I'm very interested to learn about the art of communication in science. It seems like one of the things that my 6th graders can work towards..even if their science isn't that advanced. Imagine my delight when my Twitter timeline held this jewel for me....from Scientific American's Blog Around the Clock a guest post by Michele Arduengo, Scientific Communications Specialist at Promega Corporation.
She wrote that she was " I’m curious to see how the web can facilitate the development of communities across communities, particularly to see if science communities can interact meaningfully with non-science communities."
That is exactly what I've been wanting to do with my 6th graders. I have been trying to connect and collaborate with other 6th grade teachers so that my students can develop ideas that both classrooms study. Maybe it would be a Skype chat or co-creating a wiki page about a lab or an experiment. And then taking that learning and turning it into something that all people can understand.
It really is a twofold process:
- Understanding what you know and what other people who as expert in that area can learn http://lmsblogs.org/together; and
- Communicating that to an audience of people who don't know much about your area of expertise.
To some extent we already do this in class when we have students write a letter to their grandparents to explain what they've been doing in science class. Wonderful letters come back in response. And it's also what you might see my students doing on our classroom blog.
Ms. Arduengo also raises the point of how social networks must not only do the work of supporting your work, but also of helping you critically evaluate your work. This has been a huge component of what working scientists do....critiquing each other's findings until they stand strong in what conclusions can be made.
It's the hardest part for 6th graders. They only want to ask friends and family to critique their writing in hopes of avoiding the hard, uncomfortable growing questions. I am concerned that the ability to personalize news pages, subscribe to particular news feeds or blogs, actually makes it easier for people to become more isolated. People connect with others across the world, but the only those who share the same interests or views. What a fair question for not only the real-world scientists that Ms. Arduengo is working with but for all teachers who are trying to ask how to incorporate social media and networks into their classrooms. There will be a surge of activity in this realm with the implementation of Common Core curriculum standards and the Next Generation Science Standards....all of which push the idea of connectedness and community.
I do believe these all wise issues to raise and consider. 1) What is the function of a community in giving support but also critique? 2) How do we construct lesson design so students learn how to build networks from a wide-ranging set of perspectives? 3) How do we teach students that they've insulated themselves with "yes" people so they don't limit their growth?