Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Just another day

Today was an exhilarating and exhausting time in the classroom, blogging with my third graders. I send this chronology along because I think many do not realize the impact, both on the students and the teacher, of what is happening in some corners right now. This was my day:
  • Before I even leave for school, ten comments to student blogs come in. I approve them all quickly via email, hop on my bike, and get to school, huff, huff....
  • About half an hour before school starts, another six comments come in, one from a teacher at our school, and five from Gordon Brune's fifth graders (I make notes to tell my kids about all this)
  • The school day begins. Lots of business, the kids are hyped up very much, although we still have a couple weeks to go.... I tell them about the activity on their blogs, there is a lot of excitement, questions ("Did I get one?", etc). We talk about the obligation to respond in some way to comments (again!), review their options, and then I give half the class read/write time (30 min) on their blogs, and half the class does a math assignment. Later in the day we flip/flop.
  • During the day, my kids post twelve new blog articles. I approve ten of them, leave feedback for the rest... These blogs were not directed or assigned by me. I would say some of my kids are in a true writing frenzy, so postings were all over the place, from August's thoughtful I Hear Ya', to an anticipatory School from Jackson, to Hannah's wacky my golf ball named Larry! What teacher would not love this?
  • It's a regular day, in that we have math, reading groups, music, recess, lunch, art, journal writing, spelling, and so on...
  • During recess and my prep period, I have student news reporters from all classrooms come to my classroom to record news for the podcast version of the May Jr. Seahawk Newsletter - and record their thoughts about the school year for the PODCAST ONLY June edition - a first! (learned a lot in the process - more recording tomorrow)
  • During the day, my kids send countless comments to the blogs of their classmates, students around the world, teachers all over the place, and university folk - in response to the comments left on their own blogs. I do my best to screen/edit/help with all comments sent. (Teacher cringes at the thought of all the typos and misspellings missed!)
  • As I am writing this at home in the evening, two more comments come in. I approve them.

It amazes me how easily the teaching of my kids has become a round-the-clock proposition. This will sound horrific to some, but I look on it as a very exciting new way of thinking about education. I will still be teaching my third graders after school is out on June 22nd this year. I have told them I'll keep their blogs active (with their parents' OK) through the summer.

Everybody else seems to be in countdown mode, but I'm in this desperate "I've got so much more to show them and there isn't nearly enough time" mode.

Many, many thanks to those who have left comments for my kids!. It excites them, of course, to hear from people in different corners of our planet, but the end product that excites me the most is that they spend a good deal of time really reading and writing with purpose. With a purpose and will I have not seen in 25 years in the classroom.


Anonymous said...

What interests me about this post is the tangible similarity with my own classroom experience it describes.

I'm always glad when I see that the kids have commented/posted something that I didn't explicitly prompt. It never feels like extra work to me, more like finding gold nuggets in a bed of gravel I'm prospecting. Real engagement is exciting to see - especially as the year winds down. Hang in there, teacher.

Anonymous said...


You're an inspiration mate! Especially for a beginning teacher like myself!

I hope to get my students to contribute to their blog by writing posts the way your students are!

Michael Cridland
Year 6/7 Teacher
Brisbane, Australia

Anonymous said...

Another great post Mark. I'll probably have a similar one soon about my students' video project we just finished yesterday - which was good since it was our last day of school. I'm planning to start blogging with my students next year for reasons I'll discuss on my blog this summer - so I might try to pick your brain some.


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, I'll be trying to show the work of your class to mine as an inspiration next week. Your post is an inspiration to me, great day.

Anonymous said...

Hey mate, this is a great example of kids enjoying their school experience. What a great feeling it must be when you can see the kids enjoying their time in your class. Well done.... I commented on one students blog just to see the reaction when they see that they have a global audience.

Well Done,
Brett Moller

Cheryloakes50 said...

I am commenting this to you and Darren.
I feel the same way, there is a countdown and I am trying for a holding pattern. My students have not stopped their learning, I have not stopped teaching. We have 3rd and 4th graders participating in podcast reflections about NWEA online testing, refelctions on how they their Zoombini Island Odyssey Game and next Internet Safety.So much to do, so little time, but I'll continue on over the summer with my 3rd and 4th graders on their site. Whew! Put your goggles on and enjoy the ride.
Cheryl Oakes

Mark Ahlness said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note, folks. It is very rewarding to be in the company of like minded, and supportive people. I am doing my best to "do as I teach" with my third graders, i.e., leave replies when I get comments - or head over to commenters' blogs and respond in some way... but I'm afraid I am WAY behind! Working on it, huff, puff...