Connecting my Classroom
Posted by mitchsquires on March 29, 2010
It’s been just over a month since I made the long overdue decision to start a class blog. In that short time, I’ve been amazed by the responses from students, parents, teachers and many others. I’d been planning to start a class blog for quite some time, however it always seemed to be just one item too far down the to do list. Organising parent information notes, explaining to my supervisor and principal what it was all about, then actually coming up with something to put on it all were hurdles that stood in my way.
Eventually, I decided to bite the bullet. Initially, I set up a blog using Edublogs, a free blogging site. I posted three short posts – a welcome note to my students, three diamante poems students in my class had written the day before and an embedded Storybird that my class had jointly constructed. It was this third post that really got me excited. I’d never quite grasped what it meant to be able to embed content until that point.
The next morning I shared the blog with my class. They were quite thrilled to see their own work published on their very own website. Soon, we were all hooked. I spent the next fortnight pushing the limits of what I could do with the blog – embedding Flickr photostreams, Wordles, blip.tv videos and even an online survey. The kids renamed the blog and began enthusiastically suggesting every piece of work they do be posted.
The real excitement arrived shortly when comments started arriving on the blog. So many positive comments really opened the kids and my eyes to the fact that their work was no longer just on display on the back wall of the classroom, but the whole world. Feedback from such a diverse audience including teachers from all over Sydney, NSW, Australia and even Wales and the USA kept coming in thanks to my Twitter network.
Soon, the blog was picked up by Roger Pryor, HCC SED, who offered us free hosting at http://hccweb3.org/3s2010/ . The feedback kept coming from teachers like Mrs Dem, Audrey Nay, Margot Lindgren, Bianca Hewes, Mrs Westwood and Jan Green, causing more excitement for the kids. We added a clustrmap and each new dot gave us a mini geography lesson every day. Each morning, the first question the kids have is ‘can we check the blog?’ despite most of them having checked it the night before after school. Conversations about comments and feedback have become a regular part of our morning routine, and the kids are buzzing every time there’s a new repsonse to their work.
One of the biggest benefits I have noticed from starting a blog is how much pride the students now have in their work. Every time we start some work, I am bombarded with kids asking ‘Can mine go up on the blog?’ With good reason too. The look of joy on the face of a young girl in my class when she was able to tell us the dot on the clustrmap in Sri Lanka was her cousins listening to the podcast of her speech was priceless.
With the advent in the last week or so of BlogEd, blogging in schools has just become easier, and I am now a huge advocate of blogging in the classroom. My advice: take a step on a terrific journey and start a blog for your class today!