Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Kids Say About Blogging

One of my professional goals is to regularly visit classrooms and iStock_000008508482XSmallcapture learning stories.  I love talking to students and teachers who are engaging with technology in meaningful ways.  One such story I captured a few months ago involved blogging in a grade 3 classroom.  Jens, the teacher for this class, contacted me via email to describe the journey he’s been on with his kids:

“I’m a grade 3 teacher and I have been blogging with my students since September. Each of my students has their own blog and even though we only get two 45 minute periods of Computers each week, over the last seven months I’ve experienced a number of ‘teachable moments’”, Jens Preshaw

You can follow his class blog, The Griffin, here.  He describes some of the value or benefits of students blogging:

“For the parents in our learning community it has created greater transparency in the classroom. They regularly visit their child’s blog and often leave very positive comments. The students feel so proud when they read a comment on their blog from their mom or dad. It’s also been very rewarding for me as their teacher.”, Jens Preshaw

Maya shares her experience with blogging in this clip (you can read her blog here).  She is pretty jazzed about getting comments from her family.  The cool thing about this is that family members can far more easily be involved in her learning and in providing regular feedback than they could be if her writing was only contained in the traditional paper journal.

Maya gets comments from mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa

Writing for a broader audience is a motivator for kids and adults alike.  I know for me, blogging, because it has a global reach, has helped me become a better writer and communicator.  There’s something about kids writing for people other than their teacher that takes writing to a new level.

“On the students blogs some grandparents have been leaving very thoughtful comments. Grandparents and other relatives rarely have an opportunity to observe or see what their grandchildren are doing in school. The student blogs also allows them to be a part of our classroom community. One of my students has aunts, uncles and cousins in Greece and they have been writing comments in Greek and another student in my class receives comments from her mom in Spanish.”, Jens Preshaw

I am impressed with the learning this is creating for kids.  Brendan is a great example of this.  I’ll let him tell you what he learned about the Earth through the research project he blogged about.  He’s quite articulate.  Notice how engaged he gets when sharing this with me.  You can also check out his blog here.

Brendan shares his learning about the Earth, among other things

In addition to his blog, this next student shows another project he’s been working on to create stories through cartoons.  He’s rather proud that his creation was highlighted on The Griffin.  I encourage you to watch the video clip to the end to hear his comment about writing with computers.  I think he may be a budding futurist…  You can visit his blog here.

Ben shows his cartoon story creation

There is a powerful impact on kids being connected to the global context.  No longer is their learning confined to the classroom, school, or their local community.

“As the teacher I've just started looking into connecting with other primary classes around the world who are also blogging. For the first time, I see the potential in being able to use a form of transformative learning in my classroom. By blogging with other classes from around the world it develops a greater global awareness in my students. On our class bog we have a widget that shows the number of visitors to our website and the flags of their countries. We have had over 1,500 unique visitors from 52 different countries. They get so excited when they see a new flag and want to know who is visiting us in that country.”, Jens Preshaw

For me, this story really emphasizes the importance of creating learning spaces that are not simply contained within walled gardens.  There are privacy requirements of course but they are not that difficult to navigate and Jens has done a great job in addressing this for his class and his student’s blogs.  There is value with this for kids to reach out to their families with their learning and families being able to stay informed and to contribute to their kid’s learning through feedback.  For parents, this approach can also address the common answer “nothing” to the question “what did you do at school today”!