12 April 2013

My HS Math KidBlogging: 1

Okay. I've set up my page.

Who knows where we'll go from here.

To take some of the pain off of implementing new tools, I usually pilot in either of my two smaller classes - AP Stats or Applied Math. I reserve the "fun" stuff for Applied and I push the "interesting" things into AP Stats. Especially with blogging, I wanted to pilot with Stats because they are all pretty strong writers, and I wanted to experience some level of success before I tried any other classes. (and because AP Stats requires a lot of writing anyway)

My student that is also currently in AP Calc stayed after to meet with Mr. Owen, the Calc teacher, so when she stopped by on her way out from his class, I knew my guinea pig had arrived.

"Hey, you're just in time for your blog."
"My blog?"
"Yeah, I just set it up. Let me just figure out how to log in now..."

[I click around on a few links on the kidblog.org site until I find the student login screen. I like it, by the way. I hate having to help students remember their login name.]

"Sorry its KidBlog - it was the only site I know would let me set all this up for you guys. I mean, its demeaning to me..."
"It's fine...    I've never blogged before. I'm not interesting. I won't have anything to say."
"Oh, don't worry about that - I'm going to give you prompts for now."

Here is my students' first writing prompt:

We'll see what J comes up with this weekend. She's usually willing to try most anything (if she's sure I'll get around to giving feedback on it).

Where I'm sitting  now on the direction I'm going to steer my kids' blogging is to relevance. (which was one of the options I came up with previously) They always want to know, so here's their change to get it. And share what they find. I'm going to stress much more on research process in the writing than a "right" answer about relevance.

What do you think about my prompt? How would you help me improve it?


  1. YAY for you jumping right in. I think that kind of thing must be in our blood, bro. Here's what I am thinking. I don't really know anything about the math part of your prompt, but I can tell that it obviously will have them thinking, explaining and making connections. What I was thinking was more about your thoughts (or goals) about the blog as a whole. I know it's late in the year, so maybe at this point it's just to try it out and see what kinds of results you get, or how you can manage it in your short time (when is she responding to this, by the way? Is it homework or classwork?), rather than making it their own or whatnot. If you were to start at the beginning of the school year, would you do anything different? I wonder about the conversation we had in #moedchat the other day about authenticity--would this make your students want to write for themselves (like when you don't tell them to) and would people besides them (and you) want to read it? Man--that sounds like I'm being harsh. Totally not meaning to be--just curious about your bigger ideas and plans. Does that make sense? Again--props to you for taking on this challenge, little brother. :)

  2. So many questions!

    I agree that for this year, I was mostly just seeing what I could do with it. I was thinking about using it during summer school, but is it worth it for 2 weeks, you think?

    Since she was doing this as a pilot for me, (and she is in like 5 other AP or honors classes) I told her she could get it done whenever she had time (which I knew would be soonish given the timeframe she made an ebook for me in a similar scenario).

    I assume by "making it their own" you mean making it a place that they write for themselves and even when unprompted, right? Honestly, I can't even really see that happening as strictly a math blog. I get bored talking about one subject myself on here. Here's another place where our classrooms differ - your kids could legitimately write related to class on any subject.

    The math TEACHER blog community is pretty small itself - I have a hard time imagining the size of the audience for a math student blog.

    The only possible redemption - they use the blog to explore THEMES of interest related to whatever we're doing in class at the time?

  3. Audrey McLaren McGoldrickApril 19, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Chuck, tks for sharing this. You're making me think about why I get my kids to blog. I might even do a post about that myself! In the meantime, here are my thoughts about your thoughts, I hope you don't regret asking me, I'm just giving all my reactions as the come to me:

    Your prompt:

    Visually, I like that it's a separate window from the text, it sets it apart and makes it the star. Not sure I like the photo of the handwriting - especially since part of it's cut off. I like the idea of handwriting being displayed in a post, as a wordless reminder that I am indeed a human, but when I want handwriting I like to use Smart Notebook + wacom pen.

    Math-wise: It sounds challenging, which is probably fine for the kids you're describing. It's also a big task, and it seems like it will take them a good while to do it. If it were my kids, and I wanted them to do something this involved, I would have to give more guidelines, including how long the description has to be, does the video count as the description or should it be accompanied by text, etc.

    General: If this is the first assigned blog post, I wonder if it's jumping in too fast? Again, you know your kids, they sound pretty keen. I had to get mine to dip their toes a little more with a few strategies:

    -I started with short and sweet: I got them to do a summary paragraph of the day's lesson/activity on their blogs

    -I gave the option of publishing assignments to their blogs rather than handing them in to me

    -I gave the option of doing an in-depth blog post (similar to what you're asking for) instead of a class test

    A big issue that I am still struggling with is getting them to comment on each others' posts, here is one sneaky thing I did:

    -I got a lot of reflections from them via a googledoc spreadsheet that only I could see, then I shared their reflections publicly on the classblog, anonymously. Then I made them all read and comment about which reflection they identified the most with other than their own. Got them to see that other peoples' ideas are interesting to read.

    Relevance: I so agree with this! I want them to fall in love with writing about their own journey in learning as I have, but it has to be relevant to THEM! I am finding that it is a tiny minority of students for whom this happens. Last year I had 3 who blogged whether or not I asked them to, and this year I have 2. Maybe the stats amongst teachers who blog are the same?

    Finally, just do it! Who knows what'll happen? I still don't know where I'm going or what I hope they'll get out of it, other than better learning, self awareness, and digital literacy. You might want to check out the brilliant Crystal Kirch's blogpost about her class blogging ideas, too.

    I hope this helped!

  4. Appreciate your ideas!

    As far as the prompt itself, I just took a picture of the index card I gave to the student as she left. For a class-wide prompt, I would write it out more formally, given more guidelines and probably post to my class google site or our shared dropbox folder.

    It was also the nature of this particular student that made me think I could probably start her out this in-depth, but you're right, it is more appropriate to start tiny. (And I prob. should have started her a little smaller as well)

    Love your strategy for commenting. Definitely going to do that if/when I roll this out larger next year.

    How classes/ages do you blog with?

  5. Audrey McLaren McGoldrickApril 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I have three grade 11 classes, all math, and they're all set up with their blogs linked to the classblog hub. In my first year, we were all on the same blog, and anyone in the class could post to it. I used the scribe post strategy then, which at first was exciting and new, but I was the main and only reason anyone ever posted, because I assigned it to different people. Plus after a while I noticed that each of their posts got slowly buried by the scrolling, and there was no opportunity for them to have their own place that they could customize. I still don't feel like there's enough excitement, maybe what I need is to partner with other schools, like a quad blog type of thing....next year maybe!


Thanks for sharing!