I find that when working with my students, I may take the lead, sometimes pushing them in the direction in which I think they should move, instead of following them along their personal journey. When I counsel, assist, and guide them along their self-discovered path the students often become motivated and develop a love for learning. And this is the goal, to have each student pursue knowledge long after graduating from high school.
Today’s students use technology to communicate thoughts, capture and share events, and for entertainment. It makes sense to use their interest in social networking tools to draw them into an educational experience. But ah, that is the challenge. How does the teacher write a lesson that will involve the students in using flickr, youtube, picasa or similar technology tools?
As a guidance counselor and work experience coordinator I have a couple of ideas. I am going to incorporate a new lesson into the work experience packet that has each student put together a slide show of how they perform a certain function at work. They would post this assignment on a class wiki that would allow other students to view the presentation and make comments.
A lesson I want to use at the beginning of the semester is having students work in groups to create a presentation on how to properly present themselves at in interview. This is a valuable lesson for many of the students are looking for their first job and the job market is currently very tight and competitive. Both lessons would encourage the students to be creative using flickr, youtube, picasa, etc.
Online social networking tools like flickr, youtube, and picasas, can be used in a positive, fun, interactive and educational manner, allowing students to showcase their talents, spread news and awareness, interact with others in a positive, educational manner, and have ownership over their educational journey.
Steve Hargadon, the developer of Classroom 2.0 Ning site, wrote an article titled Some Things I’ve Learned About Building Effective Social Networks. In this article he shares six themes that came from a group discussion at an Educon 2.1 conference. The following points grabbed my attention.
In creating a social network for my work experience students what I am really offering is a chance for them to participate. Creating a forum for them to interact is needed for we never meet as a class. The students never have a chance to share what is happening on their job, in school and at home. Unless I connect with them at school, usually to do a credit check to make sure they are on track for graduation, I won’t find out that they lost their job, the business is closing or that their hours were cut. I may not hear that Safeway is hiring and Food City is closing. The students who are losing their job at Food City would greatly benefit from learning that Safeway is hiring. Creating a forum where the students could easily and comfortably share information would be invaluable. Social networks change how we think about sharing and discussing things with others. It is a tool that helps conversation take place.
Hargadon makes the point that social networks need to provide an environment where others can function and be seen as leaders. What a great way to promote self worth and a sense of community among my juniors and seniors who attend classes and then work. Many of them feel left and lonely because they do not have time to attend games, parties and other social events. I believe they would be encouraged from hearing that other classmates are experiencing feelings of loneliness, stress from being responsible for paying the utility bills and going to the food shelter so the parents and younger siblings can continue to have hot water, heat and dinner.
Effective social networks promote collaboration. Once the students feel comfortable sharing information, thoughts, feelings, needs and suggestions in one area of their life (work experience) perhaps they will then be more open to collaboration in other areas such as working with coworkers to come up with suggestions on how to be more efficient, save money, save time, be more customer oriented. Participation and interaction in an effective social network can promote collaboration and leadership skills that will then be used in social and work settings.
MyChurch is a Christian social network that was launched on September 6, 2006. It offers a social network service for Christian churches that follow the Nicene Creed, with features modeled after those found in MySpace and Facebook. MyChurch currently has a membership of 36,353 churches. On the site you can post and answer prayer requests, watch video sermons, view photos and blogs from the community, interact with friends from church, and announce events.
MyChurch connects the church community. Members receive encouragement and teaching through blogs. The site is a means that allows congregations to stay connected with their missionaries serving in distant lands.
MyChurch has been compared to other Christian websites such as Tangle.com (formerly GodTube) and Conservapedia. MyChurch encourages non-Christians to join.
I am considering creating an account for the church I attend in Sedona on MyChurch. Currently there are no Sedona churches listed on MyChurch. Sedona attracts many tourists. Each Sunday visitors to Sedona attend our morning service. I think that having our church listed on MyChurch might attract more visitors and make them feel at ease before attending.
Today I created my first wiki. Due to financial budget cuts in education teaching staff has been decreased. When the work experience teacher at Mingus Union High School retired, his position was not filled. Instead the guidance department was assigned the duty of instructing and monitoring work experience students. Work experience as a class does not have seat time. We only meet with the students at the beginning of the semester to hand out the assignment packet for the semester. The high school juniors and seniors are responsible for finding a job, turning in time sheets that reflect that they work at least ten hours per week, and completing a packet that includes assignments on career exploration and personal finance. As a counselor and work experience coordinator I find this form of instruction a frustrating arrangement. I want to have more contact with the students and to encourage the students to interact with one another sharing thoughts, concerns and suggestions.
I have had no training as a work experience coordinator and limited experience with creating a work experience curriculum. I have relied heavily on what was done in the past and on the few web sites I have taken the time to explore.
The wiki I created today is my first step toward improving our work experience program curriculum. It is my intent that this wiki be a tool to assist fellow work experience teachers by providing helpful web sites, wikis, and blogs. I hope colleagues will share the sites that they have created or use. My desire is for the students to become a part of developing curriculum that addresses the educational needs they are facing in today’s job market. I also want the students to use technology to create an online portfolio that they can continue to update.
Please visit my wiki and share your thoughts and suggestions.
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