Blogging Beyond One Classroom

Part of my work, at my school, is to create a framework for our Middle School that will take (already) blogging students from Elementary School and prepare a smooth transition for them, as they move on to High School.

I am looking BEYOND the one classroom or one specific teacher blogging with their students.

As you might have been able to tell due to the increasing blog posts about blogging, my mind is swirling around:

Currently,  we are in year 1 of implementing blogging across 6th, 7th and 8th grade. All students have their own blogfolios, these portfolios started out with being used to house artifacts and reflections to be shared with their parents during student led conferences (SLC). The idea though was/is to make blogging a platform for writing (in digital spaces) , feedback, conversation, (global) connections and a hub for personal learning. How do we accomplish that not only in individual classrooms or for one individual teacher, but division and eventually school wide?

Below are some doodle notes (testing out… practicing sketchnoting…having trouble with illustrations)

blogging-framework

When several grade levels are moving towards a blogging platform (at the same time), it is hard to develop a scope and sequence for blogging as a tool. I might have the same expectations for 6th graders in their first year of blogging as I would have for the 8th graders. They are writing, commenting, connecting, communication in different media forms and exhibiting the same rules of digital citizenship. Will they all work on the same kinds of “blogging” skills at the same time? How will addressing these skills shift, as we enter year 2, year 3 of implementation? What will happen to new students who come to your school from a non-blogging school? How will we support them?

Here are a few more questions and thoughts I have about STRATEGICALLY implementing a division (school wide) blogging platform:

I am trying to making the connections between blogging and pedagogy,  modern literacies and standards  and core values (character traits, etc.) evident.

blogging

I am trying to adapt the SAMR model to take blogs as a technology tool that substitutes traditional tasks to a platform that transforms teaching and learning (watch for future blog posts about examples of blogging at different stages of the SAMR mode)

SAMR

blogging-SAMR

Another aspect of using blogs with students is being addressed by Stephen Downes , who articulates the need to teach students the skills to store, manage and enable access to their work online. How can we best support students to NOT SIMPLY create a digital footprint, but do so strategically and know how to manage their work.

blogging-amplificaton-literacy

What will be the best way to create a consistent label/category system? One that will facilitate evidence of growth/learning over an extended period of time and FOR assessment?

labels
For the ones that need reassurance, that they meet standards (in whatever subject area), it might be a good idea to make an upgrade by blogging visible. Are the standards addressed and can be assessed via blogging?

Below you will find a sample of ICT standards addressed by upgrading a traditional book report beyond using substitution of merely copying/pasting text onto a blog.

blogging-ICT

I have laid out my thoughts, ideas,  and question of HOW to go BEYOND pockets of individual classrooms and students with one particular teacher or grade level blogging.

  • How can we create a framework that is sustainable across a division or entire school (K-12)?
  • What are expectations of students in different age groups?
  • What are expectations of teachers to make this a COLLABORATIVE way of learning through blogging at a school or district?
  • How do we connect divisions, subject areas and grade levels to make LONG TERM benefits evident?

Who is willing to connect with me, as they are working on the same kinds of implementation questions beyond one classroom?

 

11 thoughts on “Blogging Beyond One Classroom”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this information. We are really focusing on using blogs more extensively at our school but I see the need to really be able to explain (defend) the academic and life skills developed through blogging. Your post comes at just the right time for me as I have begun gathering information and research regarding blogging.

    Sincerely,
    Diana Beabout
    eLearning Coach
    Shekou International School (China)

  2. Hi Silvia,

    It was great to connect with you last week and talk about this topic.

    How much buy-in do you have from your teachers? How much of what you ultimately want for your students (“a platform for writing (in digital spaces) , feedback, conversation, (global) connections and a hub for personal learning”, knowing how to actively manage and curate their word digitally) is understood, valued and modelled by the classroom teachers?

    A few years ago, I started the #blogalliance with teachers from my school and another school who are at about the same point in blogging with students. The idea was to give them an authentic opportunity to experience what we hoped to create for our students. I’d like to say it was a rousing success but it wasn’t really. We did manage to get a few teachers started on their blogging journey, however. As they began to see the power and possibilities of blogging they were looking for ways to give their students the same opportunities.

    Now we have teachers who are involved with COETAIL as a means of giving them that experience.

    Is there a way for you to create a parallel learning track for teachers so that they can put themselves in the students’ shoes while learning some new and necessary skills in the process?

    1. @Clint
      I agree with you 100%. Teachers should have the same opportunity to experience blogging for their own learning and growth. It is THE best way for them to be able to “translate”that kind of amplified learning for their students. I wrote a 7 part series of Stepping it Up: Learning to Blog FOR your Students, exactly about that train of thinking.
      While I believe it is THE best way of learning, the reality (as you saw from your blogalliance work), might look more like “I am not a writer”, “I don’t have time”, “who wants to read what I write”, “It is not my thing” or simply the ANGST of transparency or being judged that prevents teachers from becoming bloggers as well.
      While we can have a plan and make a policy that ALL students at a school will have blogs and all subject areas are to contribute, blogging as a professional needs to be an intrinsic motivation… otherwise it will fizzle out for the teacher.
      What schools SHOULD have in place (and what the COETAIL seems to provide for yours) is the platform for teachers to test the waters and experience connected learning for themselves.

      Thank you for connecting (via Hangout) and here again to help get the conversation started and fresh with new perspectives.

  3. I find these articles wonderful, I am just beginning my journey as a Tech Integrator and have wanted to pilot a group for blogging. I would like to bring this idea to the sixth grade teacher. I find it difficult to get students to really go beyond the ‘‘ I agree … comment“. I know it must be a process and I won‘t be getting the best comments the first month. Your info graphics are great for comprehension.

  4. Excellent blog post – love it!

    Our school is a few years down the track with students having their own blogs for the last 2 years. However we are having a bit of trouble getting traction. What we really need is a real audience for our student blogs.

    Would you (or any other educators/commenters in similar situations) like to establish a partnership of sorts? I would imagine grouping one student from each school (be good if 4 or 5 schools were involved) to read/comment/etc on each other’s blogs.

    This is a bit similar to the “quadblogging” idea out there, only in an ongoing basis.

    Our school is a government high school in Australia.
    Cheers
    Greg

    1. @Greg,
      I know EXACTLY what you mean. Sometimes we hype up blogs and blogging with our students by telling them they are writing for an audience and THE WORLD will read their work in the hope we motivate them to do their best… THEN no one comments… IT is discouraging for many students.
      In year one of implementation, I am encouraging teachers to get into the routine of having the classmates regularly comment on each other’s posts. Then starting to amplify and have cross- classes/subject areas/grade levels within our school and then make STRATEGIC connections with others from around the world.
      Participating in a quad blogging project (for a specific timeframe), establish blog buddy programs or I am also thinking of creating a comMENTOR program, where pre-service teachers at universities under the guidance and support of their professor) become mentors via blogs to the students, also starting to look and train parents or grandparents to become the mentors on the students blog.

      One is for sure… just because we built the student blogs, does not mean… the (visitors and commenters) will come. Take a look at a guest post by Andrea Hernandez Where is the authentic Audience?

      I am definitely interested in connecting our schools. Let’s talk…

      1. Thanks for the response Silvia.

        Yes, I’d love to get a group of (say) five schools together and get student bloggers into small groups. Then we could get individual students commenting on the blogs of the other students in their group.

        DM me @greg_twitt (or email me if you have access to my email address?)
        Cheers
        Greg

  5. Hi Silvia,

    I am working through similar implementation questions at a district level. With that said, two of my six schools decided as a site to adopt blogging as their site goal; and are working towards that. Both of those schools are elementary schools.

    We are 1:3 at our elementary schools, and 1:1 in 7th-10th grades (and 11th grade starting next year). At our 1:1 schools, the teachers who are new to it are more focused on creating meaningful content and learning via Google Apps while learning/teaching the new Common Core Standards. The teachers who have implemented 1:1 three or four years ago (at our Junior High) are more open to blogging because they’re comfortable with their new routines that occur in 1:1 (and the students are comfortable as well).

    Here’s an example of a Cactus Canyon Junior High group blog, used to publish their journalism pieces, which sometimes gets picked up and republished by the local news press. They take pride in their products, and is a good example of a journalism/news community blog. A framework would help them with thinking about incorporating links, also part of the Common Core Writing Standard #1 (support claims with logical reasoning / relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.).

    What I have not seen in our secondary levels is individual blogs. The teachers are still wrapping their heads around the idea of a class blog, but why that’s important beyond substitution/augmentation for/of paper/pencil work (lower level SAMR). A framework would help, and so would examples with best practices. Secondary is different than elementary, and what works for elementary doesn’t necessarily transfer over.

    As you stated in the comment with Greg Twitt, making strategic connections is a key ingredient for nourishing and growing a blogging culture. It’s the “why” and real world connection for writing on a blog. Quad blogging has been successful with our elementary, but our most of our secondary teachers still want to make connections within their content area, which I don’t believe happens with quad blogging. (Am I misinformed?) So, if you all would like to make content area connections for secondary, I could assist with setting that up as well within my district.

    Thanks for sharing where you are with the process of school-wide implementation, creating a blogging community, with a framework to guide the process. I’d like to hear more about this, and see how I could work with it for my community of teachers.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy

  6. This is exactly what my Media Sp. and I have been bouncing around ideas for. I’m currently a 6th grade teacher and am using blogging with my students. I’ve found exciting ways to expand their work but I’ll be our school’s Tech and Learning Coach. I would love to see more teachers jump on board. Will def. be using your insight to guide us.

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