One down.. many to go!

Blogging Communities in the Classroom: Creating Engaging Learning Experiences with Konrad Glogowski, University of Toronto (Canada) just concluded. Interesting session. I think I’m going to really get brave this fall and get my seniors blogging. I would seriously like to play Fantasy Congress with them if I can get my head around it – but that should be tied to a session on games & simulations, I suppose. Notes from this session are below. (Italics are my thoughts/comments as they happened.) Bottom line thought for me at the moment, I’m lucky for the moment as I’m teaching in a private school but evaluation is still huge. Why aren’t the legislators who pass the standards here? They should be.

The session was a good one – I’m glad I chose it

Grounded Theory = let them go & observe

Student participation necessitated a shift in teaching practices – they were happy with learning from each other and writing

3 steps:
1 – create a community 2 – extend classroom discourse 3 – redefine teacher presence

“If you have enough time to read everything they write, they are not writing enough”

Rule 1
Once blogging really gets going, it is impossible to keep up. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say to your student is just a comment e.g.”I really like the entry you wrote on hockey”

Rule 2
Stop marking, start reading as if you are reading a novel, as if you are reading what you choose to read, not reading as if you are reading because you’re paid to read them.

Make your classroom a “third place” where are people wanting to spend time? “The Third Place (Project for Public Spaces)

We need to encourage writing – extend classroom discourse – give them freedom to set up their blogs as desired (banners, widgets, etc) –

Sometimes students may not write a lot (they may quote things, etc) but they will demonstrate that they are reading (shouldn’t that be one of our goals too?)

Socialability (PPS = quality for public space) or people won’t go there. Role of teacher: give students freedom to allow them to interact with others who share similar gals. Suport these interactions and not just forcing them to interact all the time.

Accessibility – Online, need to promote everything that happens in our community, make it easy to access. Role of teacher: help everything be accessible.

Avoid school writing: voiceless & generic – specific guidelines – we teach guidelines first and expect students to follow (where is the value in the student’s opinion? – Writing is presented as a skill that is acquired and does not come from the self – teachers determine the content – school writing is always written for one purpose – most school writing is written by one person (who may or may not really care that much – how much do you really care about the writing you’re reading)… How much do students really care about the “Well done 16/20”? Why do we continue to do it? We do it thinking they will read and learn from our notes how to things right the next time. They are writing for the A. Well, then we force them to re-write, “that, of course, promotes ownership” (chuckle)
Rubrics – what do people really get out of that? (Where do the points between things go, anyway?) They have the potential for supporting the conversation but we don’t finish that. We hand back the rubric and move on.

A guy just came in– I got banged in head with his bag as he squished between the guy I’m sitting next to – no more wall to lean on, there is a network system plug behind me now – bummer and need Advil (you wanted to know that, didn’t you?)
Expressive Writing (Britton et al, 1975) Informal talk – Content over forum – language is used as a tool to shape meaning (the participants just played “typical class” asking the presenter to go back one slide as they weren’t done writing what was on it)

Example: quality family writing on problem – teacher would wonder what to do. The posting was made at 10pm, 8 kids commented by the next morning, more than 20 soon after that – and the teacher could verbally follow up, not worry.

E.g.: student posts angry post about being angry about being sent to boarding school which followed with a composition on control.

E.g. which has more power – students commenting and complementing each other’s work or the 16/20 from the teacher? There is still a place for the grade, but the peer comments are huge.

The traditional teacher voice is so limiting. Don’t be afraid to lose the “teacher voice” connect with the students.

It took this presenter almost a year to learn to respond to his students well – we have been trained to evaluate everything we see –

Challenges to teachers to make this work:
1. Instructional conversations –
Participate as a reader not an evaluator –

2. Show you’re human

3. make everyone feel heard

How to grow a blog – show a watering can “Evaluation sheet” show how full the can is based on how they are doing to “grow” their blogs (this was middle school students)

Stair cases show on the stairs where you see the student’s growth

Blog entry idea: Evaluation v standards

Dialog supercedes the lecture – Marshall McCluhan 1967
All existing school structures will disappear within the next century…

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