Blogging and the Daily Edit
Two on-going assignments in seventh grade are the independent reading blog and the Daily Edit.
I have this crazy idea that if I wants kids to value reading and to find books that they like, I need to make room in my curriculum for independent reading. So every other Monday we all read. Students can read whatever book they want. If they need a recommendation, in my classroom there are 1000 volumes to choose from; it is wall to wall books. This year I had a number of students choose to read using their iBooks app or their Kindle (device or app).
To get at what they thought about their reading, I had students blog about their books. This was generally successful. I used the google blogger platform because it is part of the google apps for education, and I could manage the “must be thirteen years old” terms of service issues that way. We used the BlogPress app, but it was not totally intuitive for students. They would write and then lose their work because they weren’t logged in. I need an app for them that clearly tells them when they are and are not logged in. Some of my students wouldn’t problem solve – it didn’t work, ergo I don’t need to do it. Sheesh.
In the past, I had students keep paper journals and I would read them at least once very four entries. With their blogs, I tried to read every post, but with 72 students I was unable to do that. I actually hit the wall and was unable to blog at all; I stopped writing in my own blog because I felt that I could not get to their writing. I feel like I should reply to each student, but that was unmanageable the way I approached it. And then I felt guilty because I did not do what I said I would do and comment on every post. I am so totally taking suggestions.
Some students completely embraced the idea of a group of friendly commenters. They had an active number of thoughtful commenters who read and replied to each other’s posts. It was very satisfying to see. I had some students who never commented on anyone’s blog, some students who never had anyone comment but me, and some students who did not post to their blogs at all. I needed a better way than google reader to keep track of who was doing what. I have been introduced to the Kidblog.org, and it has some of the class management features that I am looking for.
So blogs were successful enough for me to keep tweaking the assignment. I like that there is a real audience for their writing, and I loved hearing their writing voices emerge.
The Daily Edit was a huge success. Each day I would send a google form to my students. (I now know that I can have them create an app button for that form). Each day I wrote a sentence on the board that they corrected and submitted using the form. It was the first thing we did each lass period.
These answers populated a spreadsheet, and I was able to look at their edits by student and by sentence. I really got a sense of how they were developing as copy editors. We would talk abut copy editing strategies, consider possibilities, and ask “Why?”. I could watch them grow in confidence and capability. And no little piles of half sheets of paper to manage!!!
These are projects that I would not have tried without the iPad. Now it’s time to refine them for next year.
Suggestions? Apps? I’d love to make these assignments really work for my students.