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”!

6 comments:

  1. Great post! I agree totally with the stories above! My Kindergarten class love how their learning journeys are shared with family and friends through our class blog. Parents (and grandparents etc) love that they can be involved in their children's education even if they cant come to classroom. The children often ask me to write a post about something that they want to share with their parents. Recently, our pet goldfish died and the children asked if I could post that on the blog. Many parents commented. The children go back again and again to that post, remembering and reflecting on Shiver's passing. http://bit.ly/IzUqu5

    Through the blog (and twitter), the children have begun to develop a class online learning network. The blog has been powerful as a collaborative writing engagement. Writing for an authentic purpose and audience is highly motivating. http://bit.ly/ysSiWd

    By this time in the year, many students are writing independently, sounding out the words they dont know how to spell. I've just started up a class kidblog so they can write their own posts. Because they have been so involved in the class blog, they get how blogs work and happily read and comment on each others post. http://kidblog.org/YISKC/

    In Kindergarten! I find it both inspiring and humbling!

    To conclude, blogging has played a key role in our inquiry based curriculum. I knew the class blog would be useful when I set it up but I didn't realise just how much it would support teaching and learning!

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    1. @Tasha - ah Kindergarten... I spent quite a bit of time in K classes this year. K's are awesome. Pretty cool that you're getting them involved with blogging so young. Thanks for sharing the links to your posts and their kid blogs. I enjoyed reading them. I'm curious how you might be assessing their involvement and their own posts on Kidblog.

      Thanks for sharing, Brian

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    2. Hi Brian!
      We assess the children's involvement both through their contributions to shared writing engagements through the class blog posts/ tweets and through their personal blog posts and comments on the kidblog. Posting and commenting on the kidblog is optional and spontaneous. Between the two experiences, one teacher initiated and led, the other student initiated and led, we get a pretty good inside into individual attitudes, understandings and skills.

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  2. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I am looking for 4-7th grade classes to connect with via blogging starting in fall, 2012. We are in Istanbul, Turkey and have been blogging for a number of years now, very successfully.

    aisha.ertugrul@tedistanbul.k12.tr

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