I’ve done several sessions to introduce teachers to blogging in the past, and have usually walked away wondering how many were going to keep it up. Beyond the technical aspects (which are huge issues if you’re not yet sure how to do basic things such as copy and paste) there is always the worry that teachers will not see the potential, but will just see it as “one more thing” to be added to their already busy day. At a fairly recent session that I did, I guessed that only about one third of the participants would actually follow up on the work we did together.
Yesterday I did a daylong session about using blogging to meet your curriculum with about fifty K–2 teachers. This session was the brainchild of Donna Desroche and JoAnne Kasper, and involved teachers from almost all of the schools in their division. It was one of the most enjoyable sessions I have ever done. I loved it because I went away feeling like all of the participants there would actually use what they had learned. I think it worked well for several reasons:
Preparation – All of the teachers came with a Classblogmeister blog already set up. We didn’t need to take time to go over basics, but could instead focus on making it work in the classroom.
Time – The teachers had a whole day of release time to learn about, talk about and feel comfortable with their blogs.
Ownership – We spent some time talking about how to customize their blog and then let them have time to add widgets, change templates and make their blog their own. I don’t see this as peripheral. I think this is an important step in ownership for teachers as well as students.
Curriculum Connection – As you can see from the wiki that I used, we also spent some time talking about specific ways they could use their blog to connect their students with our Saskatchewan curriculum. When I showed them how to embed a video, and some examples of curriculum-related videos that they could use, I could see their eyes light up.
Ongoing Support – At the end of the day, Donna asked them to talk in groups about ways that they felt they could use the blog in their classroom, and then asked them to email both herself and JoAnne to let her know their thoughts about the day and what further support they needed to help implement their goal for their blog. Some of them took the opportunity to find other classes to connect with and begin a blogging buddy exchange.
Well done, JoAnne and Donna. You’ve created a great model that’s worth following. I can’t wait to see the great stuff the teachers and their students will do.