By: Karl Fisch

One of the fascinating things about PLP is how quickly folks start sharing ideas and resources with one another. This year’s ADVIS cohort just started up on September 29th and there is already some great sharing going on. In response to a question about whether anyone was using social networking in their classrooms, Margaret Haviland quickly responded:

We began experimenting with a Ning website last year in our upper level history classes at Westtown. We were looking for a way to get kids talking about current events. Our students are always telling us that living in a boarding school, they are cut off from the rest of the world. We were so happy with the experiment that we have expanded it this year and have 160 students involved. Each teacher has a slightly different approach to what students post as their “original” current event. For instance, students in Latin American History must post stories based in Latin America. Students are encouraged to reply to any post they want within the entire forum. In my own classes, Ancient World History and World History from the late classical period to World War I students have a specific list of news sources to choose from, I want to wean them off of CNN, BBC, NYTimes. Our modern world history students are being asked to focus on issues in the Middle East. We had some great threads this past year. Everything from the place and role of video games in teenage lives, to environmental degradation of the Brazilian rain forests, to modern art trends in China. Right now there is a vibrant thread going related to the Newsweek Magazine cover on whether or not babies are born with a tendency to prejudice.

This is an excellent example of the power of the learning network that PLP facilitates, and of how to use a Ning in an engaging, meaningful and relevant way. It also mirrors my own experience in terms of student work on the web – when we give them the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions both inside and outside of school, they respond.

How have you used tools like Ning in your classroom?

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Karl Fisch

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