Thursday, February 20, 2014

Classroom Blog & the Development Of Our PLN

     This past week marked a milestone for my Grade 8 class: the completion of their third round of blogging. Each science class, my students take turns being the "Class Scribe" or "Blog Author" using these guidelines:

- Our first class scribe of the year volunteered
- Only the current scribe has the power to appoint the next scribe
- Everyone must have a turn before someone can post again
*This is a system I modified from a friend, Darren Kuropatwa, who has a lot of experience blogging in the classroom.

Now there are some exceptions to these guidelines:

- If a student wants to post an extra post (on a non-science day or in
  addition to the daily post), they may
     - I've had a few students blog about projects that they are working
       on or to ask questions
     - If you visit their blog, you'll notice that some students on the author
        list have posted up to six times already
- My students wanted to implement a weekly Mathlete Friday post
  where they post about anything they want (Math-related) during
  Friday's math class
     - Since this was their development, they take turns volunteering for
        this post and they blog about everything from reviews of math
        class to math cartoons and brain-teasers
     * Unfortunately, this weekly posting isn't as regular as we often
        miss Fridays due to holidays, PD days, and extra-curricular
        activities

_________________________________________________

     Since we have been blogging for almost six months, however, I wanted to help my students take their blog to the next level. Having started in September with many students not even knowing what a blog was, we spent our first term getting familiar with Blogger, formatting, referencing, publishing, etc. Now that the majority of my students are comfortable with those aspects, this image came to mind:
purposeful use of technology in the classroom, PLNs for students, developing your students personal learning networks, PLN in high school, PLC in high school
What Do You Want Kids To Do With Technology? (Accessed 2014). Uploaded by Bill Ferriter.
Available online at:http://blog.williamferriter.com
     I shared this image with my students and we began talking about the idea of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), an idea that was COMPLETELY new to them. After a lot of group discussion and a look at my PLN, we began to move from the idea of the classroom blog being used to share/document their learning  to the idea that they could use the classroom blog as a means to expand their learning beyond just our classroom.

     *Now an important thing about this whole thing is that this is EXACTLY what I knew we were doing the whole time, yet many of my students had never thought about this concept before. I thought this was interesting because it was an area of disconnect between us prior to this. I am happy I decided to formally bring this up.

     My students started talking about how they could use their blog post to:
- share ideas that they thought of during class
- learn more about a related topic that we don't necessarily talk about in class
- find answers from experts in their fields
- do research with people in other environments

     We also decided to create a living documentation of our PLN in the classroom. We started by adding in all of the elements of their current PLN and have been adding to it as the days go on. For example: students have been sharing their blog posts through their Twitter accounts and have added specific hashtags to their PLN poster so other students can follow them! I'm loving how students are taking accountability for their learning and recognizing that the tools that they are already utilizing can help them explore their educational interests.
purposeful use of technology in the classroom, PLNs for students, developing your students personal learning networks, PLN in high school, PLC in high school

     Here is one post my student made about our PLN plans, including his favourite PLN tool (hint: it is my favourite too)!

                               _________________________________________________

     Have you brought up the idea of PLNs with your students?
 Do you know of any student-friendly resources about PLNs (all I can find is more geared towards teachers and other professionals).

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