Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Blogging in the Literacy Rich Classroom - Workshop Feedback

Today I was fortunate to work with a very enthusiastic group of teachers and administrators. We explored a variety of applications for using blogs in a literacy rich classroom. We also took a minor segway into planning and guidelines for blogging. Below is our collective thinking on the topic. Feel free to comment on your own experiences with blogging in K-12 education. Many thanks to Victor for sharing his very extensive, well-planned ELA classroom blog (and his baby pictures!).

Our Collective Thinking About Blogging
  • Planning - Be proactive in planning on every aspect of your blog - including making sure building administration is aware and approves of your blogging project.
  • Differentiation/Classroom Management - Consider using “meme” to control the number of comments on any given post and to solicit higher level thinking around a topic by limiting the involvement in the discussion. You can schedule student groups, or invite students based on readiness and interest levels for differentiation. The term "Meme" refers to a unit of information which can propagate from one mind to another. As it relates to blogs - you can invite specific people (students) to respond to a posting.
  • Differentiation/Security - Control the timing and levels of publishing based on student readiness level and security policies within your school/district.
    •Student Assessment - Great way to show progress and improvement in student writing over time.
  • Planning - Be cautious with “meme” in that the people you are inviting to contribute want and can contribute. We thought you may not be able to control this – needs further research.
  • Planning - How spontaneous do you want the blog to be? Should students word process the posting prior to posting?
  • Curriculum - Use blogs as an instructional tool when teaching the writing process – getting ideas, writing a thesis statement, introductory sentences, supporting details, conclusion, etc. Have students submit samples in response to a prompt and have assess the submissions peer to peer assess.
  • Curriculum - Community project blog, each group uses the blog to collect information about what the have learned, continually adding to it as a way to collect notes. In the end they use the information on the blog to create a final project as a paper or presentation.
  • Planning - Decide what type of access you want or are able to provide. (e.g. do students have district email? If so consider inviting students to the blog. This will require a student email account and we suggest only doing this if your school/district has an implemented student safe email solution.
  • Classroom Management - require moderation so that teachers/blog creator will get an email notice and the blog comments/replies will not be published without them allow or delete for posting (consider the time for this task).
  • Classroom Management - Set clear guidelines and instructions for students and post right on the front of the blog.
  • Classroom Management - All blog postings should have students names in the post if you do NOT have them using “school safe & approved” email accounts.
  • Classroom/School Management - Guidelines from Byram blog (Victor’s demonstration) - How do I submit my comment?
    Student instructions: “You are to leave the name, website, and url text boxes blank. After you and your partner write a comment - sign it by typing both of your names (first names only) after your comment. Then you can submit it. Remember, I will not approve any comment that does not do this!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"The Blog", Take One!

No, a "Blog" (noun) is not the same as "The Blob" the American science-fiction film from 1958 depicting a giant amoeba-like alien that terrorizes the small community of Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Imagine a classroom where students eagerly await responses to their writing prompts, where they learn to write with skills that solicit responses from others, where they can become skilled, published writers. It can't be...say it ain't so?...oh my gosh....its...its...its...aghhhhh..its a BLOG!

Yes, a blog can be as mesmorizing for students in it's ability to capture their attention and curiosity as a good movie which is why it works. Teachers are discovering that blogs are an effective tool for capturing the attention, imagination and creativity of their students.
Bloggers (verb for those who blog) can be found everywhere on the web. There are political blogs, social blogs, knitting blogs, college blogs, dog and cat blogs, and yes K12, classroom blogs, and yes , even blog blogs.

The examples below demonstrate that placing as much emphasis on how we teach as well as what we teach makes blogs and blogging great additions to any literacy rich classroom.

Secret Life of Bees Study Guide

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Book Club or Summer Reading

Book Reviews

Learning & Reflection Forum