Thursday, 21 February 2008

We're Tearing The Walls Down... One Brick At A Time

My class and I have made our first steps into the world of classroom blogging. Yesterday we worked together to create our first blog post. The children had so much to say, the ideas just kept tumbling out - our blog post ended up quite long, but I was absolutely stoked with their enthusiasm and the number and range of contributions. One of the things that was just wonderful to watch was how one child's idea would spark something for another child, who would add their contribution, and so on and so on... They were really thinking about the structure and sequence of our post, I heard comments like - "I would like to add a sentence just before the sentence about..." or "That paragraph there might be better at the top because..." The kids were engaged and motivated and they were exploring oral language, reading, collaboration, cooperation, thinking about structure and audience.

What they find the most exciting is the idea that they have a real audience, their parents and other family members , other teachers and classes in our school and in schools across Auckland, New Zealand and the world. This was made even more real for them when Amanda visited their blog last night and left them a comment. This meant that I was able to return to school today and, less than 24 hours after there entry was posted, share feedback from a real live reader. The kids were absolutely thrilled and can't wait for Amanda to get back from L@S so she can share their blog with her class. Thank you so much Amanda - you made their day.

At this stage I am scribing for them and we are creating our post as a whole class, shared writing experience. I added the links and photos for them too. I am working towards the children being able to take responsibility for all aspects of our blog. I'm hoping to use something like blogging buddies, monitors or teams - possibly evening having children take a turn at being editor in chief so that someone has the responsibility of giving the post a final ok before uploading. I'm still playing around with ideas in my head at this stage - I need to mamp out a long term vision to ensure the whole process scaffolds smoothly and remains a worthwhile learning experience.

In order to sell the idea of blogging to my principal I decided to make their blog invite only so that it is pass word protected. This is a mixed blessing, as on one hand I can restrict access to the type of audience I approve of, on the other hand - it could reduce their potential audience of acceptable and legitimate readers due to the extra step and hassle involved. What it does mean is that parents have to request an invite in order to get their password to view the site and the children will have to wait for their feedback until this is all sorted. However, I am sure once things are all up and running this will be fine.

I am hoping to be able to invite some other classes from around NZ (and beyond) so that they can have an audience of their peers, as well as providing them with the opportunity to visit and comment on other blogs so they get to experience the true power of blogging.

We are beginning to create our classroom without walls, just baby steps at first and slowly, brick by brick we will get there. I'm feeling excited and positive about our learning journey.

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