Third Time’s the Charm

This past week I have been thinking about my learning project. I had asked Alec about creating an open-source textbook and how that would work into the project and spent some time mulling over how I would like it to work. The more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t so sure that it was what I wanted to do. Trash can for Idea #1.

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via GIPHY

I looked into different things I could learn. I asked my students, I asked my brother. Ideas of Spanish (we recently had three students who speak minimal English join our school, so it would be practical), sewing (similar to Shelby  and Ashley, I love Hallowe’en and enjoy make elaborate costumes so sewing could be a handy skill), and my brother was excited to suggest coding (being the electrical engineer that he is) and even offered me his Arduino to learn and practice with . And yet with all of these great ideas, my heart was just not into any of them. Trash can for Idea #2.

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via GIPHY

AND THEN….our school became a little crazy. With newly added staffing of 0.5 FTE, new timetables for all grades 7-12 (and minor changes in PreK-6), and transitioning students to new teachers, my learning project took a rest in the back of my brain to simmer until the hectic was (mostly) over. After things had slowed down, I realized exactly what I wanted to do for my learning project, something I had wanted to do for a long time but had just never been able to get going properly: having my students blog as part of their course.

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Photo Credit: MarcelaPalma Flickr via Compfight cc

So social media and open education implementation it is! It may sound like this was a last resort, but to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I have been getting excited about it. I have decided that I will implement blogging with my Social 9 class. I have already decided that I would allow my students more choice in the societies we study this year, developing units as inquiry and independent learning tasks with various supported activities. Using blogs for students to share their learning and interact with the public world, seemed like an easy and authentic fit for blogging! Last step before starting down the planning stages: clear with my administration, which was received very well (and with some personal anecdotes of their experiences).

And so we begin! I am still looking for what platform I will use, I want to play around with a couple before starting, the biggest annoyance for me when integrating something new is not liking the platform or program I choose and finding one WAY better suited to my needs a couple days after I have rolled it out. This may still happen but I want to try to eliminate the majority of the disappointment of missing out on a great platform. I like using WordPress for my personal blog but I’m not sure if that is the best option to use with my students, I know some use Edublogs but I don’t have personal experience using that platform.

Goals for my project:

  • Set up individual student blogs
  • Teach my students about blogging, integrating images and videos, and commenting on others’ posts
  • Create a unit plan that requires blogging about their progress through the unit as well as reflection questions and requirements around embedding videos, linking to websites, and sharing their sources they use.
  • Encourage students to use Twitter to interact with experts. I’m not sure if this will be done through their personal Twitter accounts or if I will use my account to tweet on their behalf. If you have suggestions around this, please share!
  • Encourage parent interaction with their child’s blog so they can see what is going on in class.

My Idealistic Product

I would love for my students to Skype or instant message an expert in the field they are studying, or maybe even just someone who has been to one of the sites they will study but I am not positive that I will be able to make this happen. I am definitely going to try but don’t want to set the bar so high I will never attain it! (On a side note, the first societies we will look at are Egypt and Mesopotamia, if you know or are an expert, lets chat!)

On my way

The plotting…. I mean planning… begins. I have a bit of time as we have just started a unit that I would like to finish before implementing this project but the learning about blogging will likely start sooner than our actual unit of study.

Have you used blogs in your classroom? Where did you host them? Do you have any suggestions or know of any “experts”? Let me know in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Third Time’s the Charm

  1. Love your writing style, Kara! I used blog posts inside UR Courses with my students at the University of Regina for the first time this week; we are not allowed to use open resources (yet) with students attending the program I work for. It was a great experience. Since all classmates will read their posts, students were more careful with their writing and excited about the collaborative aspect of it. I am going to plan another lesson using this week’s posts by asking students to make comments on each other’s post. I am excited to read more about your project! I think it is an excellent idea! 🙂

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  2. Great post, Kara! I too intend to design and implement a open blog for my major digital project! It has always been an interest of mine, seeing that I love to blog. Perhaps we can collaborate sometime in the Zoom room sometime (I understand we are working individually on our projects but it is just an idea). Although I am on maternity leave, I’d still like to design an open classroom blog that I may use within the future. As for the blogging program, Alec had recommended I use Edublogs. So I went online and registered for a free blog. I chose the “classroom option” blog, where both the teacher and students can contribute to the same blog. I made this decision based on the idea that the students contributing to this blog are still in elementary. I’m not sure of you noticed in the Google+ community, but Alec had invited me (or anyone else) to send him your Edublogs user name and blog address and he would get us set up for a free professional account for a year, to try out. So, if your interested I’d email Alec. Best of luck Kara!

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    1. Kara

      Thanks for the tip, I will definitely take advantage of this! I agree, we should definitely set up a time in the Zoom room at some point to talk about our projects. I am going to have each student blog individually (I think, I’m still working out what I want this to look like) so it may be a little different than yours but maybe we can also integrate an opportunity to have our classes comment on each other!!

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  3. Hey Kara- I really liked your post. As an aside, what really got me started with the reading were your GIFs! Haha! So I will have to remember to use them in mine. I like the idea of a student blog, that sounds like a lot of fun for you and your students. I hope they enjoy this great project you thought up. And hopefully the parents respond as well. Bonus that you get to hit on the ideas of appropriate internet behaviour and posting along with curriculum!

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  4. Pingback: Digital Learning Project: Summary – Kara Taylor's Blog

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