I recently reactivated a class blog called Third Grade Thoughts that I started last October. Between then and now my hope was that our students would be writing and managing our news on this site. Today I added photos of our recent field trip to a beautiful county park on the Potomac River. I also added a podcast of students making daily observations about their butterflies in various stages of their life cycle over the last two weeks. Prior to that, I added a podcast of our field trip and a lesson that kicked off our butterfly unit. Sounds productive but, I have a little teacher's guilt about it.
I didn't achieve my original goal to have students directly produce the blog. They are indirectly "writing" the blog by adding their voices in podcast form but... Okay, so I have hopes for next year. I spent about a month and a half on a language arts unit of study last quarter informally titled, "writing for the web." The writing objectives, drawn from our district and state objectives, were all geared toward publishing on a website. Our technology resource specialist co-taught some of the lessons. Our students had great ideas: a food column, a winners column, a games column, a favorite animals column, etc.
I loved these kid-centered themes and the kids mostly loved working on a team to produce a bit of the website. There was a lot of collateral learning on this project. I learned a lot about my students and how they work. I realized we have a lot of strong personalities who need lots of support to work on a team project like this. Students learned they have strong personalities and have to sometimes let go and work toward consensus. It's all good, but, this unit was much more time consuming than I expected. So, now after many weeks, after abandoning the student blog idea, and working to get in other reading and writing lessons, I have caved and put our news online, without student help. I don't like the idea. I am determined to work next year to help students get their own news online. In the meantime, student's voices on a couple of podcasts are helping me assuage my guilt and reconcile the fact that the blog is not as pure as I'd like it to be.