Blogging with Students – the beginning

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Posted by Heather Davis | Posted in Uncategorized, WHAT I AM LEARNING | Posted on November 24, 2011

Ok, I am a control freak….I think we would find it hard not say that about most teachers….we tend to be a bit controlling.  Well, what else do you expect when our whole professional lives revolve around making sure that children learn, eat well, wash their hands properly, cover their mouths when they cough, speak and write English correctly, treat others well, follow instructions and have fun.  You have to be a bit controlling to keep all of those balls juggling in the air times 25 students or however many you have for a year.  This year I have 25 and being me I wanted to try something new with the students because it isn’t good for the teacher (me) to get bored.  I wanted to get involved with my students blogging.

The fact that I am a semi blogger (Ok I am a blogger who only writes some of the time), meant I wanted to introduce this form of expression to my students.  I have read everything I can about blogging with students and there are tremendous resources out there.  Everything pointed to growth in writing ability.  I need that with a class of students who have English as a second or third language.  So I decided to take the plunge. But remember, I live in China and with comes the inevitable problems with the Great Firewall of China.  I love Edublogs and the tremendous professional development and support they have on this platform was the reason why I chose it for this blog.  It was also open in China.  That was then and this is now.  So Edublogs was no longer a viable option for my students.

I moved on to check out Kidblog.org, David Warlick’s site and Weebly.  After a lot of thought I decided to use Weebly as it was also the platform for our class blog Year 4A Talks.  It offers a lot of different features that I figured the students would like and it has turned out that I was rich in that assessment.

So again back to this control thing – I decided that while I wanted my kids to blog I needed to control it at least for a while to see what happened and in order for that to happen I could only handle a very small number.  I chose three of my students initially and then quickly added a fourth student and am even thinking of adding a fifth as they are starting to support each other and I am not needed so much for the creation process.

I set up the blogs and they are attached to our class blog with me as the administrator though they each have the right to moderate the comments that are coming into their blogs.  Students are much harder on each other than the teachers many time.  It is a fact.  Originally I assigned a task every couple of nights for them to get the idea of how it worked but soon there were complaints that they wanted to do more.  The tasks were getting rather long and taking up more and more space on our class website so I decided to create a wiki.  (Note to self – write down the name of the wiki page you create when you expect students to access.)  So with the wiki finally up and running and the students having access to the tasks we seem to be doing well.  The interest remains high though they do get disappointed when no one comments on their blogs.  So that has become my job to a certain extent – I drum up business for them right now asking teachers and classes to write comments on the blog.

What have I learned so far????  That I have to stay up with the speed my children work at once I have got them hooked on an idea I think is great.  If I don’t move fast enough they will lose interest and all of the effort and the great idea will just disappear. Second, it is looking like their writing is beginning to improve now that there is a real audience reading their work. And third – I want to keep doing this and bringing more kids into the process.

Oh yes, I am also learning that I can let go a little bit without everything swinging wildly out of control but don’t expect miracles overnight.  Will write more about the how they are doing again shortly.  If you want to check it out for yourself please visit the following.

http://year4atalks.weebly.com – our class blog – I am the main author and the students comment though we just had our first student earn the right to be a guest blogger.

http://abisblog.weebly.com

http://emilyjblog.weebly.com

http://majasblog.weebly.com

http://leosschoolblog.weebly.com