It's Elementary!

by Jamie Forrest

Reflecting… September 30, 2010

Filed under: Class reflections,eci831 — Jamie @ 4:51 am

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.


5 Responses to “Reflecting…”

  1. You might check out Google offerings that are free and protect students within their accounts. They have google education that is a free collection of google resources.

  2. Emory Says:

    I enjoyed the post Jamie. I think its important to see the good and be an “eternal optimist”, while keeping in mind Michael Wesch’s points that while we use the media, it uses us as well and there really is no way to opt out of new media.
    That being said I think there is a great need at a young age to start to model the appropriate use of social media for students. I want my kids and their peers to have teachers and guides who feel the potential for good can outweigh the bad and are willing to start the conversation.
    I’ve seen a lot of success in classrooms where students begin in a closed or moderated environment and the teacher is a admin for the sites, blogs or platforms. Wikis, blogs or sites like Edmodo might be good places to start with young students.

  3. ktenkely Says:

    Love the idea of a virtual read a thon!
    You are absolutely right, most social media sites need to be 13 or older in order to use them. Here are a few ideas for you: can be a walled community or not, lets kids blog and communicate with only kids at your school or kids around the world depending on your preferences. a virtual world for kids (mine LOVED this) where they can meet and interact with literary characters in history. (this one went away for a while but is coming back) blogging and projects for kids.
    Another thing I did a lot for my students that were under 13 is to create a classroom account where I could moderate everything. Then students just logged into the one account and saved work. I could moderate everything and didn’t have to worry about age limits.

  4. amy Says:

    great post! and as a librarian, talking about banned content is near and dear to my heart.

    what about a read-a-thon that is about web content instead of books?

    instead of promoting literacy through reading of print and e-books, you promote information literacy by asking students to read an age-appropriate blog/site with frequent updates.

    as a librarian, i really find there is too much differentiation between the “containers” (books, journals, wikis, blogs, tweets, smoke signals etc) and not enough critical viewing of the content.

    you could also use this to show them why this blog is a “good” blog (it is written by an authoritative source, it looks at all sides of an issue, etc.)

  5. olabakri Says:

    Great post Jamie. I really enjoyed the video. He asked many valid questions, but I really remember is “whatever”. It”s amazing how the meaning of this word can evolve to explain many changes of our age.

    As for the You tube phenomenon, he is totally right. But, I think that people want to be seen to voice their concerns because may be they cannot do that with their family, friends, etc… It’s a very effective way to say ” world… here I am listen to me”

    There are various studies done about social networks and whether they “disconnect people” because instead of meeting they you just facebook or twitter. However, there are other studies that say that these networks have brought people together otherwise people would not meet. we have to understand the nature of our current society and that it’s totally disfragmented society.

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