I’m going through a bit of a conundrum at the moment as I feel that I have bitten off a bit more than I can chew. You see I am a big believer in classroom blogs and social media as a way to break down the walls of a classroom. I try and connect with others as much as possible around the world as I feel that is important to have my students be macro focused rather than micro focused; it is a big world out there, but from a little country school like mine it is easy to be disconnected.
By the end of the 2012 school year my class of 8 & 9 year olds were independently publishing on their own KidBlogs. Our class run Blogger was no longer my blog, as it was being co-authored by myself and students through the use of the Blog Press iPad App and we were finalist for in Interface Magazine Best Classroom Blog for 2012. Every Wednesday afternoon in the last term of the year was #KidsEdChatNZ where the kids were tweeting to other classes around New Zealand independent of my input. The blog roll on the side of both the KidBlog and the Class Blog was filled with classed around the world that we communicated with and commented on. We participated in a Quadblog with classes in Australia and the UK. We even had a Skype chat with a wonderful class in Hamilton, but sadly were hindered by our incredibly poor internet connection.
In reflection it was hugely successful and I wanted to begin 2013 with a hiss and a roar and make it bigger and better than 2012. Kids walked in to find that their KidBlog logins ready and they just needed to create an avatar. We began Quadblogging in week 3 and we are soon to be participants in the Traveling Rhino Project and… and… and… and… That is where my problem has surfaced. If I was at the Olympics it would be immediate false start and disqualification.
Why is there a problem and what did I do wrong? Well in simple I looked and planned in the summer holidays at what I wanted our global/social connectedness to look like, but based my data around my previous class of 8-9 year olds who I had taught over half for 2 years, not my new class of 7-8 year olds of which only 5 had I taught previously. Additionally my class numbers jumped from 20 to 25, which does not seem huge, and really is a blessing to only have a class of 25, but a 25% increase is a big increase on the teacher student ratio.
So where to now, as I know that it is not quite working like it was in my head pre students arriving.
- Back to the basics with KidBlogs – Model posting, celebrate posts and post myself through the use of the interactive whiteboard. Set aside a small amount of time every morning to do these three things.
- Take back the reigns of the class blog a bit, but not completely. Get those tech-experts, who I taught last year, to pair post on the class blog with a newbie, thus passing on the skills and knowledge.
- Quadblog as a class, not independently – while last year’s class took it upon themselves to comment on the other Quads, and did it very successfully, this years will comment in pairs of novice and expert, in set times and on the IWB, thus giving them a bit more scaffolding.
- What makes a good comment – this lesson needs to be brought out and revisited, as I am a firm believer that blog posting and commenting is more relevant a writing genre than letter writing or creative writing with regards to the 21 century learner.
- #Comments4Kids – this is my most favorite Hashtag in the twitterverse created by William Chamberlain. It is in essence the key to student’s success with on line writing, as it is all about the student and providing feedback and comments to their writing. So as my students are not quite at the independence level of commenting as much as I would like them to be I will pay it forward and comment for them on other classes blogs whenever I see that wonderful #Comments4Kids on twitter. I will take time also to comment on each of the blogs that are on our classes blog roll. This I hope will allow me to occasionally call on others when comments are needed using the #Comments4Kids.
- #KidsEdChatNZ – I will dictate comments and just take it from there. Maybe Tweetdeck on the desktop for the techsperts to tweet on, while the newbies start at square one of ‘What is Twitter’.
- Skype – Well, we have just had our internet upgraded and the speed has morphed from 0.21MBPS to 12.7MBPS (an increase of 60x), so I think that this is an area to look into. Maybe a Mystery Skype?
Now that I have my plan of attack set out I still feel silly for making such a rookie mistake in not knowing my learners needs and abilities prior to planning, but it has been a valuable lesson and great reflection process.