Jumping into a Blogging Adventure with My Students
About a month ago, I started blogging with my students. It all started out as small project. We were having our annual book fair at school. Its topic was “Newspapers and Sharing Good News”. Students were asked to write an article to share with everyone at school. Since I am always looking for ways to bring tech tools into my classes, I thought my students could write a blog post instead of a traditional news article. So I created “Sharing Good News”
You should have seen my students’ reaction when I told them about the project. I had never seen them so thrilled. Before starting our blog we had some lessons about blogging and netiquette. I couldn’t believe how eager to learn they were… To be honest, I never thought their response would be so amazing. All I could see were students excited about writing, excited about expanding our classroom walls and jumping into the blogosphere together. I didn’t have a blog at that time. Blogging was as new to me as it was to my students. I wanted to learn alongside, so I stepped my fears aside and embraced the adventure.
Every time I start a new project, I make sure to engage my students by connecting with them and making them aware that it’s not just a project, but our project. I carefully planned our welcome post – My students are always looking forward to hearing stories about Cookie, my cat. I also remembered how much my students enjoyed singing Waka-Waka by Shakira during the World Cup – All this led to a cute video which I included on the welcome post. I knew they would love it and it would inspire them right away.
I also sent a letter home inviting parents to jump on board too. I explained to them it would be very important for us if they got involved by reading and adding comments to the posts. I strongly believe school is not just administrators, teachers and kids. Parents should be part of their kids’ learning process too.
Everything was ready, now…We were just a few clicks away from our adventure.
The day we had waited for finally arrived and off we went to our computer lab. I was immensely surprised when I logged into our blogs and realized Aviva Dunsiger had already left us a comment. When I told my students we had received our first comment, their eyes glowed. They were eager to explore the blogging world… When I told them someone from Canada had sent it… They immediately started cheering, jumping, clapping! All I could see were happy, joyful kids; they felt so famous and proud.
Reading their posts for the first time was one of the most rewarding moments in my teaching career. They had done an awesome job. I knew each of them had given their best and I could see it in their writing. Not only had they written excellent stories but they had also written some beautiful and encouraging comments on each of their classmates’ stories. There were no best friends, no shy kids, no popular kids, no student was left apart. It wasn’t one blog, it was OUR blog.
Parents were really supportive and started commenting right away. What is more, many of them had extended the invitation to their relatives. We have even received comments from cousins, aunts, uncles living abroad! Thanks to my PLN and #comments4kids we got comments from all over the world. My students couldn’t believe their stories were being read everywhere. Their stories had an audience and that made a difference.
It had started out as one post project, but to my surprise my students came to me and said they wanted to keep writing; they didn’t like the idea of publishing just one post. I just couldn’t believe it…They were asking me to write! Of course, I immediately said yes. I felt it was an incredible opportunity for them to be exposed to the English language outside the classroom. I’m still amazed by them every day. They keep posting, they keep commenting. They feel important and this has also helped them gain confidence.
What happened with our blogs is way more than I could have ever imagined. A completely different air is breathed in our classroom now. You can breathe confidence, pride, happiness, fun, trust. When kids are motivated, when kids feel that an activity is meaningful they want to work, they want to learn! My students have connected with learning English differently. Not only have their writing and reading skills improved, but also their attitude in class. Blogging has created a more positive learning environment.
We must all be aware that learning has changed! We can’t pretend this is not happening. Students are used to using social media. Google, Facebook, online gaming, chatting is their reality. Connecting learning with their reality, building relationships and developing trust is a powerful combination. I’m absolutely convinced that if we want to encourage the love for learning this is the journey we should embrace. Quoting George Couros “Connections, Connections, Connections…It’s all about connections” Yes! That’s what matters. If we want to encourage the love for learning that is what we should focus on: connecting with our students, connecting with parents and connecting with our students’ learning…