has to spend time going through the process of finding materials where the information is located, then going out to seek those materials, get to a spot to either copy the materials or sit in a library going through all these materials one by one to pull pertinent information. Learners can simply type in a query and on a computer screen comes more information on a topic than a learner could ever imagine to find , or have access to in one sitting going through the old process. They have the capability of comparing and contrasting information in front of their eyes immediately, no more waiting on information from library loans, which sometimes would take weeks to days to receive. There is less time spent copying materials so the learner does not have to go through the process of finding them again, now they are constantly a click away at their fingertips. So the caterpillar is growing into a knowledgeable butterfly at a rate that far exceeds the abilities of a student's in past years.
In the article written by George Siemens, he speaks about how "formal education no longer comprises the majority of learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways-through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks." (http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm) Retrieved March 19, 2010. Children and adults have the benefits of expanding and making more connections in the knowledge they gain far beyond a classroom direct instruction and the creation of assignments, which still address only one side or aspect of the knowledge. Currently, learners can take the knowledge, open up a forum to get opinions, experiences, and other arguments and sides to issues over the Internet- it can be likened to putting all the information on a rubics cube and everytime the learner flips or twists the cube they gain a new aspect to a concept. This idea is further expressed in the video posted by Siemens where he talks about the 'actual act of simply expressing ourselves with other people on the knowledge we have expands our ability to further our own insights on a subject and gain new perspectives and ideas to add to our knowledge.' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpbkdeyFxZw&feature=PlayList&p=3E43054A8703F57A&index=4) Retrieved March 19,2010. Siemen's idea is that learners gain more from discussing knowledge with other people because we are social beings and we enjoy learning through dialog, rather than being talked at on a subject. The entire experience of having a discussion with someone is more memorable to learners and adds so much more to the learning process.
Both of these points change the classroom for teachers, whether traditional teachers realize this or not. Children are not as sheltered in their knowledge as they used to be- the Internet adds a whole new aspect to learning than traditional book learning. Learning can truly become a whole experience, even if they can't physically go into the Congo to experience it, they can "virtually" be there; then they can share their questions and experiences on the Internet and internalize the experience, thus experiencing a deeper learning process. This type of teaching can make even subjects that may not be as appealing to learners, more interesting and maybe more memorable.
1.) Children can use it as a support network socially as a part of a community networking idea in class. Children can post blogs about questions they are having
in general with growing pains and life, then spur a discussion on the issues amongst their classmates. The teacher would need to set this up in the classroom with firm guidelines and boundaries. Teachers would also need to remind students that a class blog is a safezone and their peers must be treated with respect and empathy. Subjects would have to be appropriate and students would need to be reminded that adults are monitoring this interaction. But children, especially adolescents, sometimes need to be heard by peers that can relate and understand. this could be a great way to seek support and learn to be a supporter in a classroom, community environment.
2.) It would be a great way to post a poetry or story writing assignment, to where the students would have to post a poem or story, then also read a certain number of their peer's assignments and comment on them. In the state standards for the elemen
tary grades one of the standard goals is to get children to comment on different art forms and be able to express themselves through different creative arts as well. This would be a great venue and media outlet to support those goals.
3.) The thought of having a teacher post a research assignment for any subject class and have the students do research and post their findings and list their resources on a blog came across my mind. Then I could see the teacher pulling together the research facts and discussing them in a wrap up on a final blog. This could be opened up as a collaborative effort between two different classrooms, schools, or school collaboration from another country. It would be interesting to see the results.
You will learn quickly that my passion is teaching children! Children learn with their eye-wide-open, and they remind us of important life lessons we tend to forget as busy adults. I am a life-long learner, therefore I see myself as a big child who has as much of a thirst for discovery and adventure as they do.
My career began working with emotionally and socially troubled youth in residential and community settings. This experience solidified the importance of providing children with love, attention, respect, praise and discipline, food, shelter, and safety- the basics in life, to build a strong, life-sustaining foundation for them to grow on.This foundation is what I try to help my children in my classroom build every day, so that they do not have to waste precious time as young adults trying to break unhealthy patterns and habits.Children should be provided with structure, educational stimulation, and love above all, to give them the courage to grow and prosper.
I have become deeply saddened over the years that society has peeled itself away from the belief that it takes a community to raise a child...because it does. We are all growing older as adults and we will come to the end of our journey...children are on our heels. What are we modeling and leaving behind for that next generation already beginning their walk down life's lane? How are we not all responsible to put our hands and hearts together to support the youth around us that will some day become citizens in our society.