I would like to start this post by saying a huge THANK YOU! MERCI! GRACIAS! to the amazing Sue Waters who presented to our eci831 class the other night to discuss blogging: the ins and outs and how tos. I hope she is proud of all the ways we learned to make our blogs much more enticing and informative.
During Sue’s presentation, I was thinking about how to incorporate blogging into a major project I am currently working on in my division. This major project is also going to be my final project for this class. This post is basically my thoughts put to virtual paper so that I can begin a better outline. So what is this project?
At the end of last school year, my Superintendent asked a colleague and me to put together a presentation to give at the Grade 7-9 opening PD session for all Regina Public School middle years teachers. The presentation was about our inter-school novel study we did together.
Here is the summary of what we did. Scott Motlik teaches Gr. 7/8 French Immersion at my fromer school (so I know and taught all of his students) and I was teaching a Gr. 7/8 French Immersion class in the same district but at a different school. We decided to have our students read “Les Fantomes de Spiritwood” by Martine Noel-Maw together. We used the website twiducate.com to communicate together on questions Scott and I had posted.
Twiducate, as we sold it to students, is like Twitter for classrooms. But, in all reality, it is a closed chat room for only those invited and with an unlimited amount of characters. The three major reasons for choosing Twiducate are as follows:
1. Only those invited to the chat we allowed to post opinions. No concerns over outside individuals, or unknowns communicating with students.
2. Students do not need an email to access Twiducate. Teachers add them and Twiducate gives them a password to enter the site.
3. Teachers could disable the “Delete and Edit” functions for students. Therefore no worries about cyber-bullying. Once you posted, we know who posted what and when and only the teachers could remove it.
Scott and I split our classes in half so that I had half of his students and half of mine and he had the other half. Using Twiducate, we would post opinion questions about the chapters we were reading and the students would respond. They were able to discuss opinions with a different audience other then their usual classmates. They were also encouraged to reply to other student’s comments.
Halfway through the book we placed both classes on Twiducate at the same time to do a real time chat. The students made predictions about the ending, who their favourite characters are and whether they enjoy the book or not. Aside from the infrastructure woes (that is not a new problem in our schools), it went off without a hitch. But with it being a trial run, and with all the amazing feedback Scott and I received from our presentation, we both decided we need to do this bigger and better! But because I am no longer in a classroom I had to take on another role for this project.
Being in the library this year, I get to approach this project in a whole new perspective: that of an organizer and observer. So the first thing I did, I picked out a new novel: Les bas du pensionnat (Fatty Legs- en français) by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Next, I recruited some new classes- this year, it is 4 classes of Grade 7/8s in French Immersion in Regina Public Schools (next year- the World – insert evil laughter here). Lastly- call in a favour from my superintendent to find 4 subs for a 1/2 day so we can meet, plan, and take over the world! Well, meet and plan for now…
But as I listened to Sue talk about blogging and the fact that blogging is a great way to get students to be more reflective in their work, I want to incorporate blogging into this project. There is no problem convincing me, it may just be a matter of convincing the other teachers about it as well. And as I type this, Sue and I have been tweeting about this and she would like to help with this project! (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! – BIG WARM CANADIAN POLAR BEAR HUGS!)
www.sheknows.com by Whitney Coy
Anyway, to make a long blog short (oops, too late), I am getting very excited to get this project rolling. I have all the main people lined up, all my experts ready to roll and now I need to take on my role and organize! I welcome any comments and feedback about what you think of this project. And please, if you want more information about Twiducate or the Inter-school Novel Study, don’t hesitate to ask.
Sue said it is always good to incorporate a link in your blog for more information. So, here is a Leader-Post story about how a teacher in my school blogs with her Grade 1/2 class every week and has them tweet every day. And really, if they can do it, can’t we?
Thanks for the ear,
Rochelle (Soon to be ruler of the World)