Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hearing It from the Source!

     On January 11, 2010, I spent the day at Mt. Blue High School.  A large part of the day was spent in Hattie's room with her alternative education students.  I sat in on one English freshmen class and one senior English class.
     If you will recall, Hattie and I spent a great deal of time this summer talking, reflecting, planning.  After reviewing a number of rubrics and thinking about data that would be helpful for other teachers, we came up with the idea of creating a baseline with a survey focusing on student use of technology, etc.
      We decided to kick off the data collection by talking to the students and receiving feedback from them.  So, Hattie let me talk with her students on Monday.  Following is a summary of the information we collected.

      FYI, every student has a blog.  The school system's policy protects student privacy. Students are not allowed to use their true identity online.  Hattie assigns them a number.  Students are also not allowed to publish their pictures.  Only their hands can be shown online.
Here is link to Hattie's class blog:    Welcome to Mrs. Deraps' Online Class

On Monday, Hattie had her freshman students blog on Capital Punishment.

This is part of their unit on Monster.  Last summer as we talked about teaching, she was adamant that there would be no more make believe in her classroom.   She consistently looks for ways to have students make meaningful connections to the literature they are reading:  Blogging has helped to create reality for her students as you will see from the comments below.

When asked how think/pair/share using discussion compared to think/pair/share using the blogs compared, we had an extended conversation with  ahhas.

  1. Students value the privacy of writing anonymously.  They feel free to say what they really think.
  2. Students like the time it takes to think about and reread their own point of view and perhaps clarify their thinking.
  3. Students love reading each other's opinions and exploring different points of view.  They have  specifics for giving feedback - siting what and why they agree or not.
  4. Some students preferred discussion because they wanted feedback from body language and tone of voice.
  5. Students found they remembered what they had read easier than trying to follow a conversation.
  6. Students love knowing their posts will be read and welcome the feedback (a  key to collaborative problem solving).  
    • Audience is a reality to them and it is immediate.  A number of the students have clustrmaps on their blogs and have followers from around the world.  
    • In a very real sense they are authors.  They openly admit they try harder - convention and content - knowing others will read their writing.  They spoke clearly about the image of themselves presented through their posts. 
  7.  Students love choosing images to go with their posts.  They choose their images at different points in their writing process.  
    • Some scan pictures first and use the images to help focus their ideas and visualize (Steve poem).
    • Others chose pictures to help create the tone of the piece - as a final part of the composition - post on innocence.
    • Others chose pictures to make a point, choosing them to represent a key point.
    • Others felt pictures could say things (innocence post) your words could not.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the freshman blogs and sharing the student reflections.
I will post more later this week on senior class.

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