I have learned a lot about social networking through this week of projects. First and foremost, I never thought that social networking was something that I could do with kids as young as third grade. But now I have seen that there are social networking projects that could be done with students as young as kindergartners. Obviously the way social networks are used and which social networks are used depends entirely on the age of the students.
There are several social network projects that would be entirely appropriate for my third grade students. Any social network that I am in control of would work just fine for my classroom. For instance, I could set up a class twitter account. My students themselves would not be manipulating the site themselves, but I could get on and show the whole class and manage the site. I could follow other classrooms or teachers. I could also follow people that apply to whatever we might be studying at the time, like astronauts when we are studying space, or children’s authors. I could also manage a blog for my entire class to post their writing. The students hand write their projects, I scan them onto the blog and the kids can go online at home to see everyone’s work. Other people from all over the world could also see my kids’ work. That creates great audience and purpose for them in their writing and gives them an authentic reason to write. I can use a cluster map to show them who is looking at their writing.
There are also several social networks that I would feel comfortable allowing my students to use on their own. I definitely want to pursue Edmodo and find out more about that site. It seems as though that would be a secure and easy way for my students to “blog” and do work online. It would be a great stepping-stone into the world of social networking for them. It would also allow me to introduce Internet safety rules and digital citizenship at an early age. I think that students are using technology at younger and younger ages and we need to prepare them for the real world in which technology is a staple.
I will most definitely be using our beginning of the year professional development time in the fall to introduce Edmodo and whole class blog and twitter accounts to the teachers on my staff. I will do extensive work with my grade level team to incorporate these technologies into our curriculum.