Saturday, January 22, 2011
An explosion of blogs
Recently, however, there has been an explosion of blogging at school. All our Grade 4 and 5 students on both campuses have their own blogs (some using Blogger, some using Posterous). In addition for our last unit of inquiry in Grade 3, all the students have been introduced to our Grade 3 Poetry and Song blog. Each week one of the Grade 3 teachers takes it in turn to post prompts for the students and to moderate their comments. We introduced the students to commenting on blog posts by having them first write a post on a post-it note, and then copy it onto the blog as a comment. We talked to them about writing appropriate comments, that they should write in their best English and that they should only add their first name to their comments. Since then, individual students have started to add posts to the Poetry and Song blog themselves as a result of the various activities we introduced around skyping the poet Kenn Nesbitt. Some students blogged before the call with the questions we wanted to ask him, others blogged after the call with the answers. Some worked on turning photos of the call into Animoto movies which they then posted, others worked on iMovie and sent their movies to YouTube and I showed them how they could embed these into the blog. I would say that some of our Grade 3 students are real "blog experts" now!
Last week our Grade 1 teachers expressed an interest in starting their own class blogs too. They are starting a 12 week unit about narrative writing and wanted a place to publish their artwork about characters and settings. We talked about the fact that it was also possible to photocopy the writing the students had done and save it as PDFs which could also be published. When I showed them some of the ways their students could make online books they got really excited. Currently I'm thinking of using Combine PDFs to put the work together and then using Issuu - though I'm up to other suggestions if anyone has better ideas. So at the end of last week I sat down with 2 of the Grade 1 teachers and we set about designing their class writing blog - the other 3 classes I'll have to get to next week.
Finally last week I was approached by one of our Grade 4 teachers. He was excited to see what the Grade 1s were doing and wanted a blog or a wiki for his class too so that students could publish their writing for everyone in the class and at home to see. I'm not exactly sure what he wants, but I've made an appointment to see him on Monday to find out more.
Up to now, I've always maintained a student website for the 2 campuses I work at. This has pages set up for each class for each unit of inquiry. It's a place to publish student work and a place for providing links to good resources that students can use in their inquiries. Now I'm thinking that next year I'll probably be able to slim it down quite a lot if each class has its own blog and is publishing the work the students are doing. I like the fact that I can "hand over" this to the teachers - that they will be able to run their class web pages themselves as blogs and that they will have more control over what these pages look like and how the students use them.
We have come a long way in technology in the past 18 months, both the teachers and the students, and this week I'm so excited to see the explosion of blogging.
Photo Credit: BOOM by Fabian Gismondi