Tuesday, September 4, 2007

blogging to learn/ Reflection Day 4

I love it when I stumble across an answer to a question as I'm reading the blog-post of another educator. Today Dave Cormier posted about a blogging conference/seminar he presented and one of my favorite blog authors posted a response to his blog.

This week I have been struggling with the idea of "how" to blog with my students in a meaningful way. I am interested in how blogs can improve student achievement especially for language learners. Originally, I had expected all students to blog 4 times a week. However, I'm beginning to think that this is too much for them to do. I find that the blog posts become repetitive and thoughtless. I have some really great posts from my freshmen, some that will no doubt be useful to show growth. However, I don't think they have the concept of a blog down. Quite frankly, neither did I before I dove in head first and began reading, studying and writing my own.

Through grad school at Regis, I have found my experience to be rewarding and have seen growth in my thought and process because I can reflect and react on teachings and learnings with professors and colleagues. I believe that the foundation to truly understanding and learning is through the metacognative-reflective process. (I think that this topic was one of my first blog posts.) I want my students to experience this type of learning experience because it is s0 meaningful to me.

I don't know how to help them see it as a learning tool. I think that for now, blogging once a day is not working, at all. In the future, I will have them reflect (the old fashioned way) daily, and then have one person post a "week in review" at the end of the week. Then, I will have the other students comment on the "week in review" on Monday. My students are not great self-starters and are not that great at starting something new. So, I think for this first half of the semester I will help them out by scaffolding the process a little better: show them blogs, have them reflect or comment on blogs. My hope is that they create a sense of creativity and ownership of their own thoughts and see themselves as an "expert," as Darren K. put it. I will continue to post class notes daily or every other day, as is necessary, and help my students get into the habit of looking at their class blog and using it as a resource.

Possible rubric (4pt scale)

4 in addition to 3 shows in-depth details, suggestions or resources

3 Completely summarizes the weeks learning experiences AND reflects on personal growth, knowledge, confusion, learning and connections

2 Completely summarizes the learning experiences may show some reflection

1 attempts to summarize or summarizes inaccurately does not show complete thought

I'm thinking of also adding a rubric on audience(professionalism) and grammar...perhaps I'll borrow from the district short response rubric

on a side note
I had a little technical fiasco today that turned my face red....I know, my mom's Irish, its not hard to turn my face red!

First, while I was gone on Friday I had 2 laptops from our dept. set stolen Huge bummer, not because of the equipment but because I think my teacher-student relationship with these students is shot! Also, I have this panging feeling in my gut that I should be taking better care of my stuff and this incident prompted me to get organized fast!

Second, I checked out a lap-top cart from the library for my blocks 3-4. Another teacher (who checked it out for 5-6) came in with 25 minutes to go in block 4 (this is my split block and these kids just came back from lunch) and demanded the cart. I was planning on cleaning up in a few minutes and having my student assistant get the cart to her before class was over, but I think the system is flawed...with out much hope for a solution. In an effort to let everyone possible use the technology, you can sign up for them for blocks and not simply the entire day. The technology, if you're not used to it can be intimidating and hard to set up, but who has priority: The students currently using the computers or the teacher waiting to set it up for her students? Maybe the library can get a student assistant in charge of rounding-up equipment and setting it up for teacher.....what ever happened to the AV CLUB? (ie:Freaks and Geeks)

Sorry, this post was so long, thanks for hanging in there!! Long Day


Bud said...

I think you're quite right about blogging every day - I found that once a week on the blog was about right at first. My older students could sometimes handle a little more - but too much and it's no longer a useful tool. Keep sharing -- I'm learning lots.

Joseph Miller said...

I think if you stay focused on the goal of improving student achievement through the blog you will adapt as you go. The main thing to remember is not to lower the expectations.

As I read your reflection it struck me that the reason blogging is attractive as a way of improving student writing/learning is because the students get a real world experience of writing for a wider audience. Sharon Peters called this authentic in her response to Dave. If the audience is other than the teacher it gets relevant very suddenly. Students need concrete knowledge that there is a larger audience reading their stuff and the best way to see that is to have comments. I think Sharon wrote that she convinced her headmaster to comment on student writing once a week...is that a possibility for you? Is there a colleague in another school/department you could lean on to also comment until the student blogs gain traction?

The students need to come to the conclusion that the blogging is relevant to them. That is always a struggle with classwork, but I believe connecting beyond the class could encourage this process.