Last week I held my Grade One Parent Night, and I used the blog of one of the students from the year before to demonstrate the dramatic change in children’s writing in the first grade.The parents were riveted by the fact that their child would have a similar online portfolio.During the presentation, I mused aloud “if you have some free time tomorrow at 1:00, come and give us a hand getting started with our blogs”.Four adults showed up (actually, I did too so that makes five).What a difference it made to have so much help.There is a feature in Classblogmeister that allows students to choose the colours in their backgrounds instead of the provided templates.It is a bit complicated for young students, so I don’t usually mention this feature until after Christmas.With so much help, the students were able to all choose their background colours, select a title, tell an adult a couple of things about themselves to be included in the “about me” section AND write their first blog entry. They were enthralled with what they had created.
By the next morning, someone’s parent had commented on her blog, so we all had to have a look.That led to us to checking everyone’s blog to see how many “reads” each one had had.Thanks to a workshop of teachers from Grand Forks who had talked to my class via the Yackpack on our class blog during the morning and had promised to check out what we did in the afternoon, almost everyone had at least 15 page reads, and one child had 35.Huge grins all around.The child who told me, “I don’t know how to write” and “I don’t know what to say” visibly sat up straighter in his chair when he saw that he had eighteen reads.He is now beginning to think of himself as a writer.The addition of the “page reads” feature was a brilliant stroke by David Warlick when he created Classblogmeister.
This year, David added a new feature that allows the blogs of my “orphaned” students from last year to be picked up by their new teacher.This means that they can continue to blog and show their growth in the same online space—a two-year portfolio.The only thing better would be if their grade three teacher would allow them to blog as well.
I love that nothing is posted online unless I see it first.I love that there is a Classblogmeister Yahoo email group where users can ask and answer questions.I love how responsive David Warlick is to questions and suggestions that users have.But most of all I love the fact that my students have an audience can begin to see their place in a global community.