In preparation for this week’s class, I watched the video The Machine is (Changing) Us from Michael Wesch. I was fascinated by the history as well as with the movement that can be created by the use of social media. I tend to be the eternal optimist and although I am not unaware of the potential downfalls, I think that the potential for good, such as the Free Hugs and hand messages examples provided far outweighs the bad.
I, myself, have been involved in three such movements in the last few months. The first was a 24 hour virtual Read-a-thon. It was entirely organized through Twitter and blogs. Dewey’s Read-a-thon is held twice a year. The next event is next weekend, October 9th. When I last participated in April, there were over 300 readers and many cheerleaders and event hosts. There were many parents sharing their love of reading with their children. This was a heart-warming experience for me.
The second event happened just prior to “Banned Book Week,” which is this week in the U.S. I had never heard of banned book week. I knew that there were books that were banned, but when I started reading about the sheer number of books and WHICH books were being banned, even today, I was floored! I started seeing the hashtag #speakloudly appear more and more often in my Twitter feed. I started investigating. The talk was all about the fight against book censorship in general and the movement oppose the comments made about the book “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. You can read more about this topic in my blog post here. What happened following this was a boom of blog posts, people talking, people buying the book in protest! It was inspiring to be a part of. It opened my eyes and made me want to do something! (The opposite of the apathy Michael Wesch spoke of.)
The third event was more local… Through Facebook and Twitter, I was able to follow the planning and the making of a flash-mob dance put together by In Motion Saskatchewan. I wasn’t able to be there, but I am still astonished by the fact that this was accomplished because of the use of these social media tools. What a great model of healthy living to share with our kids!
So, where does all of this leave me? I believe that social media has great potential for creating positive change and exponential learning. The use of these tools in creating the learning communities Dr. Schwier spoke of is invaluable. However, this leaves me in a bit of a conundrum in my classroom. Most of these sites (in fact, almost all of them) have age restrictions. You must be at least 13 years old to create accounts. I teach 8-9 year olds. Where can I go to create some of these learning experiences for my students? Have you done things with your younger students? I would love to hear your feedback and ideas on this topic.