For the past three months, the children in my class have all had a blog mentor from the University of Regina. These mentors are all talking a class from Patrick Lewis that focuses on how to teach writing to primary students. It has been an ideal partnership. The “big blogging buddies” get to watch and participate in the writing development of a live, breathing primary child, and the little blogging buddies have a captive audience for their beginning writing.
One of the requirements for the university class is that the participants comment on each blog entry that my students make. I provided the students with the rubric that I would be using to assess writing at the end of the year so that the expectations were clear. We also had twice-weekly chats via Skpye in which the mentors took turns chatting with my children about their writing. The other requirement was that the students all come out to meet my children at the end of the semester—a forty-five minute drive. (Patrick made this a requirement this year after I had several children in tears last year when the anticipated day arrived and their big buddy did not.)
The improvement in the writing skills of children in grade one is always profound, but the modeling and suggestions that the pre-service teachers have given have made a big difference to my children. Knowing that someone besides their teacher will be nagging them about periods, capital letters and writing more details has motivated and encouraged them.
Last week, after I had answered the question “when are our blogging buddies coming?” 304 times, our university blogging buddies finally came to visit us. As you can see in the picture above—pure joy. I wish every classroom could experience this.