First Blogs

This week my students have completed their first blog comments and also posted their first blog entry. Several students have created good, thoughtful comments and posts. Others, despite some modeling and guidelines, created simple statements like "Nice Blog." Yesterday it might have sunk in more what was a good post and comment was when I used one of their own as a good example of a blog post and then we created a comment together in class. You can see it here at The Shootaround where the Detroit Piston, Rasheed Wallace's suspension for too many technicals was discussed.

If you search on gaggle.net's blogs for Negaunee Middle School, you can see several other of my students first blogging attempts. This link might also work. NMS Gaggle.net Blogs

I have started by having them blog about their own topics rather than responding to my own prompts. Hopefully this allows most of them the opportunity to express themselves freely in a positive manner. For some, though, this is too open I fear, and they will not be able to get going. Break is starting after today so hopefully during the next 8 days I can come up with something to get these others more engaged in writing in blogs. Let me know if you have any ideas/suggestions.


To Blog or Not Debate

Will Richardson has started an interesting conversation, To Blog or Not to Blog, which has inspired others. I've found two, by Bud Hunt and Barbara Ganley, particularly interesting.

Bud discusses how often when we write we talk about the positive examples and neglect or downplay the things that do not work out well. I think this is a very valid point, especially by those of us who tend to get excited and like to tell others about the good, we sometimes forget to tell about the struggle it took us to get to the good. I find it this way even in general teaching to children. The science and history we talk about our normally the successes. Even though I have a told students quotes about how often famous people have failed before gaining success, we rarely discuss it during normal discussion. This could be a whole entry in itself but my main understanding of what Bud is saying and what I've seen happen is that there are times when blogging won't work out for some students and for some teachers/classes as a whole.

Barbara's piece hits the topic on even broader terms, discussing how we need to engage students in a learning community that allows them to try various forms of learning and media styles. Sure, some students will not do well blogging, just as some don't do well writing an essay but that doesn't mean we give up teaching the essay or blogging. However, we must also teach other ways of learning/interacting with information and conveying that information-digital storytelling, music, powerpoints, wikis, picture books, etc.

As our class gets more involved in digital learning over the next couple weeks and we prepare to write our own blogs, I'll try to chronicle both the successes and failures as Bud suggests and also the ways I try to encourage students in using multiple methods of learning and sharing.


Getting Started

I've been mulling over getting into blogging and some other technologies with my students since last year. Unfortunately we started the school year off with no real access to the computer lab and so my interest slowly fizzled.

Thankfully, just over a week ago, I went to the MACUL conference here in Michigan with some high school teachers. This got me fired up about getting back into exploring tech with my students. Will Richardson, of Weblogg-Ed fame, especially got me excited by his presentation on Podcasting, Vodcasting, and Screencasting. Since then I've been digesting as much as possible from several other educators' blogging and podcasting efforts. I'll try to link to them soon when I start messing with this template. I have been particularly looking at what Clarence Fisher is doing. He has his own site plus several others for his classes/students which you can view easily with his superglu site.

Starting the second half there's one hour a day the cpu lab is free--hopefully I can get the students immersed during that time in reading blogs by others for a few days and then get them going successfully on their own. Talking about it with them has got them more excited than I've seen them in a while. Many are discussing what they will want to blog about. We've all got cabin fever here in Negaunee and the two feet of snow we got last week hasn't helped their mental health. Hopefully the excitement and interest in blogging will get us through the next few weeks before spring break and then we can maintain it afterwards for the end of the year.

I am hoping to use blogs in a couple ways if given the time. One is as a means of discussing and reflecting on literature--reflective blogs. I will do this with a high school class of Andy's and Sara's who took me along with them on this conference. The other will be more of a free form blog where students share things they feel they are experts on. This is the area where they are most excited. Some of them are deep into WWII history and want to blog about that while others are interested in certain music groups, tv shows, video games, or sports. Hopefully I can find a way with these where they can maintain this excitement in a safe environment but still get involved in conversations with others, which to me is the most exciting part of blogs--getting into the social aspect of learning and teaching.

Tune in for more as we start to plug in.