Mitch Squires's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

My 2010 Edublog Award Nominations

Posted by mitchsquires on December 3, 2010

My nominations for the 2010 Edublog Awards are:

Best individual blog – What Ed Said http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/
Best individual tweeter – @pipcleaves
Best class blog – Bailey Road Team 17 http://baileyrdteam17.blogspot.com/
Best student blog – Emily’s blog http://emilysblog3s.edublogs.org/
Best resource sharing blog – Steph Westwood http://2sparkley.edublogs.org/
Best librarian  blog – Momotimetoread by Margot Lindgren http://momotimetoread.blogspot.com/
Best school administrator blog – LiPS by Roger Pryor http://pryorcommitment.com/lips2/
Best educational use of video / visual –  Kinderclips http://www.eastwood.nsw.edu.au/kinderclips/ @louwinsr
Best use of a PLN –  #comments4kids Twitter hashtag – lead by @wmchamberlain and @mrwoodnz
Best use of a social network – Berthoud Elementary on Facebook lead by Julie Cunningham @techfacil

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10 ways to motivate students to blog…

Posted by mitchsquires on October 23, 2010

Collaborative post with Edna Sackson, a PYP teacher in Melbourne. Cross-posted at her blog, WhatEdSaid. She wrote some, I wrote some, we both wrote some. We had fun… kids could do this too!

From Ed: I love to blog. I’m an addict.

I like to blog about things that matter to me, things I’m thinking about and things I learn. I respond to things I’ve read. I share things that I discover. I reflect.

I’d find it difficult to blog if someone told me what I had to write about. I’d hate to have deadlines by which my posts were due. If I was expected to blog about things that didn’t interest me, I’d never produce another post. I don’t think I’d like someone correcting my writing. I wouldn’t like writing on the same topic everyone else was writing about today!

Why should younger, possibly smaller people feel any differently?

From Mitch: I was only ever an occasional blogger until this year, writing in fits and starts, however starting a class blog opened up a whole new world . Students loved having their work on show to a global audience, able to provide genuine feedback. Parents loved the ‘window into our classroom’. I loved the excitement I saw in the students, the motivation it sparked in them. After the initial buzz wore off, however, I had to find ways to keep the students interested…

10 ways to motivate students to blog…

1. Hook them in.

Post a powerful provocation to get them thinking. Get them to respond as a comment. Use photos, artwork, video clips. Suggest a thinking routine to scaffold responses. eg ‘Connect, Extend, Challenge‘ or ‘See, Think,Wonder’. Ask powerful, engaging questions about big ideas and accept all kinds of responses. Sam Sherratt’s class blog is a great example.

2. Freedom of choice.

Allow choice. Encourage students to write about what matters to them. Don’t expect everyone to write about the same thing at the same time in a uniform way. Encourage creativity rather than compliance. (I love this point. I struggled initally with the idea of set tasks vs student choice. While it sometimes bothers me that some of my students won’t post great classwork because it doesn’t fit with their own view of their blog, if I look at the bigger picture, it makes their blogs more authentic and relevant to them. (Mitch)

3. Don’t over correct.

Ed: Actually the jury’s out on this one. Some say blog posts should be final draft pieces, with spelling and grammar correct. I tend to disagree. I’d allow students to express their opinions, grow their thinking, be creative… but I may be wrong! Mitch: My general rule on this one is if the work is an assigned class task, I expect students to have thoroughly checked the accuracy of their spelling and grammar. If it is a personal interest piece written in their own time (most of what makes up their blogs) then I am happy as long as it all makes reasonable sense.

4. Help provide an authentic audience.

Share student blogs with other teachers at your school. Invite parents and grandparents to comment. A comment from a grandmother interstate, a cousin overseas or a teacher from a school on another continent is a powerful motivator for students. Tell your online PLN about them. Add a Clustrmaps widget showing global visitors.

5. Model good writing.

Blogging is writing. Share your own blog with your students. Write posts that model the sort of writing you’d like them to produce. John Spencer writes beautifully. So do his students at Social Voice!

6. Encourage different modes of expression.

Blogging isn’t only writing. Encourage creativity. Students might create videos, images or cartoons and post them. Great examples here from David Mitchell’s class blog.

7. Make global connections.

Students love to hear what their peers think. Help them connect with both an in-school and an online PLN. Collaborate with classes in other countries. Read about Australian Kath McGeady’s collaboration with a class in the US. Their Uganda project is inspiring! And have you seen the Alice Project, where ‘Three 10th-grade Honors English classes tumble down the rabbit hole to discover Alice’s journey first-hand’?

8. Encourage students to support each other.

Who doesn’t get a kick out of working together to solve a problem? Students love to show each other how to use that photo of their artwork to make a Jigsaw Planet, or record their speech as a podcast for their blog. If they have the skills, let them share them! (I love this one. ‘Kids showing kids’ is much more effective than teacher as boss of learning! -Ed)

9. Let them own it.

The theme. The widgets. The blog name. The posts. Kids love to take full control and place their own stamp on their patch of online space. Mitch Squires’ Year 3 student, Emily blogs here.

10. The power of embedding.

Help students master embedding web 2.0 and multimedia tools. They’ll be empowered to experiment and include an almost endless range on their blogs. See Steve Davis’s middle school English class understandings of text, expressed through different media.

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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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