The first problem I encountered was the blogging system my school used. I was not a fan after the first day and wrote a post about it. After a quick change to KidBlog.org, things from a posting format point of view have been much better. The interface is 1,000 times better and it just looks better across the board.
My worry about student opinion was quickly put to rest as many of the students said, "That was fun." after their turn at student blogging. They sit up on the stage and take notes on the class discussion and post them to a class blog. I'm not really sure what is really "fun" about taking notes, but by changing the perception of note-taking, the kids seem to enjoy it. They like the responsibility of taking the notes for students that are not in school. They also know that parents can check the class blog, so that adds a little pressure to them.Instead of feeling like notes are a chore, students are excited about their chance to sit on stage and take notes for the class. They have to listen carefully and work with their blogging partner to make sure that every important note is documented. Students are anxiously awaiting their turn to blog. Every start of class, "Is it my turn to blog yet?" or "Can I go again?". Wanting to take notes in a class is a first for me in my 10 years of education.
Parents have sent me positive feedback regard the class blog as well. They like being able to see what was covered in class from a student's point of view. The homework is always listed and all handouts are mentioned. Parents now have a chance to see what is actually happening in the classroom without "bugging" their students. It is a nice way for them to keep an eye on the class without being too intrusive. High School students want their space and the class blog is a great way to let parents in without crowding teens.
The Lit Circles have been moving smoothly. Kids are always excited to see what others are doing and they can't wait to share the comments made by others in their group to the class.One question we posted was on "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury. Here are some comments by our students,
The students have really enjoyed getting to know their new partners in learning. As a teacher, it has been exciting to see the students excited about short stories and talking about them outside of school. It is great to see the students find the entire process exciting from the start. There are still some students who are not jumping in with both feet, but they will in time. Their classmates are having too much fun and they will not want to be left out.
It is so great to see students take an interest in the material outside of the classroom. As a teacher, it is one of the major goals of education is to have kids thinking about the skills and ideas outside of the classroom. Student blogging has helped make this happen for my students. I have some students taking notes and reviewing their work more than they have in previous years. They are studying and collaborating without really realizing it. It is still early, but I'm starting to see the positive impact the Blogger's Cafe is having on students and I think it should be spread throughout the building and the district.
I'm really excited about the next few projects we have planned and will keep everyone in the loop as the details are finalized. Van Meter and Grosse Pointe have some good ideas in the works and I promise to share them as soon as they are ready.
Do you blog with your students? If so, how is it going for you? Leave a comment and we can chat.