There are some things you do because you have to, and there are some things you do because they’re important. Working together 2 make a difference is something I do because it’s important. I don’t do it alone. I work with Angela and Laura Stockman from New York State who believe in it just as much as I do.
But we’d like to see it grow. We have 44 members currently from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States , but we’d love to see our reach extend to more participants from all corners of the globe. Angela sums up what we’re looking for with this;
We’re eager to encourage membership and make this space valuable to those who join, but I don’t think that any of us wants to have more of a presence in this space than any other member. We truly want to encourage collaboration and meaningful participation. In short, we WANT people to WANT to be there.
Take a look at Mike Poluk’s page. Here’s a teacher from Canada inspiring his yr 5 students to do something positive. Teenager Sarah Hanson has got behind us and has written an article that will be published in a WNY newspaper in the near future. Helen Page has done great things with Year 9 students from her public school here in Australia. Amanda Ritter is embarking on her efforts and is embedding it into curriculum. All of these examples inspire me to encourage and support the students I teach in their efforts.
I don’t know if you’ve ever done something that makes a difference to the lives of others. It is truly something to experience that feeling of giving and it’s a feeling we need to allow our students to experience. Join the site and do something within your school community that will help out others in need. You’ll feel good, your kids will feel good and you’ll be making a difference.
Because a ning helps build community amongst your students. And a community that is supportive of one another and where students feel comfortable sharing is one where learning can thrive.
So what does it need to achieve this? It needs motivated and interested leaders who can prompt discussion and help foster it. It needs buy in.
It’s what I’m trying to develop this year with the Year 9 English students and staff at my school. I posted this comment on our International PLP ning in reference to it;
I launched a ning this week for our Yr 9 English students- approx 80 students in all. More than half the yr level have already joined and some are posting comments over the weekend. One student even signed up at 10.55pm tonight! When I introduced it I made it clear that at this stage it was for our school community, but explained that we may invite classrooms from beyond our school in or eventually make it open. Right now, I’m interested in seeing how community forms amongst the yr level inside the ning. I’m pretty sure my colleagues will be supportive and will encourage their students to participate.
The sheer fact that kids have been participating without prompting has me excited. Now we have the platform to showcase what they can do. I hope to get them working on some digital tasks that they can upload and share with their peers. Linking our classrooms is the first step. Next step, the world!
One of the things I think I’ve observed over the past year is that there are many people in our networks who participate but don’t do. I think I ‘do’ or at least try to. We have to start thinking about the tools we can use that are going to extend the thinking of our students and help them make some connection to the idea that they can make use of these tools for their educational benefit. When I launched this with the students I asked them did they belong to any social networks. They didn’t know what I was talking about – the language was unfamiliar to them. When I mentioned myspace and facebook at least 95% raised their hands. I’m hopeful they will start to see the connection between what they are doing socially and what they are going to be doing educationally. Then they may see how it is they can create a very positive digital profile for themselves that will serve them well as they make their way through life.
I’ll keep you posted as to how our community forms and what kind of buy in we have. And I promise I’ll be honest about it. If it’s not succeeding I’ll let you know, and if if it’s thriving, I’ll be doubly sure to let you know!!