Where Poetry & Blogging Collide

A few weeks back, I stumbled across Sarah Kay‘s TED Talk, ‘If I Should Have a Daughter…

I recently started blogging with 6th Graders, so found her TED talk particularly relevant when she got to the part about her experiences working with teenagers on poetry.

One thing Sarah suggested teenagers were good at was writing lists, so she began by assigning her students list poems. One example she mentioned was:

10 Things I Know to be True

I decided that list poems and list posts could well be the intersection between blogging and poetry. In their English/Humanities classes, they have started a poetry unit, so it seemed the planets aligned for me in terms of content!

This week, I asked my students to write a list post on the above topic. It has, in my opinion, been the most successful blog topic to elicit more personal and thoughtful content from my students to date.**

I always try to model what I want my students to do, so if you are interested, check out my list here.

Marius added a picture to each item on his list, including that you need to think out of the box.

Victoria knows that bad things can happen to good people.

Pavitra knows that laughter is the best medicine.

Kavya believes the world needs more leaders who consider consequences.

I teach pretty neat kids, huh?!

** If you are interested, the other topics we’ve covered are:
– a Mind Map about what they are interested in blogging about
– Something they believe deserves a bigger audience

Mini-Bloggers

People have a tendency to underestimate small children. A couple of years ago, I’d probably have been one of them. The combination of having my own kids and having an opportunity to teach younger and younger kids at school means I’m now a complete believer that there are no limits to their capabilities.

Like many people, I have been keeping a family blog (with the intention of keeping my family back home up-to-date with our goings-on) since 2005, when my daughter Scarlett was born. I have managed to keep blogging over the years, and it has been a wonderful reminder of events and day-to-day happenings that I would have forgotten about otherwise. The baby books I keep for the kids are somewhat embarrassing in comparison – lots of blank pages and photos falling out…

I thought about what a great way of documenting learning a blog is – I have a post about the time Scarlett first learned to crawl, learned to walk, wrote her name etc – and how that might translate to the classroom. I figured it would be handy to try this out myself before using it with others, so in the time-honored tradition of teachers everywhere, I decided to use my own daughter as a guinea pig!

I had already purchased domain names for my 2 children (together with Gmail accounts for both – a fact which my fellow ADEs found amusing during a session Jeff & Chrissy initiated over dinner one evening – “what’s the geekiest thing you’ve done?”) so setting Scarlett up with a blog was not going to be a huge drama. I knew exactly which blog platform I wanted to use – I simply haven’t found anything easier for kids than the drag-and-drop interface of Weebly. I wanted something Scarlett would be able to manipulate herself (with assistance from me of course).

weebly 1

I wanted Scarlett to be as involved in the process of blogging as she could be. Given that she is four years old, this meant that instead of predominantly typing, we recorded her explanations of pictures using my iPhone, which we then emailed to my address, and uploaded to the blog from there.

IMG_0024

Scarlett has done the vast majority of the clicking (and dragging). She has typed parts too (that she has said and I have transcribed for her) and taken some of the photographs. Each time we do an entry together, she is getting better and better.

The impact on her literacy and numeracy, together with her geographical knowledge is encouraging. The other day, we went to the site and she said, “Oh look Mummy! Two comments!” though I’ve never taught her the word ‘comments’ before. She also wanted to look at her map (the clustrmap I set up to show her the location of her visitors) to see the dots around the world. She pointed out New Zealand (where our family is from), and Singapore, and then we talked about the other places people have visited from. The hit-counter has got up to 179 at last count, which was more than she could count, but now she knows past 100.

Thanks to my fantastic PLN, Scarlett has enjoyed getting comments from all sorts of lovely people around the world. It is amazing that she has had the opportunity to hear from such a diverse group of people. What a motivating experience! I’m sure it is largely due to them that Scarlett has been coming to me saying, “Mummy, I want to do my blog.”

I am also glad to help capture her voice (both literally and figuratively) explaining her world, as I am sure it will be something she will look back on fondly in years to come.

Scarlett’s not the only little kid out there blogging – I found out about Owen in HK through his Dad, and Kaia’s an inspirational photographer too (with tips from her Dad). Maddie and her Mum in Shanghai blog about their life overseas & Oscar in Hanoi makes movies that hope to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids in Hanoi (with help from his Mum & Dad).

I’m sure these parents would agree with me when I say that blogging with your child is a great activity to do together. It’s nice to spend time talking about events in your child’s life, organising content and reflecting on experiences together.

I truly believe if Scarlett and I can do this, anyone can! I would love to hear about other success stories out there.

Finally, please visit Scarlett’s Blog to leave a red dot from your country on the map. I can tell you – honestly – she will be excited to see it! A comment may even tip her over the edge..!

Mini-Bloggers

People have a tendency to underestimate small children. A couple of years ago, I’d probably have been one of them. The combination of having my own kids and having an opportunity to teach younger and younger kids at school means I’m now a complete believer that there are no limits to their capabilities.

Like many people, I have been keeping a family blog (with the intention of keeping my family back home up-to-date with our goings-on) since 2005, when my daughter Scarlett was born. I have managed to keep blogging over the years, and it has been a wonderful reminder of events and day-to-day happenings that I would have forgotten about otherwise. The baby books I keep for the kids are somewhat embarrassing in comparison – lots of blank pages and photos falling out…

I thought about what a great way of documenting learning a blog is – I have a post about the time Scarlett first learned to crawl, learned to walk, wrote her name etc – and how that might translate to the classroom. I figured it would be handy to try this out myself before using it with others, so in the time-honored tradition of teachers everywhere, I decided to use my own daughter as a guinea pig!

I had already purchased domain names for my 2 children (together with Gmail accounts for both – a fact which my fellow ADEs found amusing during a session Jeff & Chrissy initiated over dinner one evening – “what’s the geekiest thing you’ve done?”) so setting Scarlett up with a blog was not going to be a huge drama. I knew exactly which blog platform I wanted to use – I simply haven’t found anything easier for kids than the drag-and-drop interface of Weebly. I wanted something Scarlett would be able to manipulate herself (with assistance from me of course).

weebly 1

I wanted Scarlett to be as involved in the process of blogging as she could be. Given that she is four years old, this meant that instead of predominantly typing, we recorded her explanations of pictures using my iPhone, which we then emailed to my address, and uploaded to the blog from there.

IMG_0024

Scarlett has done the vast majority of the clicking (and dragging). She has typed parts too (that she has said and I have transcribed for her) and taken some of the photographs. Each time we do an entry together, she is getting better and better.

The impact on her literacy and numeracy, together with her geographical knowledge is encouraging. The other day, we went to the site and she said, “Oh look Mummy! Two comments!” though I’ve never taught her the word ‘comments’ before. She also wanted to look at her map (the clustrmap I set up to show her the location of her visitors) to see the dots around the world. She pointed out New Zealand (where our family is from), and Singapore, and then we talked about the other places people have visited from. The hit-counter has got up to 179 at last count, which was more than she could count, but now she knows past 100.

Thanks to my fantastic PLN, Scarlett has enjoyed getting comments from all sorts of lovely people around the world. It is amazing that she has had the opportunity to hear from such a diverse group of people. What a motivating experience! I’m sure it is largely due to them that Scarlett has been coming to me saying, “Mummy, I want to do my blog.”

I am also glad to help capture her voice (both literally and figuratively) explaining her world, as I am sure it will be something she will look back on fondly in years to come.

Scarlett’s not the only little kid out there blogging – I found out about Owen in HK through his Dad, and Kaia’s an inspirational photographer too (with tips from her Dad). Maddie and her Mum in Shanghai blog about their life overseas & Oscar in Hanoi makes movies that hope to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids in Hanoi (with help from his Mum & Dad).

I’m sure these parents would agree with me when I say that blogging with your child is a great activity to do together. It’s nice to spend time talking about events in your child’s life, organising content and reflecting on experiences together.

I truly believe if Scarlett and I can do this, anyone can! I would love to hear about other success stories out there.

Finally, please visit Scarlett’s Blog to leave a red dot from your country on the map. I can tell you – honestly – she will be excited to see it! A comment may even tip her over the edge..!

We’re off and running!

Photo credit: kris247

Our PD initiative to encourage more technology use with the teachers at our campus is underway. I’m extremely excited and hopeful that our already-busy colleagues will come to the party and take part.

Katie and I have tried to differentiate our approach so that we are catering to the needs of all teachers, be they novices or experts. To this end, we have created challenges each week that they must complete IF they want to be in the draw to win the prizes. We put together a cheeky little teaser to appeal to their more materialistic senses…

Connecting East Trailer

We have decided to use both a blog and a wiki to share the info and tasks with everyone. The blog is more a summary of where we’re wanting people to head for the purposes of this PD initiative, whereas the wiki is a place for information about all sorts of things related to Web 2.0 tools and the like. We hope to be able to extend and refer to the wiki for any future endeavours with technology PD, and also hope it provides a point of reference for the teachers we are working with.

We have 4 challenge levels that the teachers can choose from — novice, apprentice, practitioner & expert — and people are welcome to mix them up depending on the task, e.g. one week they might do the novice challenge, the next they might do the practitioner.

While we have the blog and the wiki for independent learning, we are also making ourselves available for ‘Fruity Fridays’ — a chance to meet with us face-to-face to get some support in completing the tasks, while sharing some cut fruit for breakfast. We hope the ‘personal touch’ will encourage those people who prefer to learn in group situations with a person available to assist should they need it.

I should mention that this is entirely optional. We are not requiring people to do it. We are hoping to reach a critical mass that will help shift to a more technology-aware and savvy staff.

Below are some of the results of our survey, which proved to be extremely interesting and useful to us in developing PD.



What’s great about the results (above) is that it we think it is going to be really easy to make a positive difference for our colleagues. I mean, if all they get out of it is an introduction to social bookmarking and voicethreads, then that will provide them with numerous possibilities for their classrooms. I will consider it a job well done if we manage that much! In the words of a good friend and colleague, anything else is just gravy!

What’s challenging for us is to create engaging and motivating tasks for the teachers on top of our regular teaching load! If only there were more hours in the day!