Last night I hosted the second annual Family Internet Night in my classroom. This is a real formal sounding name for families coming in and listening to me show and talk about our classroom blog - with some talk about safety. My presentation was heavy on potential and excitement, and lighter on the safety. I figure there are plenty of folks out there spreading fear - I choose to spread closeness and common sense.
Anyway, eight families showed up, about 25 people, and we went on for an hour. I talked for about half an hour, loosely following along with a PowerPoint presentation (link here soon). We then had a few minutes of Q&A (podcast to follow here soon). Finally, kids took their families over to computers and showed them the inner working of their blogs.
At that point, several kids just HAD to post new articles - or send comments to classmates. "Mr. Ahlness, I just sent in a comment! Can you look at it?" Over and over. So this was an incredible opportunity to show everybody - live - what the teacher sees when a blog is posted. And more importantly, it showed everybody - live, and on the projected screen of my laptop - how I dealt with blog postings. I opened my email program on my presentation laptop.
One blog was approved immediately. "It's there, Logan!" I hollered across the room. A couple of other kids I called up to my computer while I looked at their articles or comments in the database. This was very powerful. Remember, their parents are watching. So there I was, reading through their article, talking with the student at my side, asking them if they didn't think there might be a period somewhere in that long string of words.... Or if they knew that a particular word was spelled wrong - and then figuring it out with them. I was at the keyboard, teaching. My students were at my elbow, looking at the laptop and talking with me. And their parents and siblings saw it all on a big screen, in the middle a room full of excited conversations and aha's.
This is powerful stuff. This is NEW stuff. Oh my goodness, it is an exciting ride. I will do it again next Monday for families who could not come last night.