blogging about blogging



Blogging so far

Well, we’ve (my classes and I) had quite the foray into blogging.

First, the logistics of getting started were a semi-nightmare. It was quite the production teaching the kids simply how to log on, change their passwords and write a simple post or comment. The first time through everyone at least got to log in, if not post. But, it was really stressful for me running around to answer quetions. Then, the second time around several kids forgot their passwords (ummm kiddos…it’s only three days later!). So, it took a lot of time to wrangle them into getting new passwords through my account plus troubleshooting for everyone else who was trying to post. An added bump is that I have the kids assigned as contributors, so their posts and comments go through my account before they post. I like this feature already because I’ve had to delete some mildly inappropriate posts, but the kids want the instant gratification of seeing their work post to the blog. So, it’s been a bit stressful trying to quickly skim and post for the kids while also troubleshooting.

Other observations …
Some students are very interested and seem to naturally “get” the idea of blogging. Several have put up substantial posts in response to the posts of the wildlife biologists we are working with. Some others are still operating on the one or two sentence post, but I am letting it go through this week. To help scaffold I write ideas for posts on the board in the computer lab and next week we are going to take stock of our class blogs and discuss what is good/what can be improved/what we want to post about. We’ll also look at some exemplars of student posts. I wanted to give the kids some time to get used to blogging and develop skills on their own before I did too much with expectations.

If you check out the blogs they reflect the personality of my sections very well. That excites me because I think it is a key to having our blog help us develop a sense of classroom community. My 8th period section has struggled with relating to the postings by our scientist, but they have developed more of a “crosstalk” between themselves than any other section and have put up more personal posts. So far I am not worrying about the lack of continuity and scientific content in this section’s posts. They are my “alternative” (kids identified by the district as most at risk of dropping out) section, so the fact that they are putting themselves out there and wanting to interact with each other is more important to me than the science content. Like the other sections, starting next week we’ll try to get a little more into what “good” posts look like. But, I am sure what this section decides a “good post” is will be very different than what the other sections come up with. The fact that what a “good post” should be/look like can be determined by the participants is something I think will be very powerful for my students.

The last thing I’ll reflect on is the language kids are using in the posts. I have been very lax about the use of “proper English”. I am letting the lack of capitalization and the IM lingo slide, as well as post titles like “waz good”, “what up” or “yo”. I struggled with this, but when I went back to my goals and thought about it, I decided it is okay to let the language be. I figure it is part of us developing a community and a way for each student to have his/her post be unique. So, right now I am going to go with letting all the lingo, etc. slide, but have kids do better spell checking!

This seems like a big lump of things, but we’ve posted a few times and a lot has gone through my mind!
-ellen

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Comments

  1. * Jeremiah says:

    Ellen,
    It sounds like things have been amazing, stressful and in all you have captured the ‘messy’ process of doing anything innovative in education. I know that there is a HUGE debate on the whole ‘proper’ english bit. I think I tend to fall more with you—what is essential…and we can build into thinking about audience as we go forward. I think it will help everyone to know what the different groups view as good posts. Will you have anyone post those on the blogs themselves? This might help those visiting it know what type of group blog identity that particular class is looking to develop.
    Also, where are your scientists posting from? Have they committed to a long term posting…maybe a little sharing on this and how you were able to get scientists to be involved would help others learning….I am certainly interested!!
    Thanks for sharing…it is great to read!!!
    J:)

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  2. * Ellen says:

    I didn’t think about having the one of the kids post our agreements for what makes a good blog. I like it! I completely agree about it helping to guide our “readership”. We don’t have much of a readership besides ourselves yet, but the one parent I have told about it has already left her daughter a comment. So, that makes me hopeful that when others find out they will follow suit.

    The scientists working with us are both friends of mine. One is in Iowa and one in Wyoming, but both have their study areas in the Tetons in WY. They have committed to sharing the whole year with us. And, I have to say they have both already done way more than I would have ever expected them to do. Neither of them had ever blogged before, but they caught right on and have made it multimedia with pictures/audio/hyperlinks right from the start. I think it is giving both of them a good distraction from their dissertations!!!

    It is really fun for me to read the kids’ comments and questions since I know their personalities. It makes what they write come alive so much more. Some posts are so funny or so profound to me, yet I know they wouldn’t really speak as much to an outside reader. I am just now realizing this is another feature of the blog that makes it such a good classroom tool. Maybe the kids who participate get a deeper meaning/appreciation of what is being posted because they already have established relationships with the other blogging participants.

    -ellen

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  3. * Jeremiah says:

    After our conversation last night at our blogging meeting, I realized that you are having the exciting opportunity of exploring the ways in which you can make blogging real to students through connections with outside posts. I know that you had mentioned struggling with how to bring in the more science rich content into the conversations. You are not alone. I read a blog that had the author of a book posting with the kids. However, the questions asked were surface level….I sometimes bring my online thinking back to what is just good teaching….what would you do in a regular class discussion if the conversation was all surface level? How would you dig below the surface? It doesn’t always work to bring the techniques to online…but this might be a good place to start.
    Just a thought……
    BTW- I think I might start commenting on your kids posts even though I am not in the science field…..it is just great to see them at work!!
    J:)

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  4. * Ellen says:

    My kids would love to have you comment or post! This Friday I did not schedule any computer lab time for my kids to blog. I could not believe how upset my classes were! My accelerated kids were so upset I finally gave in. Luckily we had an 80 mintute day and the lab was free!

    Thanks for the ideas. I agree about finding ways for them to dig deeper. We kind of started down that path on Friday. I talked with the kids about self-regulated learning. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because of 525. Anyway, I addressed it with the kids because I think it will give us some good ways to frame our thinking about the blog and how we want to continue as a class. The 4th period class did their Friday posts on learning. I really enjoyed reading them. If you check it out, be advised we are in the midst of choosing a new class pet.

    We were planning on getting some turtles and made a whole turtle habitat, but then found out it is illegal to have them in NYS public school classrooms. It was a bitter blow to the kids! Now the debate is on over which new pet we should choose.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago


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