Twiducate + Blogging + Inter-School Novel Study = One heck of a Project!

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?

Innovations in Education: Reading, Writing and Tweeting

Thanks for the ear,

Rochelle (Soon to be ruler of the World)

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4 thoughts on “Twiducate + Blogging + Inter-School Novel Study = One heck of a Project!

  1. Rochelle – I really enjoyed reading your post – your enthusiasm for the project is catching! I’m wondering what the blogging portion of the project will look like – will this be done publicly? You mentioned that you use Twiducate in part because it presents unknown people from interacting with students, so would you keep student blogs private (or password protected and accessible only to certain people) as well? I agree that there are many issues regarding student privacy and safety when using the Internet, but there’s also a whole lot to gain by opening student learning up to the whole world and inviting outside feedback.
    P.S. Your link to the Leaderpost article doesn’t seem to be showing up.

    • Hi Katia,
      Thank you for your comments! I will check in to that Leader-Post link! I too am struggling with the Blog portion! I love the idea of students writing for “the world” (seeing as this post took me 2 days to write) but I am also cognizant of the issues surrounding students and access from the outside world! That is why I am so thrilled to have Sue helping me with this project. Her expertise, insight and understanding of blogs is really going to be a great contribution to this project!

      Rochelle

  2. Hi Rochelle

    There is so many different ways you could approach this. You can also incorporate some cool media into the project. I could imagine a Storify might be very cool.

    Are you going to use a class blog or individual student blogs? Mrs Maley’s Class blog is an example of where the students publish posts only on the class blog – http://mrsmaley.edublogs.org/ (that is the blog mentioned in the article).

    Based on how you used Twiducate I’m assuming maybe a class blog only?

    Sue
    @suewaters

    • Hi Sue,
      Thank you for your suggestions and help! This is what I am struggling with. I would love to teach students about blogging and in the older elementary grades, this is a great way to start with Digital Citizenship but I also have to protect the students from outside influences (can you hear “Stranger Danger”!) I would love to give the students the independence of their own blog, but I think that makes me a hypocrite for why I use Twiducate over Twitter… Also, I have 4 classroom teachers that I have to make sure I get on board with the idea.

      Aren’t logistics fun…

      Rochelle

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