Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tips for New Classroom 2.0 Teachers

Every veteran teacher knows that the first 6 weeks of school are the key to success for the rest of the year. The tone you set in your classroom and the practice of routines you establish with your students are key to creating a successful learning environment. Yet, despite 6 weeks of ‘practice”, classroom activities don’t always go as planned and when unplanned chaos takes over, teachers regroup, come at it from another approach, and often seek the advice of their peers. Thank goodness for veteran teachers who are willing to share tips like those found at Middle Web’s First Days of Middle School.

These wonderful ideas have been built from years of “experience” in Classroom 1.0. The educational technology world is filled with advocates for Classroom 2.0 who share the opportunities of Web 2.0. But some are starting to ask questions like “Why are more teachers not flocking to use Web 2.0 tools?”

Maybe, what teachers need is some really concrete tips and strategies on ‘management’ in a Classroom 2.0 learning space. Pioneers of Classroom 2.0 are ‘experimenting’ themselves; not all these experiments work exactly as planned. We need to remember that not all teachers or administrators work in an environment where they feel safe or supported to be pioneers in such a public arena as Web 2.0. This is much different than trying something new inside your own building or classroom. Fears of legal repercussions fuel environments that are not supportive of implementing a Classroom 2.0 model.

Perhaps those of us who do work in supportive environments should not only share our stories in terms of the opportunities that Web 2.0 bring us as a learning community, but we should start to put together a page filled with tips and strategies that teachers interested in using Web 2.0 tools could use to get started. These tips would also benefit IT Staff and School Administrators who would be more supportive of Web 2.0 tools in education if they could see a collective inventory of concrete classroom management (or risk management) strategies.

So in that spirit I’m going to start with three Classroom 2.0 management tips and invite other pioneering educators to comment with their own advice. Remember that what might be obvious to a seasoned Web 2.0 teacher might not always be obvious to a “first year” newbie interested in creating a Classroom 2.0 learning environment.

  • Create more than one email account using web based services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail that you can use to sign up for web 2.0 tools.

  • Start by limiting your use of Web 2.0 tools to inside your classroom until you feel comfortable that your students understand the rules for using these tools. Just like students need “practice” to learn what it looks like and sounds like to take a trip to the library, they will need your guidance to visit a virtual location such as a class wiki. And don’t give up if one of your students steps out of line, anymore than you would give up going to the library.

  • If your students are under 13, consider signing in using one of your alternate web based email to register for a “classroom” account to a Web 2.0. tool. You can then sign in “yourself” as the teacher to a tool (like a WIKI) that you want your students to contribute to OR you can give them the username and ‘password of the day’ to sign in and make it part of your daily routine to change the password at the end of the school day. Many Web 2.0 tools stay logged in once you have signed in, so you might only have to do this once a day.

I’ll post more ideas in my next post but for now let’s hear your tips

(Photo Credit)