I've been following NECC blogs and presentations pretty carefully over the past three days. With my Bloglines Notifier going off pretty regularly, it's been real easy to stay on top of much of the action, thanks to Technorati and those who tagged their posts.
I must say I'm disappointed and stumped not to have heard a single mention of Classblogmeister. I feel like I should have been there - I would have put out a great sales pitch. David Warlick, the genius behind this incredible tool, is moving right on, and rightly so, with those who are pushing the tech envelope in daring ways. And I think he may be a little shy about pushing hard on something he has personally developed.
I see people at NECC setting up free personal blogs, student blogs, and staff collaboration blogs - on Blogger and Wordpress. It will be interesting to see the expressions on faces of all these new bloggers when they get back to their school districts and find access to those sites are blocked. Lots are trying out Edublogs, but frankly, this system is not as stable as it should be, and I worry about the huge load being put on its server(s) - and it does not offer a controlled environment in which students can learn.
So here's my testimonial, my sales pitch for Classblogmeister. First, it's not blocked. Next, it offers TOTAL teacher approval before any student post or comment on a student post (take that, MySpace fear mongers). Teachers can leave online feedback for students to improve their writing (like if they want to get it published) that is hidden from public view. Next, it's free (thanks to David W's generosity). It also has a very active list on Yahoo! Groups for sharing and problem solving. Last, I have never, in 25 years of teaching, seen a more powerful classroom tool for motivating students to write. Nothing else even comes close. It is the perfect blogging tool for teachers.
So it absolutely stuns me that I hear so little mention of it. I should have put up a presentation at NECC. I've been asked to present regionally on this, but there is no money, either in my wallet or my school's to make that happen. So I'll continue to preach from this little corner. Maybe this would make a good topic for my first personal podcast - I'll have to think more about that one!
Anyone reading here who is looking for a safe blog for students, look no farther than Classblogmeister. It is especially suited for elementary and middle school aged children. Please be clear about this, students EACH HAVE THEIR OWN BLOGS. In my opinion, having students leave comments on a teacher's blog is NOT blogging, nor does that practice empower students to deal in any way with the reality they face when they go home and go online - which is part of the reason to start young, and at school. More importantly, it does not present a learning opportunity for writing.
My own experience using Classblogmeister with my third graders this year has been absolutely phenomenal. I'll close by leaving pointers to a few posts I have left on my year with them. I encourage the reading of all their blogs (oh, and they are still blogging this summer, even though school is out) at roomtwelve.com: