Tag Archives: Ning

Web 2.0 Classroom Conversations

If your students are anything like mine, they love getting into heated conversations over ideas from their novels and related readings. Being typical sixth graders, all students have an opinion to express and a story to share. What I wanted to find was a way for that conversation to continue beyond the classroom; many times I needed to cut it short when students were just getting started!

Having had a lot of experience with Ning, I thought that would be the perfect vehicle. The problem is, Ning, like Facebook, requires that users be 13 years old. I couldn’t knowingly ignore this. So after searching around for a similar online experience, I finally chose Edmodo.

Edmodo is a closed, private community which looks and acts like a Facebook/Twitter hybrid. It allows for threaded discussions, polls, video uploading, and discussion groups. It totally fit the bill. Read more about why I chose Edmodo (over at my Teaching that Sticks blog) and find out how I felt about the choice after five days. Then decide for yourself is this tool is right for your class.

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The Mother Lode!

A mother lode (yes, the spelling is correct; I even looked it up) is a rich and abundant source, usually of ores or minerals.

But in the case of the ReadKiddoRead ning, mother lode refers to a resource of over 100 lesson plans for both picture books and novels. This ning is the community site of James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead site, which provides tons of reading suggestions for kids, all categorized by age and genre.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person, so I like that the ning has the lesson plans organized in an array of books covers. In addition to these plans, the ning also offers teachers and parents opportunities to share tips on motivating your readers through forums, groups, interviews, and lists.

Many of you know that I’m a member of many nings (ReadKiddoRead, Book Marketing Network, English Companion, NCTE, Teacher Librarian, Stenhouse Publishers, Writing Lesson of the Month, Elementary Tech Teachers, Elementary Teachers Network, and Classroom 2.0). Each one has its own strengths, and I’d recommend you try out a couple to see which is the best fit for you. If you happen to join any of these terrific nings, add me as a friend!

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Great Minds Thinking Alike

A couple months ago I mentioned the English Companion Ning. That group is now nearing 10,000 members, and I encourage you more than ever to get involved!

For those of you who don’t know much about Nings, here’s a quick Q and A from member Jennifer Ansbach.

What’s a Ning?
A ning is a closed social network, like a Myspace or Facebook with a restricted membership. You have a profile, a blog, and participate in forums and send/receive messages.

What is the English Companion Ning?
Started one year ago this week by English teaching guru Jim Burke, the English Companion Ning is a place to share resources, ask questions, and participate in online, self-directed professional development.

Why should I join?
Jim Burke has leveraged his author and professional connections to bring some of the leaders in English education to the ning. Members include not only Jim Burke but current NCTE president and author Carol Jago, outgoing NCTE president and author Kylene Beers, and others who publish about best practices. Each month there is a professional book club, with an online discussion led by the author. Past books included Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide and Tom Newkirk’s Holding on to Good Ideas in Times of Bad Ones. This month’s book club on improving student writing features Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them.

There are forums devoted to specific topics, with people posting their handouts, lesson plans, and strategies. In addition, there is a place to seek help for questions or for support. Yesterday someone asked what to do when your urban students admit they think you are a pushover. Within a few hours, several people had offered solid advice and resources. Earlier this year, a teacher posted about celebrating with his student teacher, putting her in her car, and having a truck kill her instantly around the corner. That teacher found a place to share his grief and also received help and ideas for putting together a fitting tribute to the young woman (his students had written letters to her that he hadn’t given to her–he crafted a eulogy of the students’ own words about what she meant to them).

It’s free to join. Just sign up on englishcompanion.ning.com. Jim Burke pays the $25 a month to keep it running and does not accept any advertising on the site. I am not a paid promoter. This week, as the ECNing celebrates its first birthday, it has 9,700 members and Jim is hoping to reach 10,000 this week. He asked us to make sure our colleagues are aware of the ning and what it has to offer.

Thanks, Jennifer! Well articulated. This ning is perfect for those of us engaged in the sometimes lonely business of teaching Reading and Language Arts!

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