Sunday, June 24, 2007

Deja Vu on Blogging

As soon as I posted the previous entry about my students' comments on blogging, I checked out Karl Fisch's Fishbowl blog and found it remarkable how similar his students' and teachers' experiences are to those at my school. Good to know. And thanks to his team putting together this video, we can see and hear all the good things the folks in Colorado have been doing. There are two versions--a long and a short--here's the short. Enjoy!

Students Surveyed Said

My end-of-the-year survey of my seniors about their experiences with blogging for class are in. Many of the comments are perennial: "I liked seeing what others thought" and "The hardest thing was remembering to do it."

This year, because of the size of the course roster being nearly 100, I also received the comment that it was "overwhelming to read so many," not that it was mandatory to do so. But I felt that, too; so for next year I'm brainstorming new configurations. May be there could be several blogs on various approaches to literature.

Just about everyone, whether they liked or disliked it, felt they had gained something from the blog. "It helped me spellcheck and re-edit my writing," "It's public so people are more careful about what they say," "Reading different opinions," and "Gaining confidence in voicing our opinions."

One student felt that it was a way for students to copy other students ideas. I was wondering about this myself. What could be viewed as copying could also be modeling. I have learned more about blogging in three months by blogging than I have in three years administering the blog, simply by reading other blogs, coming up with entries on my own, and reading comments. Modeling from blogger to blogger can be a myopic inbreeding at times, but I have faith in the evolutionary urge to develop beyond what is familiar, comfortable territory. Sure we all look around and adopt styles and ideas from each other. Then something happens by accident or by intention, and with a jolt, we move the bus forward.

What was new this year in the survey responses was the answer to the question on whether they had heard of blogs before working with the class blog. Whereas last year it was a mixed response tending toward "no," this year was a resounding "yes."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Press on Our Classroom Blogging

We were delighted to receive some local press coverage for our work with blogs at our school. And I'm not using the editorial or royal "we" here--down the hall from my classroom Mike Bellini and Nicole Roth have been blogging with their students as well. While I've been having my English 12 Honors students blog, Mike has been working with English 9-1 classes, and Nikki has been working with English 9-2 students. The article appears in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Most notable are some of Nikki's findings in her doctoral work on the effects of blogging on her students' writing proficiency. Yes, bloggers seemed to not only write more, but better. The article made for a nice ending of the school year.