We've had a class blog for two years now. Starting 8C Happenings in 2013 was so exciting. Our learners were completely and utterly on board and practically fought each other to get blogposts up. We formed many connections and spent lots of time reading other blogs and writing comments. We took part in International and Aotearoa Quadblogging and other projects including the Global Read Aloud. In 2014, we did a Unit of Inquiry around digital citizenship and sharing in online spaces. The unit was called "Straight to the Blog" a title which was kind of a sad in- joke between those of us old enough to remember the "straight to the poolroom" quote from that classic piece of Australian cinema, The Castle. We got all classes in our team blogging and making global connections. We even started a New Zealand-wide kids' book chat on twitter via our blog. I had endless enthusiasm for blogging as a class.
This year, I've got to be honest, I don't seem to be able to rekindle that fire! I am not sure why this is but I think its because our blog has really become a sequence of recounts. There seems to be an absence of the higher level thinking that my girls are so great at. We are documenting the events that punctuate life in our classroom but I have this question in my head that I just can't shake.
I need to think back to my original learning intentions when we started our blog. I had three goals for 8C Happenings.
a) Document life in the classroom for our whanau
b) Flatten the classroom walls so we could connect with and learn alongside others
c) Develop our skills in writing in online spaces and maintaining an engaging blog
We are certainly working on Purpose A but I'm not sure parents and family members are reading it. When I surveyed parents via google form last year, I got a lot of mixed responses. Most loved it and checked that they would hate to see us abandon the blog but many confessed that rarely read it, even when I emailed out links. Hmmmmmm......how do I address this? How do you encourage parents to engage with your class blog? Any suggestions?
Purpose B is the one that I believe provides the greatest rewards and I always feel the greatest enthusiasm for blogging when we are right in the thick of connecting and forming relationships with classes around New Zealand and the world. I am deeply committed to giving constructive comments with wild abandon as a class; giving others feedback and helping others learn if we can. Our greatest challenge is time. I am wondering if the best way to give real impetus to commenting is to incorporate blog reading into our reading programme. I wonder if there is some way to bring blogs into the 40 Book Challenge? How do you make time for reading and commenting on blogs in your classroom? Is it timetabled? A Must-Do? Homework?
Purpose C brings in those ideas around blog management. My learners are good writers and can create posts with visual elements with independence. The challenge for me is to hand some of the initiative needed for blogging over to them. I don't want Liz (my co-teacher) and I to be the ones who initiate every post. The girls will blog at the drop of a hat if we ask them to but we need a better system for getting them to take charge. Do we need a job list around this? A daily reporter? A photographer? A videographer? A tweeter? Should a small team be blogging every day or just when there is a special event? (I am pretty sure I know your answer to this!) How do we get our posts out there for others to read? And how do we create posts that make others want to comment?
As you can see, I have highlighted my questions. I am really hoping to hear about the systems you have around blogging in your classroom. Our goal is that our blog will be more authentic and chronicle our thinking and learning, not just the "big ticket" events. I'm really hoping that this blog and your feedback will help recapture my blogging mojo!
Thanks in advance!