Today I did something that I NEVER thought I would do with Grade 1 and 2 students. I relinquished control, and the students officially have their very own WordPress blogs through our HWDSB Commons blogging platform. These seven- and eight-year-olds are administrators on their own blogs. How did this come about? Well, it all started with a student.
Earlier this week, one of my Grade 2 students asked me if he could keep his Commons blog for next year. I didn’t quite know how to respond. Not all of the teachers at the school blog, and not all of them that do, use the Board blogging platform. I didn’t want to say, “no,” to this student, but I wasn’t sure that I could say, “yes,” either. Instead I said, “I’ll ask Mr. Bennett.” 🙂
Jared Bennett (@mrjarbenne) is the 21st Century Fluencies Consultant for our cluster and one of the creators of the Commons. I was hoping he would have a suggestion for what I could do. I messaged him to ask, and in reply, I got the suggestion that I could make individual blogs for each of my students. Then the students would be administrators on their own blogs, and their parents could help monitor their blogging activity at home. Best of all, the Commons is a community, so the other educators and students in the community can help model good blogging practices and continue to act as an audience for the student work.
What really convinced me to make this change though was the attitude of the students. When I mentioned the idea of individual blogs to them, my class was beyond thrilled. Never have I seen the students more excited about writing. This blog would be their own. They could write on it all summer long, and continue writing on it all next year. They were thrilled that Mr. Bennett and I trusted them enough to let them have these new blogs.
Together, we looked at examples of student blogs. We discussed different themes. We looked at what made these posts well-written ones. We looked at how the students could keep a general blog, or make it more specific. We even discussed naming options. Then I showed the students how to request their own blogs, and they logged into their Commons account and made their requests.
By the next day, Jared had created all of their blogs. I didn’t say anything to them about the new blogs, as I thought that I would introduce them on Friday. Some students signed into the Commons on Thursday for writing time though, and they discovered them on their own. One student even figured out how to change his theme, add a title, and create new posts on this new blog.
The students were so excited that last night I stayed up late, exported all of the student blog posts, and imported them onto their new blogs. Jared is coming in the middle of June to help the students move over their video and other media posts. Thanks again, Jared!
With this plan in place and the blogs established, the only thing left to do was to have the students design their own blogs. I’m going to be honest: I’ve used WordPress for blogging for a couple of years now, but it still confuses me, and my skills are limited. I let the student that figured out what to do, teach the rest of the class, and then the students experimented. They logged in. They pressed buttons. They tried things, realized they didn’t work, and tried again. They asked me for help, figured out that I didn’t know the answer, and asked a friend instead. 🙂 They problem-solved together, and the results were amazing!
Naming Our Blogs
I had a couple of students away today, but all students that were at school for the day, picked a theme, decided on a title, and published their first official post on their new blogs. All student blogs are linked along the side of our group blog. While I initially never would have considered letting Grade 1 and 2 students control their own blogs, I saw posts like these three below, and realized that maybe I have nothing to worry about.
Set high expectations, believe in your students, give them the tools that they need to be successful, and never say never, as even the impossible can truly be possible! When have your students surprised you? I would love to hear your stories too!