A year ago I started blogging for the Coetail courses and for my class. I tried several options last year for my class blog. Eventually I settled for a blog on edublogs that was password protected. I really felt at the time that having a password somewhat defeated the purpose of a blog however, that was what the school administration wanted for the first year. I had envisioned the blog as a way to connect my classroom with other classes and with family and friends around the world. We were able to connect with a few other classes but had to give them passwords and I don’t believe that any of the students shared the blog with family members outside of their immediate home. This year we were able to open up the blogs and not have them password protected. It did mean some changes in what could and should be posted. Last year we had a class mascot.
Brisky went traveling with several of the students during breaks and then started going home each weekend with a different student. A notebook and camera were also sent home and the students could create a story or just chronicle their adventures for the weekend with Brisky. When I posted the photos and stories I would write the name of the student as the author. Since many of the students took photos with Brisky, I had to delete the names or change just to the first initial.
He became so popular I added a second mascot.
During the week I would upload the photos and stories that the students wrote at home to the class blog. Knowing how popular this activity was and how it helped even reluctant writers I added a third mascot this year.
The students love taking home the mascot, camera and notebook. Since I was getting 3 posts a week that weren’t directly related to what we were learning in class I decided to create blogs for Brisky, Bubblez and Teddy. Now I can upload to their blogs that are students blogs linked directly to the class blog. It does keep me busy with uploading all the photos some of the students take. I try to get them to make choices, but I don’t always have the time to work with each individual student and want to post what they have done. Especially on short weeks like this week!
On Tuesday we went to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno. I divided the class into 4 groups and added a fourth mascot, Fluffy. I had started carrying Fluffy myself this fall to take photos with and write about.
Each group had a mascot, camera and worksheets to record ideas and learning. On Wednesday we had a half day before 2 and 1/2 days of conferences. I told the students we were going to create a Voicethread to share what we learned at the museum. The students were allowed to choose a photograph taken by their group or by me or to draw a picture that I could upload to Voicethread. We actually created 2 threads since I used my iPad to photograph the drawings that some of the students made and the other photos were already uploaded to my laptop. I was very fortunate to have the resource teacher in my room for about an hour to help students with choosing and writing what they wanted to share. The first student who finished I was able to have her work with the students on my laptop recording for their photographs while I worked with students on my iPad. It took us another 40 minutes or so after recess to complete all the recordings but we have 2 threads sharing some of our learning from the museum.
Next week when we get back to school I want the students to do some more reflection on the trip as this was the first time I’ve gone there with a class. Then we will continue our learning about dinosaurs.
I had hoped that the class blog would be a place to share our learning and display student work. I think it has accomplished that to a certain degree. Beginning next week Brisky, Fluffy, Teddy and Bubblez will have seats in the classroom. On Fridays we will take time for the students to reflect in one of the groups about what they learned during the week. I haven’t figured out all the logistics but I’m hoping that it will help the EAL and reluctant writers as we work in groups to share some of the learning from the week. I’m also hoping to help students learn how to create a posting for the blog and then post it. I am fortunate in that my EAL co-teacher and a high school teacher assistant are in the classroom at the end of the day and hopefully we can work in 3 different groups on 3 different computers. We may have to find one more volunteer to help with our Friday writing and reflection.
This week we had conferences with students and their parents. In preparation students were asked to choose some of their work to share and reflect on their learning. These are difficult skills, particularly the reflection part. Hopefully through the working in small groups to reflect on our learning each week the students will gain skills and confidence in their reflections. We have had portfolios for many years. This year I decided to try something new with the hard copy portfolio. I created a short movie of each student sharing a just right book, a math strategy, some choral poetry and photos of the individual child. For our next portfolio I hope to involve the students more directly in choosing photos and reflecting on their growth as a reader and mathematician and in their presentation skills.
What are your students doing to reflect on their learning and share their learning?