For my course one final project, I have decided to help students develop a Personal Learning Network for our 6th grade Social Studies class. For many students, this is the first formal academic PLN that they have either implemented or used with any regular frequency.
Similar to the Coetail Course One agenda, I have chosen Google Reader as the application for this project. After preliminary instruction on basic blog validity, usefulness and other methods of determining worthwhile blogs I have the students begin to choose blogs on RSS feeds centered around our year long agenda of Social, Economic and Political factors of a civilization being studied. In 6th grade Social Studies we study Ancient Civilizations, it can be difficult to find timely blogs dealing with ancient material, so I have added a addendum assignment that allows students to accumulate information from the current geographic area of the ancient civilization we are studying.
Students are instructed to analyze blogs and select a varied and diverse number that represent different ideas and ideologies about the social, economic and political issues surrounding the geographic area under current study.
Students are required to read thoughtfully, respond for clarification or correspondence with multiple blog feeds and then compare, synthesize and evaluate the information and its impact on either social, economic or political issues. Students have latitude in choosing the main focus of their RSS feeds, since the idea is to have them develop interesting, relevant and life long learning networks.
As the unit winds down, students compile and then present their findings, with the idea being that meaningful and constructive dialogue will emerge based on similar and opposing opinions taken from varying posts.
It is hoped that after several units of practice that the students realize the value of cultivating a PLN as a viable alternative to mainstream media while developing their ability to decipher valuable and pertinent information and then having the ability to constructively and effectively debate these findings with their peers.