Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Socially Networked Classroom by William Kist

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.


  1. HI
    This was my review of the book: http://dogtrax.edu.glogster.com/sociallynetworkedbookreview/


  2. Anonymous4:15 PM

    Oooh, exactly the book I need to get! And will look at the Ning! Thanks for posting this.

  3. I will have to put this book on my must read list. Thanks for the review.

  4. This is a great write-up, Franki. I'm not even a teacher, and you made me want to read the book anyway.

  5. I just ordered this last week because of the Ning discussion. I can't wait to read it. I had to laugh when I read your comment with the excerpt, "The writing is on the wall or the screen." I was just doing reading for a writing course I am taking and the authors talked about "The writing is on the wall," and I had written a note to myself about how blogging/sharing via 21st Century literacies seemed to be an appropriate form of sharing even though it is not literally on the wall.

  6. I also talked about this book on my blog: http://somenovelideas.typepad.com/some-novel-ideas/2009/11/focusing-on-teaching-with-purpose.html
    I think it is a tremendous resource. Great post, ladies!

  7. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Gotta find a copy of this... looks right up my alley. Thanks for the rec!

  8. I love what you are doing with this blog. I share your desire to help kids read more AND use technology, which is such a delicate balance. Here's a piece I just finished on the need to read and the tension that we face with technology.


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