I am truly lucky to work at a school with amazing resources. I had been a public school teacher for 6 years prior to taking my current job in a private school. I use to think technology integration was teaching fun lessons on my SmartBoard and having the kids do a "listen to reading" station (starfall.com) on my 3 ancient desktops. Due to lack of funding in public schools, I know that is still the case in many schools, so that is why I count myself lucky and grateful! My current class has 2 Apple Desktops and 10 iPads available to my students daily. We share the laptops with our kindergarten buddies, but they are still available most days with some creative scheduling (those iPads get around).
With my new access to these "tech" resources daily, I started this year with a complete open mind about where my technology integration path would lead. I decided to take a "just try it" attitude towards the flood of new apps and programs I was being introduced too. This attitude has lead to many moments in the edtech trenches and some pretty cool triumphs.
Kidblogging was something I didn't really start with any expectations. Liz, our technology resource teacher (who is amazing by the way), mentioned it in one of our meetings and I decided to "just try it". I downloaded the app on my personal iPad, played with it, and then decided to introduce it to the kids. I did my "technology teach-to's" about the program and walked them through how to type, capitalize, add media, and publish. After a few mini-lessons, we tried it in class with pretty unremarkable results. The kids didn't seem that into it. They didn't like all the typing and seemed to get frustrated easily when trying to add media, but we revisited it a couple times as a way to reflect on some class events. I would share their blogs on the Promethean and we would move on. Like I said, unremarkable!! Then Spring Break happened...
(Pictured below is the super simple login process for Kidblog. We created easy to remember passwords for the kids and the usernames were just their names attached to "shark" since we are The Sharks)
Over Spring Break, I wanted to interact with the kids as they went on their vacation adventures. We live on an island in the middle of the pacific, so many families fly to other countries or the mainland on our breaks. We had been doing "dialogue journaling" with the children in class prior to break. They would write to me in their writer's notebook and then I would respond back. I figured we could just do the same thing, but with the blog. I told them to try to blog one time over break about what they were up to (I sent parents download and login information) and I would respond. I didn't think much about it. We took Pickle on a trip to Maui and I actually succeeded in not thinking about school for 7 whole days. On the Saturday before we returned, I went to check their blogs and shrieked out loud (Derrick is use to it after 5 years together so no big deal). BLOGGING TOOK ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN. The key to the Spring Break Blogging Breakthrough (that is what I just decided to call it) was the kids figuring out that they could comment on each other's adventures. It turned out that a comment from the teacher is cool but a comment from your friend is like DOUBLE COOL!! It truly was adorable.
Blogging took off because kids wanted to share and be heard by their friends. It gave them ownership of a technological voice. They spent more time writing with details. They added media such as pictures, videos, and even songs. The most popular blog was a boy who went to see Lego Movie and figured out how to add the "Everything is Awesome" song onto his blog entry about going to watch the movie. I gave the class 30 minutes on each of the first 3 days back from break to logon and comment. (Below is a screen shot of a blog post about a recent hike we went on, with another screen shot of friends commenting on the post)
So, I end this blog by challenging all my educator friends and peers to "just try it". No matter where you are on your technological journey just having an open mind can lead you to some great discoveries about yourself and your students!!
Thank you for reading,
(Jakey Note: The blogs are currently private and only accessed my the students in our class)
Check out these amazing teaching and learning blogs
Michael Fricano's Blog
2 Guys and Some iPads
Kristin Ziemke's Page
Don Goble's Blog
Mrs. Wideen's Blog