How Will I Orchestrate It This Time?

1/04/2006 08:46:00 pm

The way blogging fits into my instructional design has undergone dramatic changes between last semester and this one.

Here is a comparative list:

Winter 2005 Fall 2005
I post links to reviews, instructive animations and quizzes.

I post blogging prompts often using images from flickr.

Students post reflections on their learning.

I had students do a Muddiest Point exercise on the blog once.

I post links to reviews, instructive animations and quizzes.

I occasionally post blogging prompts. Not using images from flickr often enough.

Students post reflections on their learning.

We've done a few Muddiest Point exercises.

I've been more explicit about ethical blogging and internet use.

Students post links to reviews and other learning resources in the boxes.

Students (and occasionally me) interact in the chatboxes. They often help each other out with homework.

Students write a scribe post for each class every day — this has morphed into them essentially writing the textbook for the class in their own words.

My AP Calculus class is using blogs to write their own digital story.

Students have the option of writing an acrostic instead of a Blogging on Blogging reflective post.

Students have the option of editing the textbook instead of writing a reflective post — this is another way to get them to reflect on their learning. ;-)

I've used the blog to have the students communicate with a substitute teacher before a class I was away from.

I've also used the blog to give an online class when I was away.

I've got them learning problem solving by playing games I post to the blog each Sunday.

Just before the holiday break I added a Visitor Map to each blog.

Now this wasn't all part of the plan back in September; the students pushed me and I added the functionality of chatboxes. Other teacher bloggers shared their work and frustrations, pushed me and gave me ideas. The students have really picked up on the pull vrs. push idea of learning. (One of them said so explicitly [Kristin_R].)

But all of this evolved over the course of our learning together. I'm wondering how I'm going to orchestrate it with my three new classes beginning in February. Here's what I'm thinking ...

Day 1: Discuss Sysiphus. The scribe posts begin.

Week 2: The chatboxes appear.
(Should I wait this long?)

Week 3: Begin digital story assignment with a larger class; students work in groups of 2 or 3. Deadlines must be VERY firm.
(Will this work?)

Week 4: Begin instructional video assignment. Make the deadline flexible to accommodate different groups having access to the equipment.
(I'm anxious about this one.)

Week 6: The boxes appear.
(Is this too soon?)

Week 9: The Editor's Initiative is introduced.
(This should be about half way through the course.)

Week 12: The acrostic post is introduced.
(Should I wait a little longer for this?)

I want to introduce the students to these tools carefully so as not to overwhelm them. Of course this "measured" introduction of tools may be too slow; some of them will have "graduated" from my classes this semester and may demand access to the entire suite of tools immediately — an interesting "problem" to have. ;-)

Looking back, that's an incredible amount of growth in they way I'm using read/write tools with my classes! And I've made no mention of a wiki idea I'm still playing around with. I wonder what the saturation point is? How much is too much? It looks like I'm doing a lot but actually I'm not — the kids are! It'll be interesting to see what changes and growth come out of working with 3 new classes of students. Many of them will be expecting the blog because it's become common knowledge in the school about what's going on in mine and Erin's classes. Some students have begun asking their teachers to start blogs for their classes. I know of a few teachers in my school and one of our feeder schools that have already created blogs for the new year. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see them.)

I think 2005 was the year of the blog. 2006 is shaping up to be the year of the edublog. ;-)

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  1. Darren,

    I really appreciate you sharing your thinking about blogging through this blog. You are really helping me to decide how to structure blogs for my students. We began a new semester yesterday, and I am planning to begin a blog for my advanced class (7th grade math team). Every student has internet access at home, so one concern has been laid to rest. Now I am planning how to explain what we are doing to their parents. I was feeling confident that this was extremely safe until I did some reading last night (maybe from some of your links?) that made the worst-case scenarios for blogging sound pretty bad. I hope you don't mind if I use your class blogs as an example of what I am trying to do. Thank you so much for all you are doing for students!

  2. Anonymous6/1/06 03:36

    I don't know if I would be overly concerned about the worst case scenarios — after all, they're worst case scenarios. I'd suggest focusing your energies on "building a community of learners." Emphasize appropriate behaviour explicity, in class and on the blog. Encourage the parents to participate via the blog too. If you have a community working together towards a common goal (learning) then anyone who does something foolish will be seen as a fool. I really think that transparency is the key to addressing many of the worst case scenarios that people have been talking about.

    You might also find it helpful to read through the links in this post from my OLÉ workshop. Also, spend some time at Bud's Blogging Wiki.

    I've been thinking a lot about involving parents more in the blog. I've been doing some informal surveying. Watch this space in the next few weeks to see what I've come up with. ;-)