November Blogger's Cafe Update
I wanted to give everyone a little update on how the Blogger's Cafe was going.
Well, it is still going very well. I still have students that are excited about blogging and want it to be their turn every day. I have even let some students grab an extra laptop and blog because they have done such a good job in class. If it is a student's turn, but they are out sick, all arms are raised to replace them on the stage. It is just so exciting to see kids pumped to take notes and share them with the rest of the class.
My laptops provided by the school stink. Some of them literally take over ten minutes to load up at times. They are slow moving and their battery life is next to nothing since they are 5 years old or older. Some kids have lost work when the computer just shuts off for no reason. I know this happens to many of us from time to time, but in a 48 minute class, these things can be brutal. I need to keep searching for grant money and begging the school board for cash to give me the tools necessary to really engage my students fully in the digital learning world. I know, there are schools and teachers that do not have a single computer and I should not complain. I'm lucky to have what I have, but it is not wrong to want to provide more for my students. If you know of someone who is handing out grants, please direct them my way. I've got some great ideas to share with them.
I had a parent express a concern that their child, who struggles with typing and dyslexia, should be possibly excused from blogging because they could be embarrassed by their typing mistakes when seen by peers. I would never want to place a student in a position where they could be embarrassed, but asking a student to take notes twice a month is not a crazy expectation as far as I'm concerned. Less writing will not make the student a better writer. All blog posts can be typed in MS Word first and edited later. I understand the want to protect kids from embarrassment, but it is also important to have kids work on things that are tough so they can improve. As the semester has progressed, I've seen improvement in student writing on the blogs. Nothing huge, but little things that show they are adjusting and learning. As a teacher, that is huge. I guess that should go in the Good section. Oh well. ;-)
Things are going very well. I like what I'm seeing from the kids and would love to expand the number of bloggers. An ultimate goal would be to have all of the students take notes and share them online in one space. A parent donated a couple of comfy chairs for the Blogfer's Cafe space and the students like them very much. I've commissioned three school artists to crest some paitning to hang on the walls. I'm excited about their ideas and I hope to have those by second semester.
That's it for now, stay tuned for another update in December.
I received money from ING's Unsung Hero Award. It's $2,000 which won't buy you a lot, but maybe a few classroom netbooks could make a big difference. We also just applied for Pepsi Refresh, lot's of money to give out but also lot's of voting and support involved. Love what you are doing!
Great to read of your new enterprise! I've started one in our primary school - here's a link to my blog post - http://markherring.blogspot.com/2010/10/student-bloggers.htmlReplyDelete
We've got about 12 dedicated bloggers coming for two lunchtimes a week. I wish I had started it earlier in the year, to be honest. It has a real buzz about it and we're working on developing the content a little more...like A LOT! haha. They are only 10 and still wigging out about changing their templates.
I agree about that the more a student blogs, the better their spelling will get. Most blogs have a spelling function anyway. I know blogger does. I think it'll just take time for the parent to come around. In the meantime you could set up a checking system (another helpful student?) before they published.
Watching your blog with interest!
The kid whose mom doesn't want him to blog, can he use a dictation tool? There are some that are free (naturalreaders.com & Word has an OK one built in, it just takes time to train it) and Dragon is free on ipod/iphone, maybe he could record on there and email the text then copy paste. Also, if you put in his IEP that he will need that as "least restricted" most districts will pay for it as assistive technology, or maybe even the microphone if no the program. Just some thoughts.
Glad this project is doing well!
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