I have the great pleasure of working with Virginia Bowden at Tecumseh this year. Through her work with students participating in The District Gifted/Enrichment Seminars and my role as Computer prep teacher with the District MACC students, we have arrived at convergent inquiry interests. Thanks to the mentoring of Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser – through both Vancouver sessions and their book, Spirals of Inquiry, we are making our way along the path toward framing our inquiry question. When we first sat down to scan what was going on for our kids and the experiences we were providing, we came up with some similar experiences and perceptions.
Both of us were exploring how technology could be used to not just replicate tasks done offline but help students to apply their background knowledge, make connections and actually deepen student thinking and reflection. Yes, and spark their interests, passions, and develop writing skills! Providing the assignment or conveying information through interest focused blogs (ie. http://tecumsehcomputerwhiz.wordpress.com/) became very teacher focused and invited conversational (chat-like) responses and comments not doing much more than scratching the surface. Our hunch was that blogging could be a way to allow students to go deeper by pushing their thinking – either in reflective responses or the ability to engage their audience in their writing. The quest is to discover the route.
I’m wondering about how student choice over the theme of their blog will impact the investment in creating thoughtful blog posts? Virginia is thinking a lot about how much class time is required for students to be able to reflect on their day in a way that pushes them to use their higher order thinking skills? Both of us wonder how thoughtful comments from peers can extend thinking?
In order to teach students about blogging in a somewhat protected environment, Virginia started using Kidblog. We both now have our groups set up in classes so students can write their own blog posts and invited comments from classmates without it having to be moderated by the teacher or necessitate use of pseudonyms. We’re also exploring the privileges that are extended to parents and guests. Virginia is focusing on daily reflections of learning throughout the day. I am focusing on developing student voice and ability to engage their target audience into blogs that reflect their own interests. We’re both still considering where we are going with our learning and what our students need from us to use technology to extend their thinking in thoughtful ways..