Mitch Squires's Blog

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!

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7 Responses to “Connecting my Classroom”

  1. Jan said

    Mitch, you are incredibly humble. The gifts you have created for your students are immeasurable. They are so obviously engaged in their learning, eager to move on to the next amazing opportunity. Not only are they proud of their work and keen to do the best they possibly can, but their emotional wellbeing and resilience is growing stronger everyday. The girl and her cousins from Sri Lanka is a brilliant connection, bringing significance and relevance to learning all over again.
    You are also setting a wonderful example for others. Maybe you feel like the “lone nut” dancing on the leadership clip posted earlier tonight, but the first, second and third followers are on their way. They really don’t have much of a choice because once the kids have had such opportunity they won’t accept anything less.
    You have designed an outstanding example of “Connect, Collaborate, Create.” Brilliant.
    Congratulations Mitch. :)

  2. Kelly said

    What a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing it. I’ve had a quick look at your class blog over the last week or so but had no idea it was only a month old. I had planned to share it on staff development day but now I can’t wait till then. I’ll email this now, none of my face to face colleagues are on twitter yet but hopefully that’s about to change.

  3. Anne said

    Your post embodies all reasons why blogs should be part of the furniture in classrooms. I love the anecdote on Sri Lanka as it shows the power of blogs for collaboration and sharing. I’ve found the best things about using blogs in the classroom are the unintended learning that happens when the contents moves in surprising ways. This is the kind of thing that kids remember from school.

  4. Katy said

    I have just finished reading this fabulous book called “The Greatest Blogger in the World” by Andrew McDonald.
    You should have a blogging competition in your school just like the character Charlie Ridge in the book.
    I think your class would love reading it too!
    Here is a link to the website with information about the author and characters in the book
    McDonaldhttp://www.thegreatestbloggerintheworld.com/blogger_flashsitev2.html

    • Paul K said

      I’ve nearly finished reading the same book by Andrew McDonald. Katy and I bought out the co-op bookshop’s stock of this book at Macquarie Uni.
      You have done a wonderful job Mitch and I wish you the best over the rest of 2010.
      I have just created a blog for my Senior Girls PSSA Soccer squad of 2 teams and will ‘steal’ some of your inspirational ideas if you don’t mind.
      Keep up the wonderful work and say hi to your class from Mr Kelly and 6K at Harbord Public School!

  5. Kim said

    Hi Mitch

    I have been watching your class blog develop and you are doing a wonderful job connecting your children to their learning and allowing them to share it!

    I was in a similar position to you last year when I started our Library Blog and was amazed at how quickly it took off! It’s a bit harder with 21 classes to personalise the blog but I try to share what we are doing in the LRC in lots of different ways and it has certainly lifted our Library’s profile in the school. Our students are also very proud of the dots on our Clustrmap and make a point of visiting the LRC Blog when they go on holidays so they can add/own a dot (We have a “travellers” tag where they leave us a message). They now realise that their Library doesn’t have four walls…and that is exciting!! Finally a few teachers at my school are going to make class blogs and I won’t be on my own. I’ll be showing them your blog this term when I do some PD with them.

    You will definitely be inspiring other teachers at your school to come on board! I’ll stay tuned…

    Kim :)

  6. Well done Mitch particularly liked the photo stories on the class blog.I’ll send the link to my ICT coordinator for a look see and link your blog to my site so that I can continue to read your journey.
    Mark
    http://www.mwalker.com.au

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