Since I started working on my proposal for the French Award, I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to create blogs for my students that are protected--I know a number of teachers ask for outside comments on their students' blogs... I'm not there yet. I wanted to create self-contained community that included students from all four of my classes. The would be able to interact with each other and create a community of readers with common goals.
So I looked at Edublogs, Blogger, WikiSpaces, Wetpaint and PBworks and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.
And then I checked one of my Nings and rediscovered that there are blogs built into this system. What this means is that I may not use Edmodo next year, which makes me sad. But in one interface, I have discussion boards, blogs, mail, a calendar, video (if my district will allow streaming) and photos. And it's organized in such a way that finding material will be a whole lot easier than before.
So I created a Ning called Reading Room 211 and have been playing with it. I mentioned it to my 4th hour students and they're a little miffed that they had me this year because next year sounds like more fun. One student even commented that he's jealous of his brother because his brother will probably get to do all the fun movie-making next year.
I wanted to get through the semester and use only one website, but I think I'm going to maintain a wiki and leave it open to the public. I've had problems with students downloading copies of assignments from Edmodo (I'll post the same PDF on Edmodo and on our wiki and it can only be opened from the wiki--no idea why). I'll keep a copy of the syllabus, assignments, and agendas there so they are viewable anytime by parents. Both the wiki and the ning will have the same title, so they should be fairly easy for my digital natives (who are really scared of new technology and being wrong) to remember.
Things I should consider about using a ning next year? Any thought is appreciated. I'm working on rules and guidelines now.