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.
This is so fantastic! Do you have any thoughts for an application like this in an elementary setting (say 4-5th)?ReplyDelete
Love your idea of blogger's cafe. I am the technology instructor at a K-8 charter school. I have told the Junior High students we are going to begin blogger's cafe about mid year - lunch on Mondays in the tech lab to blog.ReplyDelete
For now, I began having the second graders blog in tech class. We, too, are using Kidblogs They love it - especially leaving comments for one another. We would welcome any comments or writing buddies - see http://kidblog.org/earlychildhood2/
This is just such a great post because you are showing how it can be done in the upper grades. My 4th and 5th graders are absolutely into it, and most of our writing assignments have been on our blog where they know what I am checking for that week. I have also found like you that many of them are much more engaged in their writing and do it voluntarily from home. It is an amazing thing to really see them light up when they are asked to write!ReplyDelete
Students who are eager to take notes, who would have guessed? :) I noticed the same thing when I blogged with my students, they enjoyed what was otherwise a "boring" task because they weren't just doing it for themselves, they were doing it for others. When they are given that kind of responsibility to their peers they enjoy it.ReplyDelete
I love the idea of not-takers. I was at a NAIS conference where Alan November spoke about this. He talked about selecting 2-3 students as the note-takers who would be responsible for gathering the class information and then sharing it with the rest of the class. Blogging about it after is a great way to combine the two ideas.ReplyDelete
This is great, what age group are you doing this with? I started a blogging (and student PLN) project with my students this year too. I am pretty happy with the results so far and also have think the students are much more excited about class and what we are learning. I told them in the beginning of the year that I would end up bragging about them because of this project and it is proving to be true. I have two students lined up to speak about their PLN's for environmental class and how they are using them to bring real life examples of what we talk about into class via their blogs. The school paper is also talking about doing an environmental page and printing a few of their blogs in each issue. I am doing this with juniors and seniors...ReplyDelete
Here is a link to what I am doing if your interested: http://nativeclassroom.blogspot.com/2010/09/setting-up-student-plns.html
I too am blogging with my students on kidblog. We are loving it! I asked for some help with modeling commenting that worked great--I asked my fellow teachers to comment on two student posts each. We're using the format 1) ack. something said, 2) add something from your own life or experience and 3) end with a question that could keep the conversation going. My colleagues did a great job and now each student has an authentic (and correct) comment from which we'll begin commenting on one another's posts. These are sixth graders so the modeling is extremely important. Keep us posted on your Blogger's Cafe--I love to read what other's are doing.ReplyDelete
So glad that's been working out for you! I think it's a neat idea. If I was dealing with a primarily young group (I have lots of older, non-trad students) using blogs, etc is something I might try out, but it seems like most of my older students are afraid to even get NEAR a computer :(ReplyDelete
After reading about your thoughts for a blogger cafe last summer, I have set one up in my room as well. Mine is not "open" all the time, but it is very popular. (https://thoughtsfromschool.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/cafe-is-open/)ReplyDelete
I'm using edublogs with my 5th graders, but may go with kidblogs next year. My students are still working on writing posts that are interesting and that invite comments, but I have confidence that we will get there. We've connected with a few other classrooms and are on the road.
I look forward to keeping up with your experience as well.