I was thinking about this last night... What if we replicated the success of #sschat but did it with a network of all our students instead of just us teachers? I was thinking about the possibilities around having my students get involved with #sschat and asking a whole country's worth of teachers questions about the subject matter and I thought that might intrude on the original intention of the group. But what if we created another group that connects all of our students instead of just us teachers. I was thinking it could be divided into multiple subject matters so that students could connect with students who are taking the same course. You could have one for World History, US History, Government, European History, etc. American history students could ask a question, for example, and tag #ushistorychat and get a response from all of our kids! Or they can just share resources and observations about what they're learning.
Connecting teachers has beneficial to me and I'm sure for everyone else on a professional level. And that certainly trickles down to the kids. But I'm sure if we did this we could directly impact their learning and dramatically expand their PLN.
What do you guys think?
Great Idea! I have introduced Twitter to my students and have shown them the power for research and resources. Question: How do we make it safe and free of abuse among students? Do we open it up to all of our students? Is there a potential for bullying? #justsayin
I love the idea and potential. My AP students would take the idea and run with it. Currently I am doing something like this through Edmodo where it is safe and secure. Mrs. Torrison created a study group on Edmodo for AP World History students and gave them a way to connect and share. I might be more inclined to go that route rather than a more public forum like Twitter. Or maybe I'm just paranoid? lol
I'd like to use Edmodo in general next year I think in general but not sure if it makes more sense than a general google webpage or a blog for my students...(that's a WHOLE 'nother topic I'm sure).
My kids use Twitter for REALLY inappropriate things (I made the mistake of following some of my kids back earlier this year -- that ended REAL fast). To use Twitter, I might ask them to make "professional" accounts like I know many teachers use. I think that would be really cool to do with APUSH. One of my colleagues uses a Facebook account for her APUSH classes and they really like it.
Authentic communication with peers in other countries leads to powerful engagement, learning and empathy. Kids who whine about being asked to empty the dishwasher at home get a real wakeup call when a student in Senegal says, "Before school, I walk three kilometers to the well to get water for my family. I carry it back on my head." (See 17 one-minute videos of "what I do before school" in Senegal: http://cybersmart.org/africa/storytelling/gallery/
ePals provides a safe environment for teachers to meet other teachers globally -- in 200 countries -- and to have their students collaborate as well. You can use free SchoolMail, which has teacher monitoring and problem word filters. Students can have an "ePal" to write to. Small groups can create questions that go beyond the textbook and ask them of peers who live in the country. It could even be that a group writes to classes in multiple locations in a country to get responses. (Sometimes you need more than 140 characters to communicate nuances of culture!)
To help teachers get started in global collaborative learning projects, ePals and National Geographic created projects: http://www.epals.com/projects. I highly recommend "The Way We Are" as a way for social studies classes to get started. You can add content/assignments as appropriate for your learners and curriculum.
Two other projects are Holidays and Digital Storytelling.
Your students can read postings from other students on the Student Forums. If you give your students free SchoolMail accounts (or paid SchoolMail365 accounts) they can write and post as well. All posts are moderated by former teachers, so there is no issue of bullying, school-inappropriate language, etc. The "social issues" forums are ideal for discussions in social studies classes. How interesting to get reactions to students who have read "The Diary of Anne Frank" in Germany, Israel and elsewhere! Many postings are by students in ELL classes in places like Turkey, China, and Latin America, giving them practice with English and your students insight into life in other places.
Also, without any account, you and your students can view digital products in the Student Media Gallery: http://bit.ly/StMedia. See content uploaded from a girls high school in Cairo in December and early January...and after the peaceful revolution (and their viewpoint on it). See student opinions on policy changes needed because of climate change...from Belarus and India. This opportunity to see the work of other students and to learn from people living in these other places is powerful and compelling.
Check out the free eFilms that students can watch at home or wherever they have the internet. (professionally made documentaries from SnagFilms)
I'm the former ed tech director in Miami-Dade schools. Few districts block ePals.com because the site has TRUSTe certification of child privacy (which is one reason other sites are blocked in many districts).
I'd love to share how you and your students can use free tools and content from ePals in your social studies classes. Come to one of my free webinars: http://epals.101.sgizmo.com.