News and Tribune

Clark County

October 21, 2008

Silver Creek students are surfing for an education

Networking site aims to enhance curriculum for SCHS juniors

SELLERSBURG — Take the average teenager’s interest in playing on social networking sites, add some classroom lessons to it and you get the pioneer form of teaching Paul Hankins is attempting.

His first assignment this fall for his 11th-grade English class at Silver Creek High School was for each student to set up his or her profile on his Ning network,, which is dedicated to reading and writing.

“It kind of caught me off guard,” 17-year-old Aaron Beck said of the assignment. “But it’s a good change.”

Hankins said this gives students a safe way to utilize a social networking site online, while picking up a few lessons, too.

He talked about a heated discussion on the site’s forums, where students were debating whether or not marching band is a sport. He said students responded with multiple paragraphs, citing resources backing up their respective positions. Hankins said it looked more like English essays.

“We actually tricked them into writing,” he said.

Also on the site, students can access class notes in case they missed a day or need a refresher after a long weekend. It also serves as a way to post writings for feedback from the teacher and classmates and a place where students can ask questions about class outside of school.

“I’m kind of addicted to it,” Zac Steward, 17, said. “At home, it’s kind of hard to express how I feel. Here, I can openly express how I feel ... it’s simple to use and it’s a way to get whatever is on your chest off your chest.”

The feedback process is what many of those on the site enjoy.

“You don’t say [to your classmates], ‘Hey, how about we go to this place and talk about my poem?’” Kalia Pinkston, 16, said. “No, you don’t do that. So, this give us a chance to do that.”

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