The original blog post can be found at [url]teacherstalkingshop.blogspot.com
Three Weeks into a 1:1 - Blogs, Motivation, and Being Swamped
The students and I are settling into everyone having a laptop and things are progressing at a remarkable rate, almost too remarkable at this point. Here's what I'm learning from my students and our experiences together:
--> Kicking it Old School - The conversations that were generated when the class started to view each other's blogs were informative in the sense that we wound up talking about classic skills and concepts that have always been a part of good writing. I had the kids gather around the whiteboard as I displayed student work on the big screen. It was funny to watch the kids squirm as their work was displayed live in class, despite the fact that we all already knew that our work was public. Something about having a live audience discuss your work in class created a really charged environment for our talk. One student author immediately noticed a spelling error when we went to his page. He turned to a friend and said "I need to fix that " before I even started talking about the need for proofreading. I overheard this and asked him why he felt he needed to edit the piece. His response was, "People can see it. I don't want people thinking I can't spell". Bingo! Now we're talking about audience. Another student said that it was fine to misspell words on a piece in which the author is just "goofing around" or doing a more "pointless" post. Pow! Now we're talking about purpose. Another student said that the background chosen for the blog (Hello Kitty wallpaper) let people know that the tone of their blog was more fun than serious. Yep! Now we're talking about tone. Audience, purpose and tone. Three important literary considerations all generated, and authentically considered, before I had even started to critique the student work officially. The shift to this kind of writing is pulling these concepts out of kids, rather than me spending 40 minutes a day trying to pour it into them.
--> Autonomy - Students are doing blog posts that I'm not assigning. Really, some of the best posts I read weren't done on my bequest. The kids are just eating up the ability to create products of their thought for an audience. It didn't take but a few days before I started noticing posts about ska music, family tea ceremonies, women's rights, and even an analysis of the Super Bowl, to start appearing. The writing on these posts is on par with the assignments I'm giving them, but they are choosing the content on their own. And all of this done knowing full well that these posts will probably not count towards their grade.
--> I'm swamped - I've gotta do something about the amount of feedback that this whole thing requires. Last week I gave out four different blog post assignments. If I comment on every student's post in the gradebook, as I'm trying to do, that means entering about 360 different feedback statements. I'm a dad, with an amazing wife that I like to hang out with, and friends, and a good book that I'm reading, and I just... can't... keep... up with all of the feedback. The students are being super patient with me as I wade through the huge digital stack of work that I need to get done, but I can only provide meaningful feedback if it's timely. Right now it isn't. I'd love any suggestions on how to save me from doing this basically 24/7. (Hence the lack of posts recently.) I know that there are people out there doing this kind of thing in the classroom, and I just need to connect with them to help me alleviate this problem.
--> Meta-cognition and Learning Out Loud - The best new strategy I've found is to be very honest about my own learning as we move through this process. I'm finding that the students and I are really benefiting from a constant discussion about process and skill acquisition. I'm very up-front with the students about the fact that I'm learning how to best teach them these days, and in turn, they are very patient as they encounter various, and numerous, obstacles in their attempts to access and create the information that they need. Aside from the obvious benefits to modeling learning, the actual human relationships in the room seem to have grown to a place of mutual respect and understanding based on a recognition that what we are doing is worthwhile to everyone involved. I can't say how proud I am of my students these days.
All views expressed in this forum are my own, and do not represent the views of Lakewood High School or Lakewood City Schools. I use this forum as a means to engage in conversation as an educator, and to learn from the community.