Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 16 A Pantser Reflects on Student Blogging #SOL17

As a "Pantser" (yet to grab my badge),  I don't plan my Slices in advance. I wanted to be more of a Planner and even though I could create a theme for each day. Turns out, as much as I love the idea of knowing what I will write before I write it, that isn't really how I process life. I need to write after I live it, if that makes sense. 

The down-side is, some nights or mornings don't have a fabulous idea all ready to roll and the pressure of the clock ticking doesn't allow for time to come up with one. Yesterday was my daughter's 4th birthday and by the time the festivities were done, I was exhausted. A full work bag begged for my attention because report cards are due Monday and I still have endless hours of work to go to make that happen. Still, I was exhausted and sleep won, before I could do any more work or compose today's post.

As I sat down to write this post, I first checked my class' Kidblog page. We are deep in the challenge now. I'm awarding badges to students for different purposes- writing a poem, commenting on at least 3 people a day, writing for 5 days in a row. 7 students have yet to earn one badge at all. Part of the issue is students have to jot the name of their post in a booklet I created and jot names of classmates whom they've commented on. This does not take long, but saves me endless amounts of time for awarding badges. Some students have trouble remembering to write in their packet and others have said flat out, they aren't doing the challenge. Which I find puzzling and a little sad. I give them time in the morning to blog and I've also said they could blog on paper if technology is an issue at home. I just bought many prizes through Scholastic, which I will be giving away to kids who've earned 7 badges at the end of the challenge. Why wouldn't you give it a try? It's not hard to earn badges but some aren't making any attempt at all. I've accepted it, but it bothers me.

I am also struggling with seeing how many students forget punctuation and write their blog as one, very long sentence. Capital letters too. One students has taken to always using a lowercase letter to start her name. How much of this do I correct? I don't want to take away the joy and excitement of blogging, but how do I help them see that posts with proper punctuation are so much better to read (without hurting anyone's feelings)? Some bloggers are writing one sentence and then saying "Comment me if you agree" or something like that. This seems to be a big thing- they like comments and will use the word as a verb. But they are providing very little for a person to comment on! And there is not much thought going into a post that is one sentence long.

One of my student bloggers writes with correct conventions and she works to incorporate craft in her posts. They are a pleasure to read. But how much do I highlight that? Should I pick one post a day to celebrate and why I like it so much? Perhaps calling students attention to proper conventions along with a meaty message?

One thing I've done so far is highlight a student blogger of the day. I've put a QR code (that leads you to a portfolio of that student's posts) on a sheet of paper and the student writes down what he/she enjoys blogging about. Students enjoy being highlighted in this way, but I could do more to celebrate their best posts.

Time is just the enemy! Squeezing the challenge into a packed curriculum at report card time makes it hard to do all I want to do with the challenge.

One other take-away: student blogging really does offer a teacher more insight into students' lives. You see what they enjoy and the interests they have. I might never known some of the stories and interests students share through their blogging. It helps to get to know them on a different level, and also shows me what I should work to connect to curriculum to make things more interesting for them.

If your students are blogging this month, how is it going for you?