I spoke very briefly about the Student Blogging Challenge at a Teachmeet Melbourne Event last night.
I have been working with teachers and students for many years around the area of blogging. I learned over the years that blogging is often not successful if the blogger, be that a teacher or a student is not aware of ways to connect their blog to an audience. The Student Blogging Challenge provides one way of doing that and has multiple other benefits as well. In a nutshell, the challenge goes like this :
- Students from around the world register to be involved (approx 2,500 last year)
- Mentors register to guide, encourage and comment
- the wonderful Sue matches students to mentors (see this post)
- Ten weeks of suggested tasks are issued (beginning March 6). These tasks provide stimulus for writing as well as embed cybersafe and digital citizenship skills. At our school, we review the task and select what we think is appropriate and achievable for our students.
- Posts are written by students
- Mentors visit student blogs and provide suitable comments to encourage and extend the students experience.
- Students are encouraged to connect with other students – create their own networks by commenting and leaving links to their blogs. List of student blogs
This will be the fifth year I have guided students through the challenge at my school and mentored other students from around the world. Not surprisingly, I have learned a lot along the way:
- Not all students will complete all tasks and that is fine
- Some students who receive comments will not respond
- Commenting is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught (See Langwitches ideas)
- Students (and teachers) are very motivated by watching flag counters grow
- The structure of the challenge can be adapted to suit your classroom timetable.
- The learning a student takes is well beyond the mechanics of blogging, beyond the technicalities. They are experiencing a network of learners beyond their school, a new way of interacting online in an academic space.
- A comment from a mentor – a person from beyond the child’s usual network is extremely powerful and motivating.
Mention must be made of Sue Wyatt (@tasteach) for all her work in managing this amazing opportunity and thanks given!
So, do you want to make a small difference in the life of student ? A small investment in time, a simple piece of encouragement is all it takes. Let Sue know by commenting on this post Mentors needed.