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The list of bad government initiatives seems to be endless. And yet, it amazes me to find things that actually catch me off guard. Here’s one: Apparently, a Missouri Bill has already been given first round approval and will likely be put into law.  Get this! The bill restricts teachers from connecting with their students on social networking sites!

Hang on while I climb up onto my soapbox …

WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?  Their claims are that some teachers have been identified as sexual predators and connections on social networking sites like Facebook would enable this negative interaction.

Let’s quickly review the salient points — and EACH of these warrants a deep discussion among educators, and some of them between parents and their kids;

  • Websites don’t enable predators … psychotic, deviant personalities do.
  • Taking away social media interaction won’t alleviate the problem.  The predators will simply adapt and interact with kids in other venues. (Question: Have you had a discussion about online predators with your kids?)
  • Taking away social media interaction will GREATLY detract from our educators’ potential of connecting with our kids where they socialize.  Like it or not, this is a reality and educators need to adapt to this societal shift.
  • Our kids are the world’s first “digital natives” — where they don’t know what it’s like to live in a world without computers, mp3 players, hi-def video, broadband and mobile connectivity, etc., etc., etc.  Because this generation is wired differently, they learn differently.  Successful educators need to quickly learn and incorporate these technologies into their classroom activities and their modes of communication.

If you’d like a fabulous example of how an educator can do this, check out Michigan’s 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year, Matinga Ragatz.  Her website and teaching tools include such things as;

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Photo uploading/sharing
  • Online calendars
  • An online forum that includes; Announcements, About Your Teacher, Parent’s Corner, Online Textbook, Study Central, Quizzes, Films, Discussion Board, Online Communication, My Grades, Student Blogs
  • And, my favorite, a “hybrid classroom” built on top of the Ning.com Social Network platform.  No it’s not Facebook, but it’s the same functionality.

I’m privileged to have met Matinga (she teaches in my step-son’s school) and I told her how proud I was to have someone who “gets it” right here in my town.

Note: If you live in Missouri, take a good hard look at what Matinga is doing … it may be a long time before your kids will experience this type of rich learning.

OK, back to work. I’m off my soap box.

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