Friday, February 20, 2009

To Blog or Not To Blog: Part 2

Sue Waters sent me To Konrad's blog on Assessment after I whined in my previous post about my student bloggers. Here is my comment on his blog. We've had a student blog for almost three years averaging about 50 bloggers a year. I teach gifted kids, many of them brilliant thinkers and writers albeit reluctant.

I decided that I wanted to see if I could get my kids into the blogging habit so before Winter Break I made blogging mandatory. I only see the kids once a week so they were to blog at home. There was a 'reward/punishment' system built in to the requirement. 95% of the kids blogged/commented every week. The quality varied from "State Assessments ( and why they are completely and utterly ridiculous)" to "My Last Basketball Game" to "Why Am I Addicted to Gummy Bears". Comments too ranged from profound and insightful to stupid. BUT we were blogging.

Several weeks ago I decided to drop the requirement and the posts and comments dropped off considerably. Now I'm rethinking my purpose and what the next step is--I just realized after reading your post that the lack of give and take commenting was more disappointing than 'silly' initial posts.

There was so much focus on getting the task done (required post) that there was not the level of reflecting and thinking I was trying to engage the kids in. Thanks for letting me think more about this here--I know I can contribute in a different way. I'll be thinking about that. This was my aHa!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Blog or Not To Blog: That is the Question

I'm struggling to find a balance between "requiring" so many blog posts a week, rewarding for posts, punishing for no posts or just letting it run its natural course. I made a huge effort to teach good blogging and good commenting and as long as I was requiring several posts a week I had a lot of participation--when I dropped the requirement, participation bottomed out.

I tried for two months to "make" everybody participate, I wanted to see if I could capture some kids who would not normally blog. I did capture a few, but mainly the bloggers are the girls who like to write. I get so furious at the laziness of kids, What to do? What to do?

RSS Feed: What Good Is It For Kids?

Live and learn left this comment on another post--I'll answer as best I can.
This must be a dumb question. WHY exactly do I want an RSS feed? What will my fourth students gain from it? Do you assign specific assignments based on the feed or is it just more info to expose them to? If you have time, this would be a great blog post for us newbies. If not, I understand!

RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication" and it is a format for bringing ever-changing news INTO you so you don't have to go OUT and look for it. It's especially helpful if you read a lot of blogs, instead of having to type in a URL or click an address from your favorites or go to your Delicious account, new posts from bloggers you read come INTO you on a "feed reader" (I use Bloglines) --you don't have to go OUT to find them. New feed comes in everyday. Here are the feeds we have coming into our blog.

So what does this do for kids? It can bring SAFE, up-to-date content into your feed reader, blog or website for your students to look at. The only reason I use it on my students' blog is so they can see some "news" or "interesting info" without having to waste the time searching for it. It's on the blog as possible prompts to encourage writing. Does every classroom need it? Hmmm--it you want to have control of what comes into your classroom via the internet then it's a great add. Let me know if I didn't explain that well enough and I'll try again.

PS Be sure to study the site before adding to your kids' reader--giving a kid access to it. News, like Newsweek, Time,New York Times, etc. sights might seem like a good idea but you have to deal with rapists, murders, carjacking, etc along with politics, weather and sports.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Doodle 4 Google Contest Is Back!!

The Doodle 4 Google Contest is back. See details below from the site. Last year our center had two state winners and the kids had a blast! Check it out, it is really fun. Be sure to supply plenty of templates!

… we use plants for electricity
… we make college free for everyone
… we give health insurance to all who need it
… we connect everyone by cell phone or computer

Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to play around with our homepage logo and see what new designs they come up with. This year we're inviting U.S. kids to join in the doodling fun, around the intriguing theme "What I Wish for the World."

These are exciting times and both our country and the world are on the brink of significant change. At Google we believe in thinking big, and dreaming big, and we can't think of anything more important than encouraging students to do the same.

Registration closes at 11:59:59 PM Pacific time on March 17, 2009 and entries are due by 11:59:59 PM Pacific time on March 31, 2009. Teachers, you'll find everything you need to get started on the Registration page. Only teachers or school employees should register. Parents or students who are interested should contact their teacher to register them.