This was my third weblog project with students. I worked with a group of fifth grade elementary students from J.H. House Elementary School in Conyers, GA. It was the 2004-2005 school year. I had a class blog, The Write Weblog & individual student blogs.
The focus for this weblog was to encourage writing as a meaning-making process and a tool for learning. Possibilities for writing/blogging include:
• what they are learning in their classrooms
• getting more involved in what they are studying so they can make real learning connections
• extend their knowledge on subjects of interest by using the internet
• ask and research questions they have plus pose questions for their audience
• make predictions about what they are learning
• have fun with language as they write about class activities
• review and reflect on books or texts read
• write about knowledge and facts learned in different ways
• use Bloom’s Taxonomy key words to help students expand their thinking and learning
The other important piece was to get the students to reflect on what they are doing and evaluate it. This helped them integrate and internalize the curriculum they were learning. It helped us as teachers to know what was getting through and what wasn’t.
The goal was to get students to connect what they are studying with the rest of their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Learning how to write to learn! Then they used the web to extend their learning.
Another goal was to use the comments feature by the students. They needed training and guidance to do this in a worthwhile manner. We worked at going beyond general statements and helping the students learn how to make interesting and helpful feedback. See this write-up about comment starters.
The core focus for this project was built around the Six Traits of Writing. They also commented back and forth with students who were in a technology class for education majors that I was teaching at Georgia State. They posted advice to these students about good teachers. Emphasis was placed on developing student voices. Students began to realize that they had an audience who cared about what they had to say. Writing/blogging began to take on meanings they had not previously experienced.
The blogging process was emphasized in this manner:
First, you read. Then you think about what you are reading. Then you begin to make connections about what you are thinking and what someone else is writing. Then you might decide to write about what you are reading and even do some linking yourself! And of course you are ALWAYS thinking and learning as you go!
Merging the blogging process with Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Six Traits of Writing proved to be an effective combination as this group shaped into quite a good little blogging group as evidenced by their end of year project, Blooming Bloggers. This project was put together entirely by the students and the content was taken from their learning throughout the year.
One other noteworthy item to mention was the power of comments for a student as seen in these two posts on Patrick’s blog. Patrick is one of the students in the group. This will touch your heart.
• Patrick’s passionate post about passing fifth grade (note the comments he receives)
• Patrick’s thank-you to those who commented to him