Name: Ginger Lewman
Educational Institution: Turning Point Learning Center, ESSDACK (Educational Service and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas)
Teaching Environment: Charter school for USD 253 (Emporia KS), grades 5-8 collaborative classroom
Web 2.0 Focus: Social Networking
Description: I've been toying with Ning networks since last April when I was introduced to Classroom 2.0. At first, I was daunted, seeing so many people in the network talking about things I'd never even heard about. However, keeping my students in mind and fearlessly mimicking their style, I jumped right in, made a few comments, posted a few discussion items and began to find that the community in Classroom 2.0 seemed to be able to answer ALL of my possible questions, no matter how simple or complex! I began to see it as my own 24-hour feedback station, technical support, or friend-in-kind, where I could offer support to others as well (as you do in a true community). Until I discovered CR2.0, I thought I was a weirdo, all alone in the educational world with my thoughts of overturning educational status quo! I began to reach tentacles out to the "big names" in education reform and my knowledge base again leaped! Now, not only was I out-learning my students in technology tools, I was growing stronger in my own philosophical views of right/wrong in schools, and doing so in professional discourse.
It was at this point, I began to gain fuel and consider the energizing effects this may have on other communities with which I'm involved. I started a network, Gifted Education 2.0, which is slowly, steadily growing, and also joined a few more networks. I then tried to find ways to incorporate more student-friendly communities for my classroom, which, in the past 2 weeks is beginning to grow (despite the hindering effects of district filtering). The students are LOVING this additional dimension of communication. Social networking is what the Read/Write Web or Web 2.0 is about! We can come together collectively to share our personal knowledge into something bigger than ourselves. This year, through distance collaborations forged in CR2.0, my students will be learning to think of "what time is it?" in terms of GMT and not simply CST. They are learning cultural interaction skills. They are learning to be true citizens of the early 21st century with manners and skills! We are no longer constrained by time or distance in learning; social networks transcend all those pesky hurdles.
Teaching and Learning: Social networking allows my students to thoughtfully experience not only academic learning, but also create a true community. In our setting, with ages 10-14 all in the same classroom together and looping year after year, it's important that we respect one another and this is a super-quick way to build that friendly family-camaraderie. Even if I was teaching in a traditional classroom with the 42 minute classes and revolving door of 120 students a day, I'd find a way to use social networking as THE essential tool for getting my middle school students to begin to see one another as thoughtful humans with feelings and abilities, and value one another's individual contributions.
Preferred Applications: Ning, Twitter, Google Docs, Skype, Chat (iChat/AIM), wikis (actually a combination of all these is perfect).
Mentor(s) and Hero(es): #1 Mentor has been my colleague and close friend, Kevin Honeycutt, who introduced me to Classroom 2.0 and the amazing community therein. After him, there seems to be so many others who've contributed so much, as a good social networking experience should be.
Favorite Web 2.0 Applications Right Now: Voice Thread, Google Applications (especially the Calendar, Docs/Spreadsheets, and Reader), Twitter (haven't introduced it to students yet, but I'm seeing great value on a professional level)