Student Blogging Challenge Take 3

Last year, approximately 40 of our senior primary students voluntarily accepted to take part in the Student Blogging Challenge.  As with any venture, there were mixed reactions.  Not all completed the tasks, but they all learned something.   There were a few highlights where blogging  ‘clicked’ with some as a medium of choice and these students have gone on to be regular bloggers (even on their holidays).   On the whole, it was wonderful.

The 2013 Student Blogging challenge is about to begin and I am happy to say the baton is being passed on beautifully.  I have asked our ‘experienced’ blogger to mentor their new classmates and it has been so wonderful to watch the skills being passed on and enthusiasm transmitted.  Here, a comment from one of our new mentors commenting on the blog of  his younger classmate.    I love the  mixture of warm and cool feedback and caring style from this Year 6 boy!

I believe the success of this program can be attributed to a few things:

  • a culture of blogging – these students have seen blogging modelled by their teachers through class blogging for a few years now
  • gradual build up of skills – our students began their personal blogging with KidBlogs – simple, no frills blogs.
  • support from each other – teaching and modelling appropriate academic commenting skills is a vital aspect of blogging.  Without the interaction with readers that comments provide, blogging can tend to feel dull.   Our staff and students regularly support each other with comments.  Staff also use Twitter to broadcast blogs for further publicity.
  • blogging being embedded within classroom practice.  Staff provide regular opportunities for blog posts to be part of their writing activities, often using them to elicit responses and broaden their learning from experts.

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, says ‘Student blogging is not a project, but a process. We are continuously striving to refine, improve and re-evaluate’.  As Silvia says, these students are learning to write in digital spaces- an important skill in my opinion.

Should the [Publish] button be replaced by [Share] ?

Trying to catch up with the ETMOOC recordings and listening in on Dean Shareski’s session on Sharing=Accountability.   Much is resonating with me and I am seeing connections to my experience.  I think over the past few years I have accepted or found a need and interest in sharing what I learn.

Dean made a point about some re-thinking about the concept of publishing.  

“The [Publish] button should be replaced by [Share]”.  

 I have had a discussion recently about publishing student work on their blogs. Should we publish only ‘perfect, final drafts’ error free or should we allow their first efforts to be seen?  It became obvious to me – that we need to re-define [Publishing] and Dean’s [Share] option sits well.

Previously when we published it was our finished product, the result of a writing and editing process.  This was necessary and preferred as the printed results were set in stone (all-be-it ink in paper) .  Web 2 has altered the way we can go through the editing process, we can now [share] our unfinished thoughts, elicit feedback and constantly edit and re-edit.  

Clicking [Publish] does not mean we are finished working, finished thinking but simply exposing our process. Whereas, publishing, once referred to the final process in an exhaustive editing process.  

This brings me back to my previous post about why people shy away from blogging.  Our expectation that what we publish is perfect.  There is a concern amongst teachers of young students that we are weakening the conventions if we allow less than perfect writing to be published, that we are modelling poorly and I can understand that, but I feel that  the benefits of exposing our first attempts and our process  outweigh this risk.   Some re-thinking about how we view what we read on-line, how we evaluate it and what we expect of it may be required.  What do you think?

No contest – a good week of kid-blogging

Scenario 1

The scene : First week back at school in an Australian classroom after a long summer break.  Class of 10/11 year olds.  Students asked to get out their diaries and write about their holidays.  They write, then perhaps the teacher reads it and responds with an encouraging comment and maybe a sticker.    The book returns to the child’s desk.  The writing is never read again.

Scenario 2

comments4kidsThe scene : First week back at school in an Australian classroom after a long summer break.  Class of 10/11 year olds.  Students asked to write a blog post highlighting how they think their holiday may be different to those of children in other parts of the world.  The posts are published and the teacher sends out one Tweet using the #comments4kids hashtag.   The students receive instant feedback – within 1 hour there are lovely comments from Alabama – a teacher who comments and promises to show his students when they are at  school the next day (assuming the snow does not close the school)    In the following days, more comments come in from teachers and  students in Hawaii, Vermont and Pennsylvannia.  They are sharing their experiences of summer, of Christmas and later on, of sports too.    The class considers good commenting skills so that they can reply to their comments and then reciprocate to their readers.  Cybersafety is discussed to ascertain the amount of information to include.   An atlas is brought out – where exactly are Alabama, Pennsylvannia, Vermont  by the way they ask? (they seemed to know where Hawaii is)

Which is the more meaningful exercise ?  No points for guessing my preference !

Thanks again to #comments4kids for a great week of blogging/writing/learning !!