I just finished the first round with students where I used podcasts to help them proofread their writing on their blogs. I wanted to share the process.

The students wrote stories about photographs from Scotland. These photographs were the ones that Chris so kindly let me use. They were transferred from her Flickr pictures to a wiki. The students wrote their first draft and inserted the pictures. Their drafts needed lots of work. I mean lots of work. Once I get over my initial dismay at their lack of writing skills (which I am firmly convinced would be oh so much better if we gave them time to write – another story for another day), I just roll up my sleeves and decide the best place to start.

Teaching students proofreading is hard work or I guess I should say getting students to apply that learning is hard work. Elementary students like to zip through tasks and their idea of proofing is a quick glance. Many times though they just run out of time. The instructions were to have two windows open. They opened the podcast of their story on the class blog. They used their individual blogs to follow along. The first attempt had them here, there and everywhere. Some were mesmerized by the screen designs appearing on their podcast. Some did not even have their story up on the screen and some were off commenting. It’s hard to wait to answer those good comments. OK, time to regroup. I got everybody zeroed in on the task again. I suggested that they follow along with their finger lightly on the screen as they were listening. That helped. This time they got it but it requires really paying attention. This is a skill they have to practice. We suggested they listen again. They were willing. Then I worked one on one with a few and had them read it. Still, just like we do, they would read it as they had it in their mind, not on the blog. We persevered with this training. They were surprised at the errors.I can’t say they were wild about it at the time but they were fascinated with the podcasts and when I closed with letting the students each give “proofreading pointers” on the audio recorder they were tuned in. Here’s a sample. JhonnyProofreadingPointer.mp3 This was fun! Then they thought about it this week and some even brought in papers so they could edit their original papers. They were much better! In our discussion in class about the process I felt that they were beginning to get an understanding of how helpful this was.

I’ve never felt too successful at getting kids to proofread but this time I saw some lights going on. (Now if those lights will just stay lit for them to do that process by themselves 🙂 One thing that was apparent was that they were quite proud of their revisions. This is not something I would do with every piece but I think from time to time it will be a good tool to use. I plan to let them record for each other. It will be interesting to see how they do and how they like that. When they were doing their editing they used ideas and suggestions from people who had commented and given them pointers. I’m also finding it very interesting observing how they respond to the pointers. I also observed in class today many of them silently reading their revisions when they had completed it. Hooray! Then they began to blog some thank-you’s to their commenters. Our time ran out so that will be the first order of business next week.

I really love blogging with kids. They are my best teachers!