Tagged: social networking

Kanawinka Student Network Ning!

Screencapture from Kanawinka Student Network

All my Year 7 students need to check their school email accounts for an invitation to join the Kanawinka Student Network. This Ning will be a place for you to connect and collaborate with students from Portland P.S. and Camperdown College as part of our Kanawinka project. We are having two school visits, to Portland (5th June) and Camperdown (10th June) to introduce these students to blogs, wikis and nings and to make some friends. Follow the links on your email message and join the ning, when you have been approved as a member, you can add photos or videos, start discussions and contact other members.

Footprints – carbon and digital

Photo Source

I am familiar with the term ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘ecological footprint’ but I hadn’t heard of a ‘digital footprint’ until recently. This article, from the PEW Internet and American Life Project, describes how internet users are becoming more aware of their ‘digital footprint’  – the number of sites that turn up when searching for their own name. The first time I curiously Googled “Britt Gow” I found obscure references to an asian card game  and one or two articles that had been posted by our local council and teacher’s union. One year, over 100 blog posts, countless blog comments and several wikis and nings later, I have a digital footprint of over ten pages. The learning curve has been steep, but social networking has been a valuable tool for professional development, especially as a teacher in a small country school. I hope my students will also benefit from the opportunities provided by social networking tools – as they already do informally on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

This term my Year 7 and Year 9 classes have enjoyed an “On Line Science Fair” with students from Mrs Laguna’s class in Philadelphia. I think the full benefits of social networking sites take longer than ten weeks to establish, so I will begin next year with a class wiki and maintain our relationship with overseas teachers with the intention of further collaboration.

Twitter and Ning

Yes, I’m learning a new language and becoming an (on-line) alien in my own home! I have finally discovered a social network of middle-years science teachers on Twitter and Ning. Until now, a lot of what I have been reading has been on the borderlines of my interest and not directly relevant to my classroom practise. Now I have found other teachers who share my interests and goals. One great project I heard about on Classroom 2.0, is a Unit 2 Outdoor and Environment Studies blog, where each of the students is using Utterli to record and post their findings and reflections using mobile phones, while camping and bushwalking in the Grampians National Park. Awesome!

Another great project I have come accross was created by Anne Baird, from Wedderburn P12 College, a Intel master trainer, who collaborated with a teacher in Andale, Kansas, U.S. on an environmental learning unit (” It’s not Easy being Green”). Students in both countries watched the video “An Inconvenient Truth” as a stimulus, and used a wiki to share their ideas and compare their ecological footprints.

I’ve also discovered an on-line text “Science for All Americans” with interesting chapters about Effective Learning and Teaching. Now I need to learn the art of focussing on the task and not getting distracted by possibilities and opportunnities in other directions.

Periodic table of the elements – videos!

Photo Source

Beth Still from the Nebraska Educators Network follows Will Richardson on Twitter, which had a link to this great site for chemistry teachers: The Periodic Table of Videos – short videos about each of the elements of the periodic table. So I’ve been back to Twitter and found some friends, and now I think I understand better how it works. It seems nothing I try really takes off the first time – I need a few months to let the idea brew – perhaps until I see a purpose for it – and then go back to it. It just seems to reinforce that learning is best done on an ‘as-needs’ basis. Make it relevant, authentic and interesting.

A Ning for year 7 students

A ning is a web-based forum where members can start discussions, contribute to conversations, upload images, add videos and create groups. I have been a member of the educator’s ning, Classroom 2.0, for a few months and it is a valuable professional network where I can learn from my peers and connect with colleagues around the globe. I have created a Ning for our Year 7 class as part of the Knowledge Bank: New Generation Collaborative Learning and Research Project. You can find it at:


I ask all year 7 students and their parents to become members, so that we can communicate, collaborate and celebrate together!

Collaborative Research and Learning Project

This term I am participating in a Knowledge Bank: New Generation action research program. I am investigating whether social networking can improve student outcomes in middle years maths and science classes. I am narrowing down the choice of web 2.0 tools suitable for mathematics to Voicethread, Mathtrain (videos) and Jing. This article, Jing transforms Maths classroom, is a case study of how a Year 7 Maths teacher has motivated students and improved confidence using Jing videos. Here are links to some of the Voicethreads we are collaborating on with Mrs Laguna’s Year 8 Maths class:

Fraction problems

What’s the difference?

Algebra Shopping

The Adventures of Martin the Metric Ruler

I was interested to recieve a comment from one of my students who was reluctant to put her ‘eye-dissection’ slideshow on her blog. Although she enjoyed the practical work, she thought viewers would be disgusted! I think all students have strong feelings of ownership of their blogs (as I do), and some have very definate ideas about it’s content and appearance. So, students who are reluctant maths and/or science learners, may prefer not to have these subjects featured on their blogs.

Like trying to knit with a knife and fork?

My action research project with the Knowledge Bank: New Generation Collaborative Learning and Research Project is about social networking and maths and science learning in the middle years. First, what is social networking? My own definition would include sites that allow participants to upload text, photos, videos, audio and other items they have created, to share with others and allow comments from other participants. From a student perspective, it gives them an authentic audience, apart from their teachers, parents or classmates. Due to this wider audience, I believe it also makes students more reflective about their work and more inclined to do their best. Some of the social networking tools useful in educational contexts include:

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Nings, Elgg (like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo)
  • Scribd, skrbl (collaborative text)
  • Google docs (collaborative spreadsheets)
  • Flickr, Photobucket, Picassa (images)
  • Teachertube, You Tube, Mathtrain (videos)
  • Slideshare, Slide, Picturetrail, Animoto (moving images)
  • Podcasting, Voicethread (audio)

This page has a collection of various web 2.0 sites, many of which would be considered social networking tools. http://learningweb2.wikispaces.com/Step+Two (Thanks Marg for this link).

But, are all of these tools applicable to maths and science learning? Is trying to use these tools like trying to knit with a knife and fork – they are great tools but for a different purpose, and you end up with an inferior product that is more difficult and takes longer to produce?

Part of the appeal of web 2.0 is it’s new and different, but when it is used often, will it lose this appeal and become another ‘chore’ for students? Hopefully, my research will help me to answer some of these questions – stay tuned!

Collaborative Learning and Research Project

“Can social networking tools improve student outcomes in middle years maths and science classes?”

This is the question I will be trying to answer over the next twelve weeks or so, with my year 7 and year 9 classes. I have created a Google docs survey for my students to complete prior to starting the project, and then again at the end of the project to determine if their is any impact on their learning from using social networking tools, such as blogs and wikis. Here is the survey: