I am thinking Kidblog.com is working. Currently, I do not have high expectations as far as writing skills are concerned. I did not have the students write rough drafts. I wanted them to write and post quickly. Their peers did comment on the need for remediation in some areas, but this is not the forum I am using to evaluate writing skills. (It will be later.) For now, I am using it as one way to discuss literature, and the comments have been good. They do have room for improvement, but without any modeling, the kids have done a good job.
Of course, I do have some students who are extremely anxious about sharing their thoughts with others. In talking with the parents I have learned this is not shyness. It is anxiety. For now, I have allowed theses two kids to write their responses on notebook paper. I hope to have them give me an alias. As long as I know it, I can give them credit for commenting on other’s blogs.
As all of our computers are tied up with testing for the next two weeks, I will have the students complete one blog on their own. By the end of the nine weeks, they will pick one response to revise and I will use a rubric I developed to evaluate their writing skills.
I have a good feeling about this.
Students’ Apple iMac G5 computers at Faculty of Informatics (Photo credit: Wikipedia) What I wish we had at school.
English: Students working in the Statistics Machine Room of the London School of Economics in 1964. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) What we currently have.
I slept on my dilemma: to have students share laptops, or to have students write on paper. I decided to let the classes share. It worked out well. The students were able to help one another create their blogs. Of course, they have to finish the work for homework, and I gave them two days to complete the assignment.
Interestingly, I had students complete a survey that asked them if they would be completing the blog at home or the public library. Out of 150 students, only three have said they would need the public library. Our students have the resources at home that we cannot provide at school. This is good news! As for the three without computers or Internet access, I can work with them at school. I can find one computer during their lunch period or study hall.
I wondered if blogging would work, but I already had one student ask if she could write more posts than the required ones! Since I am trying to avoid sarcasm, I refrained from saying, “No! There will be no extra writing and no fun!”
Another teacher is trying the same blogging site and we are collaborating on what is working and what needs improvement. I will keep you posted on what we learn. If you have any experiences, ideas, or questions, I would love to hear from you. Thanks!
Students of Saint Mary’s Hall (Photo credit: Robert of Fairfax)
I always begin lesson planning on Thursday, so I can stay focused on my goals. I have been planning to try Kidblog.org to have my students use the tools of the 21st century to analyze and write about literature. The blog also allows them to respond to other student’s opinions also; however, they cannot merely say, “I concur.” I expect students to support their opinions with facts from the reading selection. It’s Sunday and I am ready to go…
Except I checked the English department’s laptops and we are down to 21. Five of my six classes have more than 21 students. I am left with the dilemma: how do I have students create a blog when they don’t have a computer?
I think I will go back to the 20th century and have them write on notebook paper, then share their analysis with a partner who will write a response. I can cover the same standards in the curriculum. I have reserved the good computer lab for the first open day, Jan. 6, so I can introduce the blog then. But, it is late. Perhaps I will have a different idea in the morning.