There are many, many pockets of excellence in classroom/student blogging out there. These blogs are driven, coached and nurtured by educators who “get it”. They get how blogging can make a difference in student learning, give them real world skills, support 21st century learning skills and literacies and at the same time basic reading and writing skills.
[insert a screeching sound of breaks] …then it STOPS!… Why?
The students move on from those teachers’ classes to the next grade level or school with a teacher who:
- has never heard of blogs (hence does not use them)
- sees blogs as an add on and too much work (Who has time to moderate and comment on so much student writing???)
- uses blog posts as a digital space to collect typed up homework assignments (Instead of a new writing genre, capable of multi-layers, higher order thinking/writing skills and multi-dimensional)
You can visibly see the engagement, ownership and learning curve when you look at pockets of excellence, such as Linda Yollis’ 2nd/3rd grade blog or Kathy Cassidy’s 1st grade classroom and student blogs. We can assess the learning taking place of a set of students (during one grade level) with a committed-to-quality-blogging teacher.
What we CAN’T do with pockets of excellence is to track and identify LONG TERM gains in blogging as a LEARNING PLATFORM. We need to find a way to create a school culture that values documentation, reflection sharing learning OVER TIME.
- Yokahama International Middle School (Grades 6-8), has laid the foundation with their student blogs for a CONTINUOUS effort to document, reflect and assess their students progress ACROSS time.
- George Couros on The Principal of Change blog wrote in a post titled 5 Reasons your Students Should Blog about his school division and effort to developing blogs as portfolios with their students. They are bringing blogs to approximately 10,000 students!
- Martin J. Gottllieb Day School in Florida has had student blogs since 2008.
How are they:
- coordinating efforts across grade levels to help teachers and students BUILD ON skills (ex. hyperlinked writing)
- continuing to weave a thread that CONNECTS reflections (ex. self-portraits art pieces with a reflective text/audio/video piece attached)
- giving evidence of learning at one particular moment in time and show growth ACROSS TIME (ex. presentation skills, math number sense, gross-motor skills, etc.)
Let’s look at a framework for teachers from Kindergarten to 8th grade, to make my own thinking visible in regards to classroom blogs and student blogfolios.
Each page addresses one grade level. Each grade level is divided into 2 main sections with the following subsections:
- classroom blog
- teacher responsibilities
- student responsibilities (on classroom blog)
- student blogfolios
- skills (new skills introduced at particular grade levels are highlighted in green)
- categories (trying to standardize categories to be used across grade levels. Ex. writing, reading, presentation, Science, Math, etc.)
- Reflection (examples of media that could be used to create a reflection in response to learning artifact)
- Examples of learning artifacts (Ex. Science fair presentation, About Me page, Self-portrait art work, visible thinking of solving a Math problem, etc.)
This framework was not created to be written in stone, but as a starting point for teachers to refer to, as they students are building skills of writing in digital spaces, become reflective learners and establish a positive digital footprint. It is meant to allow a progression of learning artifacts coupled with reflection paint a picture of each student’s learning journey throughout their school years. The framework is to guide teachers in providing a smooth transition from one grade level to another and ensure a continuation AND growth in skills.
You can also download the Blogfolios Framework as a PDF file.