Student Voices

Oops, I missed Activity 4 as this is Activity 5 of the Teacher Challenge Blogging with students. Maybe I’ll get back to 4 one day. But as it is, I’ve been mulling over whether or not to do this post as I struggled with inspiration. I think I’ve got my mojo for now so best to let it flow.

Looking at the winners of the 2010 Edublogs Award for class blogs, two things were immediately obvious (1) students contributed and (2) teachers facilitated and moderated (as well as contributed, of course).  For this little bit more, I’m honing in on the Blog Dogs – catchy name, yeah?

Student Contributions

BlogDogsIt is not unusual for class blogs to allow students to contribute via blog posts, with or without pictures. In the Blog Dogs (Year 3s at that!), students have videos posted up. The picture on the right is a snapshot of one such video where Simone and Patrick explain and demonstrate addition. Frankly (as a maths teacher), I shudder to think how such an explanation can be done as a text-based post, even with photos.

I think a multi-modal approach to air student voices encourages creativity as well as provide multiple avenues for expression. Surely that’s a good thing.

Teacher Moderation

Part of moderation is certainly looking at what’s appropriate prior to publishing a post. Even better is to publish the guidelines used for appropriateness.  I like that the Blog Dogs have their blogging rules prominently displayed and pitched perfectly (in my opinion, anyway). AND, there are examples

– Never post your full name or the full name of others – only first names

– Never post any details about where you might live: eg) “Hi I’m Mitch and I live in Smith Street, Smithville” – BAD.

“Hi I’m Mitch and I live in Epping/NSW” – GOOD.

I would probably format the text for ease-of-reading but the content itself is exemplary. I have a very strong hunch that the teacher has gone over the rules with the class plenty of times and modeled application accordingly.

In summary….

For students to successfully engage in class blogs, there are 3 key factors (yes, it’s a list…again…)

  1. Encourage multi-modal contributions
  2. Moderate contributions. Give feedback as appropriate, positive and negative
  3. Have rules and use them

I probably missed other important factors but I reckon if you have the 3 above, you’re well on your way to a successful class blogs (award-winning or not).

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5 thoughts on “Student Voices

  1. mrsratzelsclass says:

    Dear Mayln,
    I agree with your three factors. In addition to your #1 idea, I’ve found that I need to do quite a bit of prewriting with students if I’m expecting them to post about classroom content. If they’re writing about their own interests or ideas, not so much.

    But if I expect them to blog about science or social studies, I do a graphic organizer (at least) about what the post needs to cover, what writing techniques I should see (sequence, description, transition words, etc etc etc) and have them establish one goal they’ll demonstrate in their writing style. This has led to dramatically improved blog posts for my class.

    Thanks for these ideas. I like the straight aheadness of them and they would be easy for students to incorporate into their blogging practices.

    Mrs. R
    http://lmsblogs.org

    • malyn says:

      Hi Mrs R,

      I just read your award winning post on the effects of blogging. Your students are obviously aware and appreciative.

      You are so right on your additional points.
      (1) We find it easier to write – and talk – about things that we are passionate about. A good way to enthuse reluctant bloggers is to get them focusing on what they like first
      (2) Teachers need to provide guidance. Educators are facilitators of learning and there are structures we can put in place to do just that – graphic organizer, leading questions, goal-setting, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      cheers,
      Malyn

  2. mrsjwilson says:

    Thanks for another great post, Malyn. I have certainly been struggling with where to go with this one. I like the idea of having students contribute to the class blog, but I’m just not sure where to start since all of my kids already have their own blogs to use for their portfolios. I definitely have a few kids who would do really well as contributors to the class blog. I’m still mulling over how I can best make this work.

    Do you have any suggestions? Here is my class blog.

    Thanks! Janelle

  3. malyn says:

    Hi Janelle,

    I think class blogs serve a different purpose from individual student blogs. I’m not sure I’d have the two going concurrently as moderating both would be too time-consuming. So, definitely think what your aims are and then decide which one to go for.

    With your current setup, perhaps you can choose exemplary student posts and re-post on the class blog. This is useful particularly if you have more traffic on the latter. This could also raise the bar for student posts in general. Try to be multi-modal as it is possible that those not so good at writing may be better at videos. If you get multiple really good ones on one topic, you can have a compilation post with a link to all those. Another benefit of this is your reading of student blogs is evident.

    I hope this helps.

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