1. Now that there is unlimited potential to celebrate the work of students with their communities, what is the best way to mange this opportunity?
I believe publishing student work on a classroom blog is one of the most effective ways to share a student's work with family and community members. Students might stay more focused and work harder on projects if they know that people they care about from outside of the school will be viewing their work. In this way the blog promotes extrinsic motivation for students whom want to impress community members, or simply express themselves to audiences they never had before. November asks us to consider how students would respond in a sporting event, or a recital, or a theatrical performance they were taking part in that didn’t have an audience (2010, p.43). If we don’t expect student to participate in these events without authentic audiences how can we expect our students to participate in the classroom without authentic audiences
Secondly, if students are working on a research project or a data collection project, using the internet to share their research and data with organization that want it is a great way to give students purpose and a sense of relatedness to their communities. One example from Empowering students with Technology was a group of students in Massachusetts whom were helping a global climate change group collect and analyze data. Students were able to share their data and thoughts via Skype, and they were also able to get instant feedback from experts in the field (November, 2010, p. 36). I think that this must have been a great learning experience for the students as well as an awesome motivator.
2. How can we create authentic work and relationships for our students to give them a deeper meaning in relation to complex issues such as globalization and cultural sensitivity?
To enhance cultural sensitivity students can use technologies to conduct interviews with members of cultures that they have never met, but have only studied about in their classes. A story form November about a boy who inadvertently shows his cultural ignorance by making some very incentive comments to a Puerto Rican girl via Skype gives me a great idea for a lesson on cultural sensitivity (2010, p. 39). By prompting students to write about a culture before an interview takes place, and then revising this essay after the interview students can see the stereotypes they had been using and they can reflect on why these stereotypes are bad.
Another great way to get to know someone is through collaboration. Students can work with people from other cultures on a common project via the internet and in doing so build strong relationships. They can keep a blog of their interactions and discuss how their feelings toward their new colleagues have changed over time and write about what they have learned about this other culture and how it has changed their global views.
The great thing is we don’t even need to converse with people around the world, we can talk to students from different regions of the USA. I think I would be great if an environmental science teacher spent some time talking about the oil disaster currently going on in the Gulf of Mexico, and then to get her class in touch with students from the affected region to see how the crisis have impacted their lives.
3. What are the emerging collaborative relationships for teachers?
Just as it is an effective tool for students to receive feedback on their work from anonymous reviewers via the internet (November, p. 5) it can be incredibly helpful for teachers to use the online community to enhance their skills. Although teachers may know a lot about their subjects it is not possible to know everything or be up to date on everything. November offers a story about an American poetry teacher who reached out via the Internet to a teacher in Japan who was able to give him great insight in the art of the haiku (November, p. 52).
I have my own personal story of how the online community of teachers has helped me with my pre-service teacher studies. Yesterday in our Learning Theories class GNA was telling us about this “great teacher,” Vicki Davis, who had some really interesting ideas about how to get students motivated. First we watched a documentary style video about Vicki in her classroom and then we blogged about her teaching style. Using twitter GNA contacted Vicki to inform her of our learning activity that involved her. Vicki seemed excited so GNA encouraged us to ask her questions via our blog post, and Vicki actually responded to my question before class was over! I was amazed, first at how super nice Vicki was for responding, but second at how connected I felt to this online community of teachers that I never knew existed before. I’m realizing just how powerful a tool it is, and we would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
Parents are also extremely important in the learning process of our students. From my personal experience in the high school I know that many teachers feel their relationships with parents are more of a hassle than help, but we cannot deny the power of a family that is reinforcing the concepts and the attitudes that we are promoting in the school. Through the publishing of assignments on class blogs and through easy to access to video conferences parents can be more involved with their child’s academic career than ever before. It’s an awesome opportunity as educators to connect with parents in this way and I am excited to start building these relationships.