Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Candy Carter
I'm an AP Language and Comp teacher at McQueen HS in Reno, NV. My students lead very busy lives: they're in sports, band, choir, journalism, debate...and on and on. They also do not necessarily live close to one another. In past years, I had had nonfiction book groups in which students chose books from a list and completed projects and presentations on their reading. Over the years, it seems to have become increasingly difficult to find time for them to confer, and the presentations in class took too long. I needed to come up with a way for them to share their ideas in a different way, and I needed to have a way to hold them accountable for their work. I also was aware of the increasing importance of social networking sites in my students' lives.
I had been introduced to Tapped In at a teacher workshop two or three years ago but had never made the time to really explore it. I was also a bit concerned that some their parents would object to them being online so I wanted to come up with an anonymous way for them to participate so that parents would not worry that their children's names were "out there" online. I hit on the idea of using Class ID numbers (which my students already use for peer reviews to ensure writers' anonymity). I was able to get all three of my classes into the system. I set up a calendar so groups could discuss online without bumping into other groups.
Overall, this turned out to be a successful way for kids to share ideas about books. They enjoyed the novelty and talked about their reading in kid-speak, not just so they could impress their English teacher. Except for some technical snags (some kids are not as computer-savvy as others; they also needed to have Java on their computers, which turned out to be a problem for a few of them), this was relatively easy to monitor and manage. I loved reading what they said online--very authentic.