Jeri, Jen L, and I started a collaborative blog back in August when we were all together at the training and have used it sparsely throughout the first half of the school year. I think it has been a success for what we've done with it, but it has much more potential for the future. It is an open line of communication between classrooms, a window into each of our classes, and a record of the work and growth our students have accomplished throughout the year. I think for the rest of the year I want to use it more for these purposes.
When we started the blog, we set out these expectations, but perhaps not clearly and explicitly enough for us to really follow through with it. So now as I reflect on the collaborative potential of a blog between classes, I think of the ways I want to utilize it. We posted a video on it at the beginning of the school year as a way for all of our classes to comment and connect around the same ideas, and that was a big success. It was also good practice for all of our students to get on the blog and get comfortable with the technology that was new to most of them.
I admit that I feel the need to have to get creative when I decide to include blogging in a lesson, because I can't allow it to take away from the integrity of the lesson. It would be a whole lot easier if students came with this knowledge of blogging already in place, but, haha, that's why we're here! So we spent a lot of time working on setting up these routines and standards at the beginning of the year, and now I think the students in my classroom are comfortable logging into the blog and doing their thing with little assistance from me.
The collaborative piece is a bit more challenging, mostly because our 3 classes (3rd grade from A14, 5th grade from A14, and 5th grade from Center) have to find more general things to work on together rather than on specifics, because we're constantly trying to stay within the confines of the curriculum. There's no time to stray away from curriculum, so creating really good collaborative blogging opportunities that ENHANCE our learning can be a challenge. I am always reminding myself that we don't use technology because it's "cool" and "fun." We use technology to engage our students in meaningful ways. The technology should never take away from the lesson.
So we will have to spend some time thinking about ways to integrate this collaborative project into our respective curriculums in ways that are meaningful and engaging to our students. It can be difficult, but not impossible. What successes and struggles are others having with collaborative blogs?