My 5th graders started 2 blog posts last week … and another this week … that because of the 5th grade writing test and other time consumers they hadn’t had time to post. So we had a bit of time yesterday and more today … and before I knew it there were over 80 posts waiting for approval (from 26 bloggers). On top of that some of our blogging friends up in Saskatchewan, Canada, made close to 20 comments. So now that we’ve written and posted a bunch we have a change of pace and get to read others blogs and leave comments.
For those of you that don’t have your students blogging and are on the fence about getting started … this is ONE of the pieces that I’ve found makes blogging so valuable (other teachers that have your students blogging please leave your experiences in comments). Its not just one activity or one kind of writing. Students write their own posts on topics the teacher assigns based on any curriculum area you can think of … or creative writing (including poetry, tall tales … whatever you can imagine), or students just writing about anything they want. Then they receive comments to read … some from classmates and others from students and teachers from around the world. Then they want to read the blogs of their commenter (so they are reading more by choice) and they actually notice and discuss others writing savvy and pick up ideas and skills from them.
I mentioned not long ago that as motivated as my students have been that they would “hit the wall” and get tired of it. Besides our blogging we have been writing scripts for a video we are producing (about blogging BTW) and the aforementioned 3 days of the writing test. When I explained this afternoon that I was giving them time to get caught up on their blogs they jumped right in. When they were done they had a choice of doing several online game sites they love and I had 2 students come and explain that they were done with the 2 assigned posts, could they write a new one about our photo shoot last week. Its the gift that just keeps on giving.
Now if you read this blog much you are probably saying about now … “well yeah, but your kids all have their own laptop … no one has to wait a turn or wait until you go to the lab … they have constant access.”
That’s right, and that’s the point. My students have access and our computers aren’t collecting any dust. We aren’t moaning about lack of software to run, or outdated software, or whatever. Blogging is an activity that promotes and utilizes authentic audience, doing real work that has meaning and purpose, is archived and editable as students acquire skills and wish to make improvements … and is accessible to their families and friends wherever they live. And we haven’t even mentioned wikis, photo projects, podcasts, Skype, and all the other web 2.0 goodies that are also free or very low cost.
Learning is messy!
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