Improving writing using A four year user talks about her success and how she did it.

Great podcast about from a four year veteran
One of my favorite edubloggers dynamos, Wesley Fryer, commented on my post yesterday about how our school using for my summer assignments and pointed out his incredible podcast entitled and Digital Social Networking where he interviewed Cheryl Oakes’, an elementary technology facilitator who has used in Wells Elementary School in Wells, Maine. Last summer she kept up and saw students using it over the summer.

He has some great show notes which includes Screenshots of the environment.

Telling the story
This is definitely one of those stories that we need to tell about the positive impact of social networking in schools. Cheryl talks about how the emerging “digital natives” that she is seeing in elementary school has caused the use of tools like to “mushroom” over the past few years.

Observations from Wesley's and Cheryl's podcast

Here are some of the things that most impressed me about Wesley's and Cheryl's great podcast!

Positive things Cheryl has seen online:

  • She has observed great interactions from surveys and writing.
  • She starts very simply. (What is your favorite color, etc.) She talks about how surveys progress and as student results come from around the world from other students which give great opportunities for students to interact and understand people from around the world.
  • She has seen that after students start surveying in basic topics, that their use turns into more academic subjects. (Remember, she is talking about elementary students.)
  • She has seen significant improvements in writing abilities without any degredation into IM speak.
  • She is noticing a fascinating development in poetry writing where students around the world each write a line.

Her school has a “no strikes allowed policy.” She allows no bullying and in the first year, she had three students lose theirprivilegess and account. She did say that most of the comments were innocuous (on a scale of 1 to 10 she rated them a 1,) three students still lost theirprivilegess. She has seen no one lose their privilegess this year because of their immediate action.

Other Great notes!

  • Wes thinks it is important that kids need to make mistakes when adults are around so that they can get feedback and be steered correctly.
  • Wes also thinks it is so important to leverage the interest that kids have in using social tools to improve their writing.

On Selling the use of to administration
Cheryl has been using for four years! Wow! She had difficulty selling it to administration at first. The explained how limited it was and how easy it was to shut down. She has the children and parents sign an internet use policy. Cheryl has the students sign out their permission form and gives the parent the option to shut down the page after the school experience was done.

Cheryl also talks about how she has recently handled myspace questions that have emerged from parent teach conferences and how she addresses the concerns.

Privacy Protection
She also points out the policy of no personal photographs on the site. Cheryl does enforce it (and I do to.) Every photo goes into the review queue and I have to approve them. That is where you stop the use of the photo.

Profanity Protection
She also points out how it handlesinappropriatee words. Students get a notice that they've usedinappropriatee language and the teacher is notified that the student tried to use the word and what the word was. The list is quite long and you can look at it in if you really want to look at curse words!

Digital Citizenship
They also have a great discussion on digital citizenship. She talks about how students from other countries may seem “rude” when they are typing in English as a second language. She also discusses the differing school calendars between hemispheres.

I love

After a day of working on with my students, they have responded very positively.

If your school is having difficulty with myspace and blogging, this is definitely a way that you can go!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

Cheryl Oakes May 22, 2006 - 9:49 am

Wow!, what a great endorsement to read first thing Monday morning. I just echo all that you said. We just recently went through extreme flooding for us. 15 inches of rain in 4 days. Many roads were washed out, school was cancelled for 3 days. During the 3 days of school being washed out our students continued to be on sharing their stories, photos of the flood and comforting one another. Also, each night I posted a no school message. This is just a powerful tool for our students and they appreciate it. I’ll be looking for you and your students online. Over and out, Cheryl Oakes

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