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How Blogging Has Enhanced My Parent Connection

These are insightful words about the merits of blogging, from a teacher whose writing inspires me. This is a really good read!

I didn’t think parents of my students would ever read my blog.  Why would they?  And yet, now that I have been blogging for four years I am often amazed at how often the parents of my students actually read what I write.  Not just on our classroom blog, but also on this blog; my personal one.  While there are many small benefits to this, it has also brought on a sense of responsibility to them.  I blog about my thoughts on their children, it is their children who inspire me, it is their children that urge me to change, reflect, and grow.  That heightened responsibility of how I represent our classroom and myself is only one of the things that has urged me to continue blogging and sharing.  With each of the blogs, there have been many other benefits.

Benefits of a Classroom Blog:

  • Parents know what is going…

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Of Blogs and Blogging…

 

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One of my goals this year was to see that each student in our school was set up with a blog and also to set each Grade up (Grades 4, 5 and 6) with a Grade blog which the teachers could share and take turns to post articles or photos to. Well, I can happily say that I have achieved these goals – and more. We even have a school library blog and a school sports blog going now!

For the students I decided to use the KidBlog.org platform because it is safe and secure and can be controlled by the teacher. It is a great stepping stone for future blogging. For the Grade blogs, Library and sports blogs I chose WordPress.com simply because it has served me well and I have found it easy to use.

I have to say, getting the students to blog has been a whole lot easier than getting the teachers to blog. Granted, they have more features on their blogs, which have at times, been trying for the teachers and frustration levels have been high on occasion (especially when the internet doesn’t play along and loading images takes much longer than anticipated – and you know how teachers are about their time). There have been highlights too, such as a teacher blogging via her laptop directly from camp, so the parents got the latest camp news hot off the press! The students, however, don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t worry as much about mistakes. They simply keep on trying until it works or they are satisfied with the result. We are now at the stage where the students are asking to blog, which is most encouraging! The learning curve has been a little more steep for the teachers, but we are definitely getting there. Having said this, it is difficult to keep the momentum going (my own blog is proof of this) and the teachers need reminders to blog and keep their students blogging. They seem to have difficulty in finding topics to blog about, but this will change over time and it will become more intuitive the longer they blog. I have tried to help by sending them ideas for blog posts and also links to further reading for blog posts.

I do believe blogging can play a very important role in the classroom and this is why I encourage our teachers to blog:

· It opens a window into a more personal aspect of your classroom life.

· It is another way of keeping in contact with your parents.

· It is a way of sharing information, content, links etc. with students and parents alike.

· It could be a showcase for student work, as well as a way in which to post homework.

· It is a method of reflecting on work done, learning that has taken place or places that have been visited etc.

· With a blog you can share news in a paperless way!

· Blogging encourages responses from parents, pupils and other visitors, so it is another way in which to engage in a conversation.

· If you keep at it, it could transform your teaching and be the link to technology use in your classroom.

I believe our students should blog for the following reasons:

· It teaches them to write for a wider audience, not just their teacher.

· They learn valuable skills such as proof reading.

· They learn how to react to comments in an informed manner and also how to write effective comments.

· A student blog could become an online portfolio of work done (something I am working towards).

· Student blogging forms an integral part of digital citizenship and makes up an important part of their digital footprint.

· It opens their worlds up, especially when they interact with other students from around the world.

· They have something that they can be proud of and which is accessible anywhere in the world.

Although the blogging has come along in fits and starts so far this year, I am positive that if we stick with it and keep making the effort, the students and teachers alike will see the value in it and we will go from strength to strength.

My Poor Neglected Blog…

I really have been scarce around here of late, especially if I look at my first post of the year in which I vowed to blog more often! BUT – that does not mean that I have not been blogging! In fact, I have been quite the busy bee over at Just iPadding Along, because our iPad project has kept me quite busy this year and much of my focus has been there. That said, there have been other things on the boil too and so I have had my work cut our for me.

In keeping with my aim to update and reinvigorate the happenings in our IT Centre, I have been exposing the teachers and children to new and exciting lessons and tools. We have used Google Earth quite extensively (there is still so much to learn), we have shown the children how to create Word Clouds (Wordle, Tagxedo), the students have created videos with PhotoStory and MovieMake, the Grade 4s created posters online using a nifty website called postermywall.com and the Grade 5s and 6s are learning how to use Prezi. I will also shortly be teaching the teachers and students how to blog (finally – I have been trying to get this off the ground for a while now).

Add into the mix my ongoing quest to make more global connections through Twitter (what an enjoyable journey this is), my weekly involvement in a new Twitter chat initiative called #edchatsa, launched by our principal (@artpreston) and launch of a #globalclassroom project (see my next post), you will understand that i have been “as busy as a bee”!

Ooohh… so many ideas… where to begin??

Yesterday’s ThinkQuest course was great in that it really got me thinking and now I have so many ideas going around in my head, I almost have a headache!! This is a regular problem I have, so baby steps it will be… I really enjoyed the course and LOVED looking at the library of past winners. Some wonderful work has been done and it is certainly inspiring. So, I’ve set myself up on ThinkQuest – let’s see what will grow from there. I also enjoyed the course because I met new people and was able to exchange ideas and pass on tips to help others – and gain tips too. Such gatherings of teachers are priceless and so worthwhile. I certainly did not mind giving up my Saturday. Thanks Fiona (Beal), and thank you for showing everyone my blog too – very kind of you! Now off to work I go, to put into practice what I saw yesterday…he he!!