Sunday, October 31, 2010

New blogs are born & thoughts on our student blogging workship

Last week I co-facilitated a Wednesday morning professional development session on the topic of, "Student blogging." Click here to access the resource document that we created for our attendees. This was a part of a periodic series of workshops known as "Learning Exhanges" - this is something new that we're trying as a way to promote sharing of all forms in our school community. Our session was very well attended and we set out to answer the following great, big question: 

How can we use blogging and other online writing opportunities to provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, publish for a large audience, break the myth of perfectionism, and as a tool for formative assessment?
As so often happens in these types of tech-related learning sessions, the questions from our attendees seemed to focus around things like platforms and the 'how to' types. Not that these aren't important-they are-but as far as I'm concerned they're secondary in comparison to the ones posed in the big question. My co-facilitator and language learning teacher extraordinaire, Flaurie Imberman, summed it up well when she talked about the many challenges that we've experienced in using blogging our Latin American and Caribbean History course. She mentioned that our experience has been difficult because most of the work that we do with students in our classes is highly private. Very rarely do we ask them to open up and share their thoughts, processes, and final products with an audience that goes beyond the teacher. Blogging, if approached properly, certainly has the potential to serve as an antidote to the privatization of class work, teaching and learning.

In the context of this session on blogging, I'd like to link to five blogs that have been born over the past 6 weeks at my school.

Middle School online newspaper - this is the first online newspaper at my school, and it comes from our middle school students and teachers. Please leave a comment or two if you have a moment

Philosophy Class Lectures - Teacher Bill Smoot is posting all of his lectures for his semester long course on Philosophy. They are all available in iTunes as well.

Mobile Learning Group Blog - I mentioned this in a recent post. This is a group blog being authored by 16 colleagues at my school who were all given an iPad with the expectation that we'd engage in regular professional development around this topic.

Stories from Advisory - I started this as a tool to keep the parents of my sophomore student advisory (sophomores in USA schools are typically 15-16 years old). Parents can be so valuable in extending the conversations that are often times initiated in school activities like advisory - conversations at the dinner table can be dramatically altered and improved when parents have a little insight into the school day happenings.

Latin American Caribbean History Group Blog - this group blog was a compromise that we made with the students in this class who felt very insecure about blogging - generally speaking, the students didn't feel like they should be writing in a public space about a topic they weren't 'experts' on. So we compromised and they came up with the idea to co-author in a group blog. Posts should start appearing this week. Please comment!!!

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