Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skyping with Clarence Fisher-Personal Learning Networks

Clarence’s idea of the role of a teacher is to “hook kids up to other people as teachers—connect to others who are the experts.”

As a reluctant blogger, it was reassuring to hear him say that a blog is a place to grow—a place where a community of like-minded people can comment and contribute to our thinking and ideas.

He has done a tremendous amount of work to help his students understand the “bigger world and develop a broader perspective.” As I listened to him tell about requiring his students to read about current technology, news from Africa, global issues and environmental issues, AND write at least once a week about something that they have read, I thought about what an “international education” he is giving his students right there in Manitoba, Canada.

Three things from his talk:

1. “Kids don’t innately know what to do in a blog space.” They need good models to get started, and they need many models to help them see the possibilities.

2. Having the Tabs set for the students assures that they are accessing reliable sources and gives the teacher control over the subject, matter making the time students give to doing the reading worth it.

3. Using a personal learning network to get kids talking to each other, spread ideas and learn from each other also provides them with an authentic audience for what they write.

Hearing from Clarence about his many projects gives me ideas for a wider use of the ES Grade 3 portaportal. Finding suitable reading material online for elementary students is not easy, but necessary to help them along with their own PLNs.

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