Blogging through 2006-07: Intro
Blogging through 2006-07: Part 1
Blogging through 2006-07: Part 2
Blogging through 2006-07: Part 3
Blogging through 2006-07: Part 4
Written a month after the end of the school year, the series was my attempt to chronicle some of the high and low points of blogging with my third graders. My initial purpose was to provide a helpful guide to other teachers who wanted to maybe get some ideas or pointers about using blogs in an elementary school classroom. However, once I got started, I realized how useful it was going to be for me to go through the exercise, both in remembering and in planning. My focus changed then to highlighting what was most important to me. If it can still be a help to others, then great. A few ending thoughts:
- The numbers. By no means is this high statistics, but last night I wondered just how many posts I had written on my classroom blog this year versus last year - and then of course, how many posts the students in those classrooms had written. Even with multitude of variables in play here, I've done enough research and statistics to know that there are enough important variables in common to say there is something going on here:
2005-06 classroom blog:
Teacher posts - 56
Student posts - 340
2006-07 classroom blog:
Teacher posts - 29
Student posts - 711
Same number of students, same ages, same gender distribution, similar academic strengths, same number of computers in class. The 05-06 class started blogging one month later, but the 06-07 class still has a month and a half left for summer blogging. What does this mean? Well, it looks to me like the students wrote more, and the teacher wrote less. This is good :)
- Obstacles. I said in the Intro that this was the most frustrating year I've ever had using computers in my classroom. There were two big obstacles to being able to use the computers and the Internet they way (I think) they should have been used:
The Filter. I requested the unblocking of hundreds of sites - almost all of them wikis and blogs. I can't begin to calculate the hours spent, the frustrations felt, or the amount of wind taken out of my sails (and my kids'). Changes to the filter were made without notice, warning, or explanation. Access to educational content I wanted to use in my classroom or for professional growth was determined by noneducators. Bad enough, but when I was asked to justify - to noneducators - the educational purpose of access to certain sites, well... it was really hard to carry on at times. The lack of professional respect was incredibly discouraging.
My computers. I have 15 student computers in my classroom - all donated - and set up, maintained, and upgraded by me. This is the third year I've had them. Starting in the fall, permissions were changed. Access to network resources was changed. Client images were changed. Without my knowledge or permission. As with the filter, these changes were made without notice, warning, or explanation. As with the filter, if I wanted something returned to the way I had had it set up for over two years, I was asked - by noneducators - to justify the educational rationale for such a change. The net effect of all this was that my students were constantly having to go to different places on our LAN to find their work. It would change from day to day - and from one machine to another! Despite being administrator on all the machines, I was unable to fix or change even the most basic critical functions - like setting up a new printer. Countless hours spent trying to fix things, talking to people, begging for changes... no dice. It was an absolute nightmare.
- And yet... I'll do it again next year. No question. Yes, it's worth it. There is simply no more powerful tool we teachers can use to encourage and cultivate the literacy skills of our kids - than the blog. Next year I'll add wikis.