BlogWalker

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Blogging with 4th Graders

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Before the Winter Break, I introduced the 4th grade teachers in my EETT grant to blogs and blogging during a 3-hour whirlwind workshop. With only a week left before vacation, already several went “live” with their blogs and invited their students to post comments, noting that their students immediately took to blogging. One of the great things about introducing Web 2.0 tools is that kids like technology.

I am pretty sure that students who read and respond to blogs regularly – especially beyond the school day – are building their reading skills. But my EETT grant was funded based on my argument that students at three of my district’s lowest-performing elementary schools would improve their writing skills by integrating multi-modal, multimedia tools and strategies into the English/Language Arts program. The tools (blogs, podcasts, wikis, VoiceThread, and video editing) are only half of the program. Area 3 Writing Project Teacher Consultants are providing the other half: teacher-tested writing activities and strategies that have transformed writing in their own classrooms – and have helped raise scores on the 4th grade paper-and-pencil state writing assessment.

Technology is not a silver bullet. But if you combine powerful writing strategies – such as introducing emerging writers to the concept of strong verbs and prompting them, for example, to locate strong verbs in other bloggers’ posts and to respond with at least one strong verb – with Web 2.0 tools, then I predict this group of 4th graders will become better writers.

Over the break, I’ve been reading some outstanding posts by Silvia Tolisano, Kim Cofino, and Kevin Jarrett.

Drawing from many of the ideas and resources they’ve shared, here is my agenda for Tuesday’s EETT workshop:

Opening Session: Revisiting Blogs and Blogging

  • The Big Question: How can blogging help YOUR students?
  • End with my Sacto neighbor and thinking partner Alice Mercer’s video on Blogging with Students

Morning Workshop: Summary Writing – Facilitated by A3WP 4th grade teachers Angela Luna and Heather Koczian.

Afternoon Session = Podcasting for Absolute Beginners*

  • Start with a brief PowerPoint. I’m providing handouts for teachers to note how they will integrate podcasting – and summary writing – into their classrooms.
  • Introduce Audacity
  • Hands-on time for teachers to experiment with their first podcasts
  • End session with demo on podcasting from a cell phone via Gcast
  • Wrap Up – Sharing of ideas for incorporating podcasting – as a writing strategy – into the 4th grade curriculum.

*Note: I’ve posted links to podcasting tutorials and resources on ToolKit4BlogWalker.

As we move through this grant year, it is my hope that through access to powerful writing strategies and access to technology tools that provide authentic audience and authentic purpose, this group of 4th graders will experience academic growth – and excitement – and will add writing (most likely online writing) to their list of favorites.

Image copied from http://langwitches.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/blog-stickies.jpg

5 Comments

  1. Gail! Wonderful connecting with you over break. Good luck with your workshops! Your participants are in for a treat! -kj-

    • Kevin, besides an awesome group of teachers, my grant evaluator, Carl Whithaus, is the icing on the EETT cake. He is a young Ph.D at a nearby university, whose thesis was on digital writing. I’m really excited for the opportunity to move beyond anecdotal evidence on the value of Web 2.0 in the elementary language arts program to a research-based approach.

  2. Looking forward to hear about the outcome of your presentation. Would love to compare notes AFTER the blogging lessons with our elementary school students.

    • Thanks, Silvia. I really appreciate all the wonderful resources you’ve posted to your blog. Our next EETT session, following Tuesday’s summary writing/podcasting combo, will be response to literature/collaborative writing. I’ll be heading back to your blog for links to your VoiceThread resources.

  3. I’m excited to have found a fellow teacher blogger exploring blogging with students. I look forward to following your journey, learning alongside you.

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