This week provided me the opportunity to explore social networking sites that I can use in the classroom.  I also had the opportunity to look at how to prepare students to be digital citizens and the importance of emphasizing digital citizenship ideals.  After this week I have discovered that I have barely scratched the surface of using social networking in the classroom.  Today, I use tools such as Pandora, Google Sites, and YouTube.  After exploring new ways to utilize social networking tools I now have some ideas for how I can better incorporate social networking into the sixth grade classroom.

To begin with, I would like to use a social networking site such as Edmodo or Schoology.  These are Learning Management Systems, but they have social networking functions that help to engage students and allow them to practice social networking in a safe environment.  I researched both this week and I am still not sure which would be the best system to use with sixth grade.  Jefferson County really pushes teachers to use Schoology.  I am currently using Schoology for professional purposes, but I have not looked at how to use it with students.  Fortunately my district offers a Schoology class that I can take over the summer.  After participating in the discussion I learned a little more about Edmodo.  Many of my peers suggested that this is an exceptional tool and perfect for elementary students.  I know that I would like to start utilizing one of these tools in the classroom, so my next step is to dive in and really explore both to determine which would work best.

Additionally, I enjoyed learning more about how I can use Twitter in the classroom.  I have been pseudo using Twitter by taking the tweet idea into the classroom, but not utilizing the technology resource itself.  Finally, I got the approval from the technology specialist to begin using Twitter in the classroom.  This is something that I intend to follow through with for next year.  I would like to set up a class account and do some shared writing with Twitter.  One thing that I need to find out more about is how students and their families will have access to these tweets.  I will do some research as to whether they have to have a Twitter account.

Lastly, I would like to pursue the use of blogs in the classroom.  I liked Theresa’s idea of the blog challenge and I intend to find more information to see if this is something that I can begin to use this year.  Next year I would like to start the year with blogging and have it continue throughout the entire year.  It would be great to look at how we can use blogging as a school and connect to the work we are doing with the 100 Mile Club and having students chronicle that experience.  It would be a great way to track their goals and achievements and bring the success they find on the track into the classroom. 

I enjoyed this learning topic and have some new ideas that I would like to try.  There is no doubt; social media is a powerful tool.  Students are already using these tools so it would be great to find ways to optimize these ideas in the classroom and engage students in their own learning.    

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