Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Begin at the Beginning: Paper-Blogging with your Students

When I first began blogging with my students I made several blunders. But I didn't get it back then. To put it simply I really thought blogging was going to be a transition from paper to on-screen writing and not much more.  I was excited about the possibility of sharing and showcasing student writing with family but never imagined the places we could go or the ways in which we might connect.

Actually it wasn't until I began a parallel journey myself as a blogger along with pursuing my Master's and  researching about this particular practice that I began to perceive the potential for blogging and other social media in education.  I became more and more intrigued by the notion that there were "new literacies" being made possible by moving from the static of the screen to active participation with the Internet -Web 2.0.  I began to realize something had to change and it had more to with why I was doing certain things than just the activities themselves.

It was through reading Will Richardson's books, including Learning on the Blog that I understood the necessity of moving out of my comfort zone, of "unlearning" so many things I had taken for granted, and from absorbing what so many terrific blogging teachers had to say that I began to realize the importance of connecting with others in purposeful ways.

Pernille Ripp has been a source of inspiration and information when it comes to using technology to blog. Posts such as this and this certainly supported my changed thinking!  And when I read about Kathy Cassidy's work with Grade one students I was further motivated to expand what we were doing.

Which leads me to "one mistake" I have learned from.  I believe it is essential that students understand much more than Internet safety; they need to learn, through modelling and practice, how to communicate with others in the many online forums they now access.  Paper blogging is one simple but powerful way to do that.

But first show them this video from Mrs. Yollis Grade threes!

They give great advice that students really pay attention to...after all it's coming from their peers!

Once you discuss what a quality comment looks like, create an anchor chart with your class for future reference. 

Then pass out the paper and the colouring supplies so students can create their own paper version of a blog. Mrs. Ripp has explained paper blogging so well, why invent the wheel? (Isn't the sharing an amazing part of all this connectedness!)  After all she got the idea from Mrs. McMillan who first heard it elsewhere!  Read her post on paper blogging.

So I have started again... this year, I think, on the right foot.  My Grade Fives have done a round of paper blogging before setting up blogs with Kidblog.   

Learning to comment meaningfully and respectfully starts at home.  Building that sense of the other, the reader, is made more real when students respond to people they know before considering their invisible audience.

Carrying on conversations through threads of comments, providing feedback to other people's posts, even engaging in polite disagreements, will happen more readily by engaging in this important first step.

Have you tried paper-blogging yet? 

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