Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blogger's Cafe In My Classroom?


This is my school. It's 80 years old and beautiful. I'm changing rooms this year and I'm finally moving into the room of my dreams. I have wanted this room since I started at Grosse Pointe South High School 8 years ago.  Here are a couple of shots of the room I took with my phone.

This is taken from the stage toward the front of my room.

This is the stage taken from the front of the room.

When I first saw the room, I was filled with all of the crazy things I would do with a stage in my room. The teacher who had the room decided to use the area for storage and filling cabinets. That's not how I would have used it, but it worked for that teacher. I have some other plans for the stage though.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted The Nerdy Teacher's Epic Romeo and Juliet Lesson Idea. The lesson results in three separate sections of Freshmen English classes putting on full production of Romeo and Juliet. The stage would be a great place for students to rehearse and work on blocking and things. It will be an epic endeavor, but something I think I can pull off with the support of my wonderful Department. Using a stage for a theatrical production is not an innovative idea, but there has to be other ways to use this space a daily basis that would helpful to all students.

One of my favorite parts of ISTE, besides the awesome people (You know who you are), is the Blogger's Cafe. It was such a great meeting place for everyone getting together to chat and charge their respective electronics. After I got back from ISTE, I took a look at the room empty for the first time. It seemed much larger than I had realized upon first inspection. I looked at the stage with new eyes after ISTE and realized the full potential of the space.

A well placed set of cushy chairs or a couch would be a comfortable place for a few students, no more than 3, to sit and blog/tweet the discussions happening in class. I want to create a Blogger's Cafe on the stage. What better way to have students engaged in the content in class. Here are some of the ideas being tossed around in my head.

  • Each student would be designated as a class blogger on specific days and would take notes on what we covered in class. 
  • At the end of the class, the students would post their work for other students and parents to see later. 
  • Non-blogging students can then go back and add any information that was left out or comment on the overall class. 
  • Points would be awarded for completing the blog post. 
  • Students that add information or comment on the post will be entered in a drawing to earn extra credit for the current marking period.
  • I like the idea of having 2-3 Bloggers at a time to allow for varied views of the class discussion. 
  • Students will be given a template of what a post should look like. 
  • I like the idea of offering students the chance to Vlog if they want. I won an awesome Flip Cam from @SimpleK12 at ISTE and this would be a great way to use this wonderful tool. 
  • Students that want to film their post can check out the camera or film it after school. 
  • I could get some Green Screen that students could film in front of so they could have some fun with the video at home. 
Those are just some of the ideas in my head at the moment. I like the idea of a Blogger's Cafe on the Stage because it will get students thinking about the content in the class. They will need to decide what is important and worth posting and what can be left out. They will have to focus their listening skills as they search for key words and phrases to post. There will be a real sense of ownership of the work when it gets posted. Also, students will want to check the post to see if there is anything left out to see if they can get  a shot at the extra credit. Parents will get a daily play by play of what is happened in class that day.

We do not have open WiFi in the building, so I cannot have students just bring in their own laptops to access the network. That would be awesome so they could save things on their own computer and mess with it at home. That is a project I will be tackling at another time. The Blogger's Cafe on the Stage is a chance to start to create a tech friendly environment in a classroom for other teachers and administrators to see. If I can show the success of the Blogger's Stage (Just decided on the new name), maybe  I can persuade other teachers to start blogging in the classroom.

I will keep you posted as things progress with the Blogger's Stage. I need to think of some decorating ideas for the stage. We have a group of Mothers dedicated to restoring parts of the school and I might ask them to take a look at the stage. In the picture, you can see that the frame of the stage goes up in the shape of an arch but is covered by the lowered ceiling. I'm pretty sure the new ceiling covers up the upper stage lighting. I have about 4 extra light switches that work turn something on and off. It would be great if the entire stage could be refurbished to it's original form. Wishful thinking I guess.

If you have any ideas about how to use this space, a better name for the space or  how you would run a similar idea in your class, please leave me a comment. I'm creating on the fly and I would love to share ideas with others. Drop me a comment. Thanks!

- @TheNerdyTeacher

*UPDATE* JULY 6

I want to thank everyone that has commented on this post. This is my most commented on post and it was just a random idea in my head. I guess it shows that you never know what is going to excite people when you write. Your ideas have inspired me to continue to evaluate the concept of a Blogger's Cafe in class. I'm leaning more towards making it a class expectation instead of a point based system, but still haven't decided.

I have a Math teacher and possibly a Science Teacher on board with having their students blog in their class. I couldn't be more thrilled. It's only been a week since ISTE and I have already made some minor steps in the right direction. Please keep up the comments and the support. I can't wait to hear from more of you as I continue to update this project.

Take care to all of you and I hope you are enjoying the summer.