Blogging in 1st Grade? Yes, please!

The time is finally here in Rm. 2o2 for writers to become bloggers and start their journey into safe and productive digital citizenship!  YAY!!  Are you excited to hear about it?  Let me tell you the beginning of the story (it’s kind of a long, developing one so I figured I’d at least get us started…).

Now, there are many things I like to do year after year, but because the kiddos are different, I don’t do them in the same exact way.  As we began to talk about blogging, I did begin similarly to my last first grade class, but of course with this class we had to include some literature, too, right? (more on that when I get to the part about comments!).

After we were clear about what a blog actually was and had some ideas about what we might want to write about, we got started with the writing part.  On paper.  I do have to admit for these kiddos this was less than ideal.  I have never heard so much grumbling in my life!!  They didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t jump right to the online part, but it wasn’t an option yet, so they took the paper instead of nothing. LOL

I was happy with how quickly most of them got into their topics, as well as how they were also thinking about how the aesthetics of a blog are also important–the title and pictures should correspond to the theme they are writing about.

On our 3rd day (it took us a couple of days to finish our first drafts of our blogs), we started talking about comments.  We discussed about how blogs are like conversations and how there are some general “rules” for how those should go.  We role played what it would be like for someone to talk to us and then just walk away when we were finished (Thanks Ella for your help with this part!).  We agreed this was not so kind and considerate to the speaker, and this was connected to what it would be like to read someone’s blog and then move on.  It’s about the conversation, after all.

Before we practiced this next step, though, we watched the BrainPopJr. video about internet safety, which highlights things that are ok and not ok to say online, as well as what to do if you think something is not right.  Next we read a book to continue the idea of being honest and kind.

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On a complete side note to this whole blog thing, we were excited to hear the story of Patricia McKissack and how she once attended our school! She was one of the first African-American students to attend our school after it was integrated in the 50s.  She’s a hero and is so brave, and is a local author who lives in our town!  Very cool!  Oh, and I remembered how I had had her sign my copy of this book when I had met her about 10 years ago.

The discussion around this book was an interesting one.  Like the little girl in the story, we thought that telling the truth was always the best thing.  This is still indeed true, but we learned from the events of the story that thinking about when, where and how to tell things is important to do.   Sometimes things are better to be saved for a private conversation with just one person, rather than being stated publicly (especially on a blog or other online space like Twitter).

After our honesty and kindness lesson, we got busy responding to our friend’s words.  This was exciting and I was impressed with how focused and quiet kiddos were while they did this work.

After this first round, we gathered together to share some of the notes we had gotten from other bloggers.  Some had questions, and we will deal with those in the second round–when we respond to the comments.  So far we are doing so great at this!

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Check out what our blogs look like!

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So..since it’s all about the conversation–we’d love you to join in!  What comments do you have for us? What questions do you have?  Maybe a suggestion?  We’d love to practice commenting with you!  Thanks for reading about the beginning of our blogging journey!!

Can’t wait to share the next step with you soon!

The Writing Process–in Math??

Yep, you read correctly.  We’ve been learning the writing process–mainly in regards to our work in Writers’ Workshop–but also in math!

A few years ago, when our school started working with Cathy Fosnot and Mathematics in the City, I learned about how many parallels there are between communicating in mathematics and communicating in most any other setting.  At the time it was kind of mind-blowing to think about how mathematicians revise and edit their work just like authors.  After hearing more, and thinking it through, and then trying it with kids, it made sense.

So…as with many other things I learned about with older kids, and protocols that I know work well with any age, we’re talking about the writing process in mathematics again.  In 2nd grade. 🙂

The first unit we worked through this year was about place value, and was related in many ways to money; this made sense to kiddos and helped them think through how to “trade” 1s for 10s, 10s for 100s and just how to make groups in different ways to “make” a number.

One day they were challenged to consider this story:

Screenshot 2015-10-08 20.37.03-minWith their elbow partner they were supposed to figure our the answer to that question: If Jerry has $1000 to share, with how many people could he share a $10 bill?

Kiddos worked for almost 2 math periods to figure out their answer (which was really the answer to the question of how many 10s are in 1000) and clearly share their thinking on a poster.  For many, the answer of how many people was easy, the way to share their ideas not so much.

As a means of helping them know when they were “finished,” we discussed these parameters for their work:

Screenshot 2015-10-08 18.51.45-minAfter we had our posters finished, we were ready for our gallery walk.  During a Gallery Walk, students put their posters out for other mathematicians to read and comment upon–with the goal of helping deepen mathematical thinking and help create more meaningful representations.  It works much like a writing celebration, which is a great connection because all of our kiddos know how to do that. 🙂

Before we were ready to start commenting on others’ work, we needed a review of how to make effective, meaningful notes on our friends’ work.  We sat for a quick refresher using this flipchart:

Screenshot 2015-10-08 18.51.56-minThen we practiced recognizing helpful comments that followed the guidelines.  I gave examples and non-examples, and then we modified the ones we have given a thumbs-down (which mean they were not specific, kind or math-related).

After that, we were off to work in our gallery walk.

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We did pretty great with our first walk of the year, and I’m sure kiddos brought their kindergarten and first grade knowledge with them to help as they shared their thoughts with other groups.  I was impressed with how questions were used and kids were specific with what parts didn’t make sense or that they thought others could improve upon.

After adding comments, partners were given a few minutes to review what others had shared.  In order to debrief and think about how to use this to help us next time, partners had to share out with the larger group one thing they would do to revise their poster to make it better (and ideally we’d have taken time to actually revise them, but we ran out of time!).  Next time we are ready for a math congress and gallery walk, we’ll definitely come back to this moment and remember what we learned. 🙂

First Grade Bloggers!: Part 3

If you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 of our blogging journey yet, you can check them out here and here. 🙂

After we had a chance to try out commenting for ourselves on our friends’ paper blogs, it was time to get down to the REAL business of REAL commenting on REAL blogs with REAL people!  This was one of those places where I added in some extra lessons to the version of Blogging 101 I have done with 5th graders.  I just felt like my little bloggers needed more opportunities to practice before they graduated to their own blogspace.

With many things we are learning and practicing for the first time, turn-and-talk or partner conversations are a good way to work through concepts with a friend.  This allows for each to teach and learn (based on what they know), and also to help ensure that everyone is on the same (or at least a similar) page before we move on to doing things independently.

As we gathered for Writers’ Workshop, I had kiddos sit with their elbow partners and explained that I was going to give them a “blog” to read and that they were then supposed to turn-and-talk with their partner about how they would respond to that “post.”  I made sure to write examples that they could relate to, and encouraged them to remember to include what they had learned about how to leave a good comment:  respond to the writing, say more to give details or reasons, and to ask a question to keep the conversation going.  Together with their partners, everyone had a chance to role-play with at least 5 or 6 of these scenarios:

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I tried to write posts that seemed real and relevant to first graders (like ones that they might read on others’ blogs and that they would eventually write on their own!), as well as ones that had examples of the parts of a blog post that we would talk about soon after this.

As a check-in to assess how kiddos had been doing, and to give those that might need more support some ideas, we went through each “post” and shared out some examples of responses.  Together we “graded” the responses by giving thumbs-up if all of the components were there.  Like I said before, this was a new step to my blogging process, but I’m really pleased with how it went and how excited they were about learning it!

The next day I gave them their first go at trying these newly acquired skills on someone else’s blogs.  Together with their partner (the same one as the previous day), they read blog posts and commented.  This day also add a separated but related lesson of its own: QR codes!  Since I knew that this would be a quick and easy way to get websites and other links to my kiddos, but since I also knew they hadn’t heard of them before, I introduced the concept as the way to get to the blogs we would be visiting.  Yep, a two-birds-one-stone situation. 🙂  They learned how to use the QR reader, how to find the site they were looking for and then also how to manipulate the interface of KidBlog.org itself (which would soon come into play as they saw their own KidBlog site!).

They had a great time and did a great job practicing their new commenting skills.  The downside?  The only links I could find to 1st Grade KidBlogs (at the time) were archived ones from classes that were not able to respond to the comments we left. 😦  Oh well, we got to practice on our end anyway, right?  🙂

First Grade Bloggers!–Part 2

I started our blogging story yesterday, with how I introduced the whole idea to my first graders.  Like I mentioned, they’re pros already!!

After we made our paper blogs, we were ready to talk about comments, and how the whole point of a blog in the first place is the conversation it starts.  We talked generally about how to comment, and then studied this document, another great resource I got from @mcteach.  It’s called the “Art and Aspirations of a Commenter,” and while I had to paraphrase much of it for 6-7yos, the idea still applies:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 6.54.11 PMWe discussed what the parts of a comment were supposed to be, and then tried it on each others’ blogs.  Much like we do when we have a gallery walk in math or a writing celebration in writing, everyone laid out their blogs and kids read and wrote: one comment on each post-it, then post-its on paper posts.  Check out this amazing video to show how quiet and focused everyone was during this time.  Seriously.   Believe me.  It’s good stuff.

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So after that experience, our paper blogs looked like this:

These kids are picking up this whole blogging thing so fast and furiously!  Can’t wait to share the next step!  🙂

I Told You We Were Blogging, Right? :)

Really they’ve been blogging all year.  Only it’s been on our class blog.  A few short weeks ago now, though, our 5th graders got their own blogs!

There is a long story behind how I started down the road toward kid-blogging, and I posted about it here.  We did much of the same process this time, and it went equally as well with these kiddos as it did the first time around.  Only I have a little bit of  hunch that this year’s class will go even farther with their blogs.  Partly because we started earlier and so they’ll simply have more time, but also just because this class just seems to dig into their work with such eagerness and enthusiasm.  I think they’ve already written more posts on their own at this point.  They really think in terms of what is “blog worthy” as they go through their normal lives.  I love it when I go home and there are posts waiting for me in the inbox that tell the tales of all the great things that happened during the learning day.  And not because I told them to write about them, but because they wanted to write about them!  It’s great.

But I digress…

Here are some pictures of our first days on the blogging journey, which started with creating our paper blogs:

Some kiddos got inspiration by checking out last year’s blogs before they got started on their own.

After we had our blogs created, we learned how to comment.  And got to work practicing on post-its before we went into the “real” world.  I have to say how proud I am with how great they did, remembering to be positive, tell something they liked about the blog post, as well as ending with a question to keep the conversation going.

               

               

               

               

              

              

              

So needless to say, they are totally rocking this blogging thing!  If you haven’t had a chance to check us out, visit our student blogs to see what it looks like live! We would LOVE it if you left us a comment to tell us what you think!

We’ve Been Busy!

Wow–these numbers impressed me.  Our kiddos have been busy:

We’ve only been blogging since December!  And ok, there are 25 people writing those posts, but hey–almost 1000 comments!  WOW!  And so I must also thank you, our faithful readers and commenters, because it wouldn’t have happened without you!

Have you been there lately?  You should visit if you haven’t. 🙂

Entering the Blogosphere

If you would have asked me last school year if I’d ever have a blog, I’d have said you were nuts.  I knew what they were, but didn’t see myself as a blogger; I didn’t have a story that anyone wanted to hear.  I wasn’t really sure what I’d write about–up to that point I’d only written for myself as the audience in my notebook.  So then if your next question would have been if my kids would be bloggers, then I’d have considered you certifiable.

So I guess you’re all crazy–and I am, too!–because my class has a blog, and my kids started their blogging journey this week, too!

Before I go any further, I have to give a shout-out and a thanks to Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) and Karen McMillan (@mcteach) for providing many useful blogging resources to teachers like me who have a great idea but don’t really know where to start.  Their assistance via Twitter and their own blogs has been unbelievable!

Now for the story:

I have been talking up blogging since pretty much day one.  I started the class blog that you’re reading in July, after talking alot with my brother, who teaches high school math and just finished his Masters in Educational Technology (or something like that–sorry if I got the title wrong, Chuck!).  I have been writing for a long while now, but I needed another outlet.  At this same time, I also joined Twitter, and have been learning much from my “tweeps” ever since.  That’s actually where I got the idea for blogging with kids.

I was noticing that so many people were tweeting about updated posts by their kids, and so I started reading.  I soon learned that there a tons of kids out there who are learning super important lessons about writing and internet safety (and too many more to name) because they are blogging.  Even kindergarteners.  Yep, 5 and 6 year olds.  So the more I read, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted my kids to join them.  And so I began planning on how my 5th graders would enter the blogosphere.

We started on Wednesday, with a lesson that I called “Blogging 101.”  It was funny that I had to explain the “101” part to my kids–they had never heard of that before.  We talked about what background knowledge they had for the word LOG, and discussed how a log is a place where someone (like a pilot or ship captain) writes down important things that happen, organized by dates.  They were able to then transfer that idea to web-log, or blog, and we were in business.

They already have experience with this blog that I write, because we read it together almost everyday, and many of them have been following and commenting for months now.  I showed them several of the other blogs I follow, like Make It and Love It, the Candy Blog (that one is one of my hubby’s favorites, actually), Bake at 350 and Daily Daisy (and Caleb, too!).  We talked about what we noticed about both the appearance and theme of each one.  At this point they were chomping at the bit to get going–but there was another very important thing we had to talk about next: safety.

Thanks to an idea I found from Pernille Ripp again, we talked about why internet safety is like the mall.  While my students, who are 10-11-year-olds, don’t spend a lot of time at the mall or other places by themselves yet, they knew some really smart things to do and not do: not talk to strangers, not share their personal information with random people, only go where you tell your parents you’re going and stay there the whole time, and so on.  I was really pleased, because I knew I was going to be talking about how the very same things would keep them safe while they were on the internet on their own.  We talked through an internet safety plan, that they were to take home to share with their parents and have signed.

Next step: first blog post.  But not online, on paper.  They created a rough draft to tell about themselves, then edited and made a final draft on 9X12 oak tag.  This was serious business in our room.

     

    

After two days’ worth of work, we had finished paper blog posts and we were ready to learn about what makes blogging interesting: commenting.  I shared some guidelines, and we talked about what they were thinking.  I gave them some ideas for comment starters (shared by Karen McMillan on her blog Notes from McTeach), and my kiddos were great to connect some conversation prompts we already use in our classroom to this new learning.  Each student was given a pad of sticky notes, and the were off.  I turned on some quiet music, and they went to work.  They read, they thought, they commented.  For almost 45 minutes!  Yes, you heard right–45 minutes of silence and students focused on sharing their thoughts with their friends.

        

                     

After a while, everyone’s blogs started to become a beautiful rainbow of colored post-its, each containing kind and constructive words from their classmates.

Once everyone had had a chance to comment on blogs (and comment on other comments), we took some time to read what others had written, and then sat down to debrief and celebrate.  As we gathered in a circle on our carpet, I asked them to share with each other whatever they were thinking about what we had just done.  Here were some of their words:

I liked it.  I think this was a good experience for knowing what we’re going to do on our “real” blog.

I think it’s cool because we were talking with paper–kind of like having a conversation, but definitely different.

I think that it was really fun.

It was fun because you got to pass notes and you don’t get to do that in class normally.

It’s great that we got to learn something new while we were having fun together.

This reminded me of Harry Potter–like passing owls–we got to come back and reply to a note that someone wrote.  I really felt like someone was noticing me.

I was excited when Kelsey was replying to my answers, I had to reply back!

So we’re on to the internet on Monday, to be introduced to our kidblog.org blogs.  We hope to have our first “real” posts up by Wednesday.  I have to say I’m impressed.  I am amazed.  I knew it would be good, but it went even better than I anticipated.  It was so cool how engaged they were, how eager they were to share their thoughts and read the thoughts of their classmates, how kind and generous they were with their words.  I didn’t have to censor anyone’s comments; they were completely honest and gracious as they told each other how much they liked what they had read, asked questions to dig deeper and to encourage future work, and to make connections to what the blogger had written.  They commented on each others’ comments, too, and we even ended up with one long string of sticky notes that was about 10 long!  I was so proud of my students once this was completed, and am so excited to see what they do next.  I know it will be amazing.  Because they are amazing. 🙂

Enjoy our first finished projects: