I was told once that in the typical social studies classroom, 85% of the conversation is teacher to student, 10% student to teacher and 5% student to student. (And . . . no, I can’t remember the source so I suppose you can adjust the numbers as you see fit.)
But even if the numbers aren’t exactly correct, the point remains.
We talk too much. The kids don’t talk enough. And we certainly don’t let the kids talk enough with other kids.
When the brain spends time reviewing, repeating, experimenting and talking with other brains, good things happen. We need to let the brains of our students spend more time with other brains.
The problem, of course, is to find ways to help kids structure their conversation around the history topics that you are attempting to teach.
So I like what I see over at MyHistoryNetwork. The site is designed to give social studies students the opportunity to talk with one another.
Where high school history students from around the world come together and share, co-operate, challenge, assist and inspire each other.
The site is new and so David Hilton, the site’s creator, is working to generate a group of students and teachers large enough for quality conversations. But I like what I see. Moderated forums for kids, ability to upload content, personalized pages, place just for teachers and specific groups.
It really looks like a useful place to encourage high-levels of conversation to take place about specific content. You could assign your students to talk with others as part of a larger project or simply encourage the conversations by awarding extra credit. The possibilities seem pretty endless.
One of the biggest problems the site will probably experience is that it is hosted at the Ning network. And because many school filtering systems view Ning as a social networking site, it may be blocked at your school.
Of course, that’s the whole point . . . having kids talk with other kids in a structured, content-based way. I could argue that blocking MyHistoryNetwork because it’s a social network is just another way of saying that we don’t want kids to learn in effective ways.
That would seem petty and inappropriate. So I won’t.
(But I’m still thinking it.)