Well with no school and no kids, I don't have much to report about what I'm learning about teaching. But that has given me a chance to think about other things.
Here's something I've written about before but revisited it several times this week as I was strategizing how to work with my kids. Bill Ferritier's book Teaching the IGeneration is a real go-to book for me. If you haven't read this, you need to stop what you're doing and get a copy of this book. 2 reasons...one, is it easy to read and very useful and two, it gets better when you re-read it. I've been considering how to beef up my blogging efforts and sure enough Bill's tips on digital conversations help me frame-up my thinking.
The book has a host of downloadable worksheets, checklists and guidelines to use with kids. It's simple to use them, as is, the first time through and then tweak them a bit to suit your needs. For example, I want my kids to do a better job of dialoging with each other. Bill's teacher run through list includes a reminder to review what "collaborative dialogue" looks like with them showing them sample strands. I also love his idea about spotlighting someone work....using a rubric to show the rest of the class why it was a stand out in all the writing that's been done. OK...I know all these things. But somehow looking at them again in this list...well, it keeps me going back to the basics of solid instruction.
This is just one example and there are tons more. If you're looking for a way to spruce up some of the continuing lessons, this book is a real pick-me-up.
So...I'm starting a whole new batch of kids on their own blogs which will mean I will have to compile a list of ToDos when you're starting your blog. One of the first things I make them do is to figure out how to write a quality About Me page. Something that reveals "who" they are without telling their real name or other private information. Actually they do a pretty great job balancing all the requirements. Check out Hanna, Ben, Joey, Katy, or Jack. These are all very different but funny and revealing without saying too much. I also make them create an avatar that represents them so they don't have to use the Edublogs avatars...and they can't post pictures of themselves. They like that part of the setup pretty well.
I put them in the Under Development category until their blog is up to our class standard. I'm spending the next couple of days going back through and looking at how they've been doing in keeping things up to par and have them do their own scan for improvements that need to be made using our Setup Checklist. If the blog isn't where it needs to be, it will shift it back down to Development so they'll know they have to spruce things up. If it doesn't get fixed up within two weeks, I take it off the public viewing until it meets standards. It's a good check and balance system...
This time around I've added in another requirement...they have to go throug