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.
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
- As as opener, I’ll show Rachel Boyd’s Why Let Our Students Blog? which is hosted here on TeacherTube.
- We’ll then move on to an exploration of student blogging with an academic focus. We’ll visit several recent posts by classroom teacher Silvia Tolisano on her Langwitches blog – bringing away three ideas we could use tomorrow and responding to at least three student bloggers listed in her posts:
- 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