I have been reading lots professionally dealing with 21st Century Literacies. I have watched my own literacy change over the last few years and I am excited about the impact it can have for children in education. THE SOCIALLY NETWORKED CLASSROOM: TEACHING IN THE NEW MEDIA AGE by William Kist is my new favorite on the topic. I like it for lots of reasons:
-Kist gets into lots of classrooms and helped me to create a vision of what this could actually look like. It is clear that he works with a variety of teachers so he shows us many possibilities for social networking in the classroom.
-He is realistic in his understanding of the challenges we face as teachers trying to implement social networking. So, he takes time to share ideas no matter what kinds of blocks and constraints you have in your school/district. He gets to the bigger picture of 21st Century skills so that there is an in for everyone.
-He balances the theory with practical examples and some info on some terms we may not know. His voice is easy to follow and even when he is introducing something that was new to me, he helped me understand the tool as well as implications for student learning.
Early in the book, Kist says, "This book takes the stand that the writing is on the wall or rather on the screen: Schools are going to have to move past whatever barriers exist and closer to the literacy practices increasingly used in the "outside world". No matter where you may be on the continuum of believing in or disbelieving the construct of "childhood", there can be no doubt that communication in this new century is going to be different than communicating in the old century-not necessarily better or worse but different..."
Later he goes on to say that this book "chronicles the sometimes messy first steps of educators who are attempting to include social networking inside real schools and who are grappling with all the challenges that come along with this new kind of teaching."
If you are thinking about this topic at all, I would say this is a must-read. Even though it is written specifically for teachers of grades 5-12, I found it to be very applicable to elementary grades. I could see how things could be tweaked a bit to work for younger kids.
The English Companion Ning is beginning a book talk on THE SOCIALLY NETWORKED CLASSROOM this week. Bill Kist will be leading the discussion. I am anxious to get a sense of what others are doing with this issue and to hear others' responses. I think this book is going to make a huge impact on classrooms as we work to figure out the role of social networking in our classrooms.