Monday, 25 June 2007

Lenva Shearing

Hello all, my name is Lenva, and I am the facilitator of the Bucklands Beach ICTPD Cluster in Auckland and I am delighted and privileged to be added as an author to this blog.
I have been experimenting with using Web2.0 tools in the classroom to support teaching and learning for some time now, with mixed results.
I tried to find examples of excellence in the use of these tools, but it proved more difficult than I had first thought. Many blogs I have found on the net seemed to deteriorate into a gossip or chat session. I have to say that some of the best examples that are available are from New Zealand.
I have found that it is absolutely essential to identify a purpose and intended audience for a blog. Once the purpose or topic has finished, then new posts to the blog should cease. In the case below the purpose was a literature circle with about 10 students, studying the Diary of Anne Frank.
I started with classblogmeister. This provided a very safe environment for the children to write their blogs, as everything is behind passwords, and all the blog articles the children write are forwarded to me by email for approval before posting. This way I could keep a watch on the quality of the work, and ensure that the comments were appropriate.
However, the blogs in this environment are hard for other people to find, and this defeated the purpose we wanted for our blog. The children wanted an authentic audience and wanted feedback from a wide range of readers.
I then took the posts from blogmeister and put them into a blog in Blogger. This blog was completely controlled by me. Although I did all the postings, they were written by the students and credited as such. Once the children finished their work, they ensured it was correctly edited and available in digital form, ready for me to post.
You can view the blog at http://thediaryofannefrank.blogspot.com
This blog has almost finished. They are completing their last posts now, and will finish with some reflections of the whole exercise.
Now that this has been a successful experience, the students and the teacher are feeling more confident now to branch out with less control from the teachers. We will probably set it up similar to this blog and give the students authorship. However in saying that, no student has asked for this to happen, and they are very very proud of their blog (and rightly so). They are absolutely empowered by it, and have taken the skills learnt and are using them in a range of other situations.
If you are interested take a look at the work of a student (Cheyenne) http://mysciencefair.blogspot.com who was part of the literature circle and then went on to use blogging to record her progress and processes during the current science fair.
It really is exciting stuff and I can't wait to see what comes of all this.

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