Saturday, March 26, 2011

Students are Challenged to Blog

One of my highlights this past week was the day I spent team teaching in Mrs. Martinez's 4th grade class. We have entered the Class Blog Student Challenge: A global blogging challenge for students of all ages.

During the past few weeks, we have focused on setting up our blog (posting guidelines), Internet safety, and how to leave a comment for others. We are now ready to start on the actual challenge.

Group 1: What should we blog about?
  • What can we write about that others will find interesting?
  • What will readers learn from our blog?
  • What can we contribute that could help others?
Group 1 Blog Prompt: Why should students and classes visit our blog?
 

Group 2: Compare and Contrast "About" pages
  • You are a detective looking for similarities and differences between the "About" pages on the blogs in our Blogroll?
  • What is similar and different with our "About" page and theirs?
  • Use our graphic organizer, and take notes as you find answers.
Group 2 Blog Prompt: Write a post comparing the "About" pages. Remember to include links back to those class blogs, and remember we are digital citizens.


Group 3: Introduce our Class to the World in a Slideshow
  • If there were only 10 pictures you could take to introduce our class, what pictures would we use to show our best qualities?
  • Create a plan of what pictures (indoors and outdoors) best depicts us. Be ready to defend why.
  • Use the graphic organizer to complete the task.
  • There is one more step, but you will be given the specific directions in class. In order to receive the directions, you will need to complete the above graphic organizer with superb quality.
Group 3 Blog Prompt: Write a brief introduction of our class based on our graphic organizer. You will then create an animoto with images of your classroom or school to embed in your post.


Group 4: Visit your Buddy Classes
  • Visit two sites from our Blogroll (you will be assigned which sites to visit).
  • Find a post to leave a comment on.
  • You must follow our comment guidelines and procedures.
  • Use the graphic organizer to take notes what you found interesting.
Group 4 Blog Prompt: Write a post about visiting other class blogs. Tell what you found interesting. Remember to include links back to those class blogs, and remember we are digital citizens.
Blog Challenge 1 Graphic Organizers
Classroom Management
In order to maximize time and get everyone involved, we approached this challenge jigsaw style. It was very important to have the graphic organizers ready for each group.

After introducing the challenge activities, we broke the class into groups. It was best to get Groups 3 and 1 on task first because Groups 2 and 4 would require my assistance on the computers since this was our first time everyone was going to the blog, and procedures are still being established for this.

Group 3 Management -- Photos for Animoto

With one digital camera available, we only had four students in Group 3 working on the photos for creating an Animoto. I waited until they were in a small group to explain they were actually going to take pictures around the school, but they had to have their plan mapped out first (see graphic organizer for Group 3).

I brought up what to do if there were differences of opinions in the group and allowed them to brainstorm what to do to resolve it. When it was clear they understood the task and they were prepared for collaboration, I let them get to work. I knew this would take some time to map out, which allowed me to focus on the other groups.

I checked in on them periodically. Before giving them the digital camera, we made sure the photo resolution was set to the lowest setting for ease in uploading them to the blog. When it was time to give them the equipment, we discussed the following key expectations:
  • Properly using the camera 
  • Handling the equipment appropriately, with the wrist strap on at all times
  • Walking throughout the campus
  • Quiet voices
  • Staying together as a group
  • Not photographing students' faces
  • Organizing the order of locations to go to for the quickest route, and only giving them permission to go to those locations
  • There was a 10 minute limit they could be out of the classroom (which would be tight, but they could manage it)
  • Last of all, I told them I trust them to complete this task following all my expectations, and I know they will which will mean they get to do something like this in the future
When they returned, they worked with Mrs. Martinez on creating the Animoto.  If I were the only teacher in the classroom, I'd do that part the following day during small group rotations/centers as our center.

Group 1 Management -- What will our blog be about and why should others visit it?

We got Group 1 started. It helped to have copies of the task and discussion questions. They discussed what they thought and brainstormed together verbally. Then they each wrote a paragraph expressing their ideas about the blog.

When their paragraph was ready, which was towards the end of class, they went to the open computers to type it as a post or a comment.

The timing for this worked nicely because Groups 2 and 4 were finishing up on the computers, which allowed them access to complete this task. For those who didn't get to type, they can finish it next week.

Management with Groups 2 and 4 -- About Pages and Visiting Buddy Classes

The hardware in the room determined how many students were in Groups 2 and 4. We have six thin clients in Mrs. Martinez room; therefore, we partnered them up, assigned them the classes to visit, and helped them log onto the computer.

I had to teach them how to find Mrs. Martinez's class blog as the starting point, and then how to navigate from there. Naturally, each group reviewed the commenting procedures with me.

For Group 2 -- About Pages, it worked best to have them read our About Page first, then look at another About page. Once they read through both, it was easy to compare and contrast.

The graphic organizer was extremely important to focus on their task, remember which blogs they were assigned, and take notes for their writing prompt at their seats. (I marked on their graphic organizer with a big green dot which ones they were assigned for clarity).

Group 4 finished their commenting task first, so they returned to their seats to write what they found interesting about the blogs they visited. Group 1 students were able to rotate to the computers to type their post/comments.

Group 2 kids also returned to their seats to write paragraphs comparing and contrasting the About pages. When they were done with their draft, they went back to an open computer to type, or turned it in.

Reflection

It was a success having students write with an authentic purpose and real audience. The discussions they had about composing and editing, along with the process of how to navigate throughout the blogs were fabulous.

It was a joy to watch the gamut of kids gain from this experience.

What's the Next Step?

Mrs. Martinez and I discussed how she can use blogging as their writing prompts and daily journals. We explored how to record grades for measuring growth while focusing on the standards. 

Our next step is to complete all of Challenge 1, have students follow up with the discussions they've started as comments, and looking ahead to how we'll get parent involvement with the blog.


This blog was inspired by the Edublogs Student Challenge. I want to thank Miss W for all she does to inspire bloggers around the globe. I wrapped my head around how to approach this in the classroom when I visited her class blog and saw how she did it.

2 comments:

  1. G'day Tracy,
    Thanks for the great step by step of how you started blogging with your co-teacher and her class.

    I also visited their class blog and saw the great examples of what they found out. In fact I think they were mentioned on the student blogging challenge 'Visit these' post published yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Miss W,

    Thank you for visiting Mrs. Martinez's Class Blog. The students are excited about blogging, and I can't wait to hear their reaction to being listed as one of the recommended blogs to visit! I also look forward to hearing their reaction to the visitor locations/Clustr Map.

    Thanks again for all you do!

    Kind regards,
    Tracy

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