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Friday, August 17, 2012

Rules of Engagement

Well, this was puppy sitting week for me.  Somehow, I ended up with a 9 week old puppy, which has to be taught EVERYTHING.  My husband could not stress enough how important it is to “train him right.”  Sort of like what my principal used to say at the beginning of the year, “your first week of school sets the tone for the year.”  People had all sorts of advice for beginning teachers – “don’t smile until October” was one I remembered.  Those are the teachers that are all smiles on back to school night and parents can’t figure out why their child says they are mean!  But I digress…
Starting off Right!
I know a number of teachers that are planning on using online discussion platforms this year to get their kids talking and writing.  There are lots of platforms available, from the very simple Todaysmeet, Edistorm, and Edmodo, to the platforms that lend themselves to higher order thinking like Collaborize Classroom and the SCAN tool at TregoED.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to “train them right.”  Good digital citizenship does not just happen!

Practice Makes Perfect
Do you want your students to start practicing right off the bat?  There are a number of great icebreaker topics found in the Collaborize Classroom library.  Simply register at Collaborize Classroom and search for icebreakers in the Topic Library.  There are lots to choose from, including some with an Olympic theme.  TregoED has also added two new icebreaker lessons to their library.  Just register and go to your dashboard to set up your private classroom discussion. 
Get them “trained right”
I like to start by telling my students that I am so excited that the school is trusting us (both me and them) to use this great technology.  I make it clear that I know they are ready for it and remind them that the discussion they are going to have is a classroom discussion.  Just like any other discussions we have in class, we stay on topic and take it seriously.  One major difference to keep in mind is that the discussion, like any online discussion, can become permanent and can often be shared.

Digital Citizenship Rules of Engagement
Fortunately, you do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to finding online resources for digital conversations.  There are often good resources supplied by the online tool that you are using.   Catlin Tucker, an English Teacher in CA, has developed and shared a great document called the “Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication.”  As well as, a number of other student success resources to go with the Collaborize Classroom site.  Likewise, TregoED provides great resources to help teachers get started and student resources that include “Scan Discussion Guidelines,”  and a student “Jumpstart” page.
Now, back to that puppy…..

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