03 September 2010


    I announced the Year of Reading to my juniors yesterday. We are doing SSR at least one day a cycle. Because my school is a "no social media" school, I am not sure where this will go--for instance, the first time someone asks me if they can do their SSR on a kindle, nook, or their phone, I think I have to say no.  (it even hurts to type it!) I cannot fault administration for putting safety first, but am growing confused with  the vagueness of the term "social media." It seems to mean different things to different people, and am not sure how far it goes. Most teachers in my school are assuming it just means no facebook friending of students. I get that. I never friended them anyway. I am not their friend, I am their teacher, and want to stay in their memory that way--with the learning they experienced in my class. But I would have liked to start a private facebook page for my courses, which would create a central place for homework and project updates. And they might actually chat with each other about Beowulf!!!! Some of my other tools I would like to introduce to my colleagues include:

screenjelly, jing
diigo, delicious, digg, stumble upon, reddit
glogster, prezi
google docs; google scholar, evernote
aviary, audacity, garage band
reader, bloglines, RSS reader, feedburner
librivox, google books, Project Gutenberg, scribd
wikispaces or PBWiki
blogger or tumblr,  edublogs
 garage band
wordle, quizlet

   All of these promote reading and writing, creativity and collaboration. They support some of the fundamental ways that kids' learning is changing. And yes, most of them are social. I have used many of them with the blessing of my school. But the line between useful, essential and dangerous is getting blurrier by the minute. I  am not sure where it is anymore.
   So this year's challenge for me is shaping up to be about social media. How do we define it at my school? What is our mission as we prepare students for their world? I think I need to step lightly, but continue the journey started when I first encountered a blog four years ago and saw the potential for my kids.
This will also be the year I begin to market to my colleagues (not just the poor English department, who hears about it constantly) more aggressively the essential changes that are happening in our students, in our culture and to our futures. I am starting with a diigo group for the English Department at my school. If we teachers bow out of the process that is evolving all around us, we have made ourselves obsolete. They will not need us to learn and we will not be able to teach them anyway. This year's challenge is to take the long view, and know that it will just take a little longer than I planned to lead my students to their futures.

UPDATE: Just saw this: speaks to the question at hand!

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