We are into week three of our 20% Project and the students are working hard. I have students that are learning to cook, solving a Rubik’s Cube under three minutes, archery, smelting metal, learning sign language, raising money for charities, raising awareness about pollution and raising awareness about cruelty to animals. It is such a variety! A few of the students, however, have changed their mind about their topics. After this week, no topic changes can be made so that each student has a good amount of time to pursue their project and aim to complete all of their goals. This year is the first year where the students had a harder time coming up with their project choices and more have changed topics than in previous years. I am going to reflect on why this is happening and see what I can do about helping the students make their choices next year so that it is something they will stick with through the process.
Each week the students will blog their experience through the 20% Project. Last Friday (before spring break), I had the students begin to blog. It was a planning week for us so that the students could think about where they were headed and what they would accomplish each week. Because of this, I made the first blog optional. I want the students to click around and learn the Edublogs site (like I had to) as I think they will remember it more than if I just show them. It was a practice blog week. Those who have started blogging and are becoming more comfortable with the site can then become coaches in class to help others become more comfortable (if you teach it, you learn it better!). As they write more, they will get more comfortable with the site and their posting abilities (adding video, images, links, etc.).
I am eager to see if they will vlog instead of blog (posting their videos on their blogging site). It is a wonderful option so that students can include video clips of what they have been doing (if they are recording their progress this way) and so the audience can really get a feel for the student and their enthusiasm (or lack thereof if it was a rough week, LOL) for their project.
It is quite a lot of reading, once all of the students get going for real on recording their experiences, but I love it and it is an awesome way to keep track of where they are and offer them feedback. Edublogs.org does make it nice and easy through their “reader” so that all the posts and comments are all on one screen and you can just fly through the posts (grade them) and publish them (if you have chosen to monitor postings as the teacher).
A HUGE thank you to all who are following the students and providing them that authentic audience. I know they will be excited to hear from you! 🙂
My best friend, who is doing this project with her students at her school, got the kids into their blogging last Friday. It was the first time so she had them put in the magical code so they could join her class. Then they started typing away and logging their thoughts and feelings, accomplishments, struggles and plans for the next time. So awesome!
I love using Kidblog with my students as it is quite user friendly and they are able to navigate it quite easily. I also love it because all posts and comments MUST be approved by the teacher before they can be live for the readers of the world! For a mere $5 a month (cheaper if you pay for the whole year at once), more students can blog and more blogs can be written as you are provided with more server space. Also, students can choose their own theme to make their page more theirs. Here’s a link that gives you the breakdown for the pricing.
The code that I referred to above is genius. Once you have created your class, you go to your settings, get the magical code and when the students want to create their account, they just put that in after they click on the “Students” button. They are automatically connected to you and your class blog without any hassle. Of course, they need to create their screen name (I encourage nicknames or just first names only for security) and choose a password that they will remember. Kidblog is also linked with Google, so if your school uses Google they can create their profile with that. We do have accounts with Google here in my district, but I like that they get to choose their screen nickname and/or just put in their first name. 🙂
Get out there and write and have your students write! Happy blogging!