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Thriving as a Networked Individual in K-12 Education -

According to Rainie and Wellman (2012), a "networked individual" is a person within a social operating system that allows that individual to create, cultivate, and utilize their social network for whatever desire they have in mind. Linda Evans is a great example of how a social network novice grew into earning an online doctoral degree and utilized web 2.0 tools to transform her life.

In 1995 at the age of 42 Linda Evans was a recent divorcee left to raise two teenage girls and an eight-year-old son. The divorcee left Linda, a formally married stay at home mom, in financial hard times with only an associates degree in sign language interpretation. Luckily for Linda, she met a guy through her church social group that worked in IT and engaged her in hours of online interactions that led to them getting married. In the process Linda grew to use the internet and social networking. She began to curate groups of individuals in her physical and social media world to help her make decisions about going back to school to get a bachelors, becoming a teacher and earning a masters to do so, then ultimately getting an Online PhD. Linda found value in web 2.0 in her personal life and figured out how to use it in all aspects of her world, including communicating with friends and family, making financial investments, and running support groups for individuals with chronic illnesses.

Although Linda had a great example, and many of us use web 2.0 tools in many of the same ways, some educators are very reluctant to utilize web 2.0 tools to enhance their instructional environment for student learning. I will share 4 ways one web 2.0 tool, edmodo helped me improve my students' math proficiency by more than 40 points greater than any other teacher in my school. Here are four ways edmodo helped me transform the way I taught:

Extended learning time

My last years as a K-12 teacher were in D.C. at a K-8 public school. The overwhelming majority of the students did not meet state performance expectations. Most had considerable grade level achievement gaps, such as 2-3 years below grade level, by time I got them as a middle school Math teacher. During my years teaching in Virginia, prior to moving to D.C., my mentor taught me a valuable lesson which was my students are my students and their problems are my problems. Its my responsibility to get them to learn what I'm responsible for teaching them. This school district improved upon that model by making 50% of teacher evaluations students' test scores. So my job was clearly tied to student performance and if I wanted to stay employed, I'd have to make sure my students were able to demonstrate what I they learned. There wasn't enough time in a day to meet the needs of the mathematical deficiencies of my students. So I had to improvise. I made my