I've been playing around with a few new and not-so-new tools online as my brain tries to ready itself for a new year of teaching. My role is changing slightly this year in terms of my release time and I will be in the classroom for 4 out of the 5 days in the school week. So there's excellent opportunities to connect my students using some of the tools I've been investigating and utilising during 2006. These are mainly 11 year old students so whatever I introduce needs to be age appropriate and aligned to the needs of their curriculum.
Does anyone remember Edblogger News? Well, the buzz around that idea seems to have cooled a bit but the tool that was used by Will Richardson to set it up has a bit of classroom potential in my mind. My idea is to set my own class CrispyNews site up with my class blogs at learnerblogs (once parental permission is in place) as well. From here, I can post web pages of interest or relevance to the learning program. There are quite a few ways this site could be used. I can push items tied to a theme or topic onto the list, get the students to choose and read and promote their favourite items up the list. This becomes a way of getting the students reading critically online and because we are looking at the same list, this becomes a great way of creating discussion based on differing perspectives on the same items. I'm thinking that I could get some reflective blogging from the students based on this list as well that gets them starting on the skills of linking when writing as they connect back to the articles that stimulate their thinking. Not too far down the track, I'd love to get the kids posting their finds from the web onto CrispyNews as well and having that become a barometer for the students' interests that can be tied into their curriculum. That brings in so much in terms of effective searching, reading online content effectively and responding to other students' ideas and opinions.
I've got a few other ideas percolating as well but 2007 is the chance for me to swing my focus away from what Web 2.0 can do for teachers (although I won't be neglecting that) and "putting my money where my mouth is" in terms of using new technologies within my classroom. I'll keep you posted on whether these theoretical ideas actually work in practice after the school year starts at the end of January.