Tuesday, May 20, 2008

student run blogs

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.


organized chaos said...

I have the same guilt about a student blog project I started, or rather, tried to start. I was so excited and had all sorts of big dreams for it, but finally I realized that it wouldn't be helping the kids with their goals, it would only be helping me with mine. It wasn't what they needed and so I had to let it go.
Your post made me feel better! I'm glad I'm not the only one who tried and didn't quite succeed.

Blink said...

OC-that is often what teaching is about... adjusting your instruction when you realize you aren't meeting the kids' needs. I guess I'm not unlike my students with the strong personalities who don't want to let go of their ideas!

GirlGriot said...

I can hear your frustration, but I can also see success in your student blog. Ok, the students didn't do the writing, but they generated all the material in a way, didn't they? That reads like success to me ... a good start toward what the blog can become.

I'm about to embark on a student writing/publishing project with my teens, and I'm really worried about it, nervous about how it will work out, so your post really resonates for me. I'm sorry I came to it a week late, but at the same time, this is really the perfect moment for me to be reading it.


Blink said...

GirlGriot- thanks for the encouragement and back at you in your endeavor with your writing project with your students! Keep us posted in how it turns out.