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Jumping into a Blogging Adventure with My Students

September 29, 2010

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 CourosConnections, 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…

40 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 11:32 am

    Greta, what an amazing description of how sharing through a blog can not only motivate students, but change their perception of writing.

    I really think that publishing work online without being noticed by others kills the internal drive to share. When my students publish work that only I notice, there is little interest in continuing. It becomes just another way of turning in work. When my students receive comments from people other than me it makes a real difference.

    I have a student this year that does not enjoy school. He has been a problem in classrooms because of his attitude through lack of success. He posted an assignment on our class group that was commented on by pre-service teachers from the state of Alabama. The post was poorly written with bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The positive comments he received about the content of the post made him smile and he wanted to track back to the commenter’s blog and leave a thank you. I don’t think this kid has thanked anyone at school before!

    While your entire class is really enjoying blogging, it is the small victories that I receive from it that makes it worthwhile for me.

    • October 1, 2010 10:22 am

      Thanks so much for your comment! Blogging with students is an experience. I agree with you having an audience is what makes the difference.
      Thank you for sharing your student’s story with me. Please let me know his blog address so I can leave him a comment. I think having an audience also helps students build confidence, I’m sure he’ll keep on making progress.
      I want to thank you for being so supportive and encouraging too. If my class is enjoying blogging it’s also thanks to you.

  2. September 29, 2010 12:53 pm

    Greta, I absolutely love your blog post and I love what you’ve done with blogging too! You’ve really motivated students to write, and I think that this is what blogging is all about. Your students are lucky to have a teacher that is so willing to try new things and do everything possible to ensure that all students succeed!

    Thanks for the mention, Greta! I’m thrilled to have you as part of my PLN!
    Aviva

    • October 1, 2010 10:24 am

      Thanks so much Aviva! I really appreciate your kind words.
      You’re so important in this adventure. Every student in my class knows about you. They adore you!
      I love having you in my PLN too. Thanks so much!!

  3. m_yam permalink
    September 29, 2010 3:12 pm

    Congratulations Greata! You and your students are awesome!! I can just see how happy and thrilled the kids were when they knew they had an audience outside the classroom, and when they asked you to write more!

    You’re doing an excellent job, Greata. You’ve given them a wonderful jumping board to the world new to them, creating an engaging learning place and involving parentes and people around the world. And you trust your students that they can do a great job. You’ve made me realize that sometimes I might be too protective or worried – “Could they do this?” – and reminded me that every student can achieve a lot when they enjoy trying and learning, through connecting and sharing with others.

    • October 1, 2010 10:33 am

      Thanks so much Mari! I really appreciate your feedback! What you said is so true… “every student can achieve a lot when they enjoy trying and learning, through connecting and sharing with others. I think this helps students find learning meaningful. It makes a difference for them and it also helps them build confidence.
      Thanks again Mari! Love having you in my PLN!

  4. September 29, 2010 4:29 pm

    Greta, I have tears in my eyes reading this post. Every administrator and teacher who wonders what this social media thing is all about needs to read your blog post. You have captured it beautifully! I love the line “it wasn’t one blog, it was our blog”. That is a huge step in classroom collaboration and teamwork. Thank you for sharing this story. It is an important one!

    • October 1, 2010 10:47 am

      Wow Kelly thanks! That means a lot coming from an awesome educator like you. I always work really hard to make my students aware that is not the class, but our class. I think that’s really important if we want a positive learning environment in our classroom. Social media has definitely made a difference for my students!
      Thanks again Kelly!

  5. September 29, 2010 7:21 pm

    Greta,

    You make a very strong case as to why blogging is so important. You clearly lay out the steps you took when you started this project with your class. Your strategies can be replicated by anyone who is interested in doing the same. The excitement that your students feel when they post a blog and when they get a response to their post is priceless. The fact that they want to write more is a dream come true for a teacher. What a wonderful way for them to be connected to the world and practice English at the same time. The comments that you make on their blogs are always positive, but in true teacher fashion, through your questions, you encourage them to dig deeper and to add detail to their writing. The fact that you write a blog models best practices for them and shows them that you are a learner as well as a teacber. Involving parents is critical and having them actually see what their children are producing is a great way for them to understand what and how their children are learning. I think that you covered all of the bases. As usual, kudos to you for a great post

    • October 1, 2010 10:54 am

      Wow Gail! I’m speechless! Thanks so much for your feedback. It means a lot to me. You’re one of the most amazing people I’ve met on twitter. You’re always encouraging and inspiring me to go for more! You’re also part of our adventure. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my students’ blogs every day! You’re wonderful.

  6. marisapavan permalink
    September 29, 2010 7:22 pm

    What an interesting experience, Greta! How resourceful of you to motivate your students to connect learning to their daily lives by blogging! Congratulations!
    Marisa

    • October 1, 2010 10:54 am

      Thanks Marisa! I really appreciate your kind words! It’s so important to motivate our students, it definitely makes a difference! Thanks again!

  7. September 29, 2010 9:06 pm

    Happy birthday Greta! I love reading your students’ blogs. They have such a voice and I love that their enthusiasm for blogging and their love for you as their teacher pours out from their posts! You have done amazing work with your students and are making a great impact on their lives. Thank you for all you do! It’s inspiring!

    • October 1, 2010 10:57 am

      Thank you so much Shelly! It means a lot coming from an inspiring educator like you. I’ve learned so much from you. Thanks for being so supportive and encouraging!

  8. September 29, 2010 10:31 pm

    This is working so well for your class because it’s outside the box. I’m guessing none of your students would call this “writing” when asked what they are doing with the web site. Sly maneuver, my friend.

    I may try to get my kids started on a photo blog…will be seeking your input and help, for sure.

    Keep this up, it’s a great real life skill and you may be inspiring the next important blogger.

    • October 1, 2010 11:01 am

      Thanks so much Matt! I appreciate your kind words! My students don’t feel this is “writing” but to my surprise they have realized themselves it’s the blog that has helped them improved their writing skills. I was totally surprised when they said this to me the other day…
      A photo blog sounds awesome. I’ll be glad to help!
      Thanks a lot!!

  9. September 30, 2010 1:48 am

    Greta,
    So great to hear that blogging is still going so well for your students. My first graders started their first blog today. We had visitors from Hong Kong and I decided to use that event to get us started. I couldn’t believe how easily the students were able to get their ideas down on their blog. I saw the same excitement you described. One student asked, “Can I do this at home too?’ You have to love it!!

    I have been blogging for about 6 months and love it for so many reasons. However, I’m not sure I would have tried it with my first graders if it weren’t for you, Aviva, Katie D., and others in my PLN who so bravely forged ahead and inspired me to give it a try. As usual, my first graders stepped up to the challenge and proved, once again, they can really do anything.

    Thanks, Greta!
    Cathy

    • October 1, 2010 11:14 am

      Thank you for sharing your story with me Cathy! I’m so glad you jumped into blogging with your first graders. It’s my PLN that inspired me to start too… It’s amazing how powerful a PLN can be…
      I loved your story! Blogging is meaningful for our students. When students are motivated to learn they do amazing things!
      Thanks again Cathy! I’m so glad you’re part of my PLN!

  10. September 30, 2010 6:40 am

    That’s an amazing story Greta – how inspiring! How fantastic that the kids are so enthused and excited! Its so great that they have clearly put their heart and soul into their blogging and that they can share that with each other and their families. It just goes to show how well tools that are sometimes overlooked in education can be used to change students’ perspective on writing and motivate them so thoroughly!

    Congratulations,

    Jo.

    • October 1, 2010 12:02 pm

      Thanks so much Jo! I agree with you! These tools can be used in so many meaningful ways. I think that by sharing what we do and the great things that can be done, we can make other educators aware of how great social media can be. Thanks again for your kind words!

  11. September 30, 2010 9:13 pm

    Hi Greta,

    What an interesting and inspiring post! Needless to say, that you and your students are doing a great job! Most important is that we can feel the love and connection you have with them. You also inspired me to start a project with my EFL students. Your students, write pretty well, remember that I’ve asked you if they were at advanced level. I like to read and make comments at their posts. You’re such an inspiring teacher!
    Congratulations!

    Lu Podschun, Brazil
    @inglesinteract

    • October 1, 2010 12:05 pm

      Thanks so much Lu! I really appreciate all your support! and kind words! I’m so glad you started blogging with your students. I’m sure they’ll be doing great things! Please let me know how it goes! Thanks again!

  12. brandy75 permalink
    October 1, 2010 12:11 am

    Greta,
    You captured the feelings of your students so perfectly. An amazing way to reach out to others with their powerful words. I have always enjoyed reading their individual blogs, you have truly talented students.
    Thanks so much for sharing your adventure.
    JoAnn

    • October 1, 2010 12:38 pm

      Thanks JoAnn! It really means a lot. You’re part of this adventure too! We really appreciate your comments! Getting comments makes the difference. My students keep suprising me! I’m so lucky to be their teacher! Thanks so much!

  13. September 7, 2011 5:05 pm

    This is such an amazing idea to get students involved and excited about learning! I’ve never heard of such a fun project. I checked out your students’ blogs and you can tell they love writing. Keep up the good work!

  14. February 22, 2013 3:13 pm

    Right here is the right webpage for anybody who wants to understand this topic.
    You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a subject that’s been written about for a long time. Great stuff, just wonderful!

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