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Revisiting Blogging

When I found out that I would have a class of my own this year I revisited the thought of having my students blog as a showcase of their learning.

This was my vision….

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And while we have created our blogs, customized their look and made a few entries I feel that we have not made an effective use of the blog.

So today we reflected on my vision and refocused ourselves. Next setting personal goals for blogging, writing and tweeting out what we share!

Getting them going…

on what you say? Blogging!  Over the summer I had read many articles discussing the successes teachers were having with blogging in their classrooms.  So, I started the year with a plan to have my students keep a blog that would serve as a place to share their learning journey throughout the subjects, a digital portfolio of sorts.  I knew that this would be a challenge much like the shift in learning that they would experience here at Countryside Village.

Looking back at the first severals weeks of the school year, I introduced the idea of blogging, many students had that look of shock.  I guess it may have been the fact that they had never blogged before.  Some showed signs of interest.  We started by exploring the Edublogs dahsboard to get familiar with the interface that we would use for blogging.  Some students explored the App for their device.  Many students were interested in customizing the look of their blog.  With the 100’s of themes, every students had the chance to put their own mark on the blog that they would keep.  From there we began the customization that would help keep our blogs organized.  We set up categories and a menu structure for their main page.  This would serve the purpose of keep entries with common threads connected and in one place. (I will be posting videos to my YouTube channel showing the steps taken to complete this setup).  Once this was done, we were essentially ready to begin writing or so I thought we were.  Where would we start?  Something random?  Something with a purpose?  After a little thought, I had the class start with a Bio page, a place for future blog followers to get to know the author, the learner that would be sharing their window into our classroom.  Within a few days, the Bios began popping up in my dash and on the student sites.  From a few sentences long to paragraphs, the students began sharing a little about themselves.  We had made the leap.  The students were now blogging.  The next step, another post!  Topic, unknown!

To hear more about our adventure in blogging check back for future posts about our progress.

Coming soon…. (June, a blog post I couldn’t just step away from)

June has been one of those months, when is it not for a teacher? Year-end trips, events, report cards and of course the inevitable look ahead to the summer.  June is certainly not a month to sit back a relax now that the kids in your class have fully-grasped the expectations that you have drilled into them all year.  The fact is it is a month to keep them interested and motivated with their learning, what better time for collaborative inquiry-based learning.  Students love working with their peers and enjoy the opportunity to explore topics freely.  This June has been all about inquiry, collaboration and sharing.  My students just wrapped up an inquiry project on the impacts of a global issue related to the use and/or extraction of natural resources and now are working together as an entire class on a geographic inquiry about a country or region they wanted to know more about.  While it seems chaotic to have 24 Grade 7’s working on one project, it is amazing to see the division of responsibilities, the planning and the following through that is occurring as time ticks.  I have definitely set out my expectations, first to work together to accomplish a goal, two being that they will sharing the findings of their inquiry with my other two classes and a far greater audience using Twitter and other social media like their blogs.  As well, to have them gain a better geographical understanding of a place, make global connections with experts (Hopefully 😉 ) and to enjoy learning.  And to top off the learning, I have surprised my students by stepping in and participating in the inquiry.  What can I say, I love geography and certainly enjoy digging up new information about places I know little about.

On a professional level June has been all about sharing as, Shivonne and I have led a push on Peel’s very own Project184 blog, a place where the Peel District School Board family can share their learning experiences with others within the board and beyond.  Three weeks into the pilot of the #peel21st184 blog we have seen nearly 20 Peel educators share their responses to the question, “What did you learn today?”   The response has been overwhelming, many have expressed their excitement about the project and lots look forward to the 2014-15 edition of the #peel21st184 blog project.  While thinking ahead to next year is probably the last thing of most are doing, we already have put out the Call for Writers (https://peel21st184.wordpress.com/write-for-the-project/) and are looking for contributors whether it be students, teachers, office managers, or superintendents.  The goal is to have as many PDSB’ers share their experiences, to inspire others.

Where does the time go?

When I set out on the blogging journey, I feared one thing, a stagnant blog.  This fear was probably the one thing that kept me from blogging in the first place, that and knowing what to share with the greater blogging world that was out there.  There was always the time, but it was dedicating the time or choosing to write a blog first before something else that could take priority.  For years, everything else was a priority, the blog was just a thought.  But like an earlier post on this blog that I have started, I came to realize that sharing and reflecting on my practices as a teacher is important professionally.  I write tonight because it has been a couple weeks without a post and that fear of stagnation is real, that and I ask my students to blog 5 of 7 nights every week, reflecting on what they learned each day in school, discussing their genius projects, sharing what they have recently read or just sharing random thoughts they have that they are willing to put out to random readers from where ever they will come from and well I am not modelling what I am expecting from them.  Now, yes I could probably throw out a few reasons for my lack of contribution to my blog but I often find myself at 11:30 or 12 asking the simple question, “where does the time go?”

So, I ask those that may read this post, do you have dedicated time for blogging?  Or do you write when the thoughts come to mind?  Do you start a post and leave it in limbo as a draft? Or immediately publish what you write?

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