Taking a risk…for kids sake

I’ve been waiting for this day for over a month now. The day when I get to share with you a great blogging project that is happening at our school.

It all started with an e-mail I received from a middle school teacher asking if we could meet. She had just read this amazing article and decided that it was time she gave some of this new technology stuff a try in her classroom.

So we set up an appointment to meet. I remember walking into her room and before I could say anything, Cindy picks up this magazine and says “Have you read this? Do you know what this stuff is, blogs, wikis, podcasts? How do I do it?” all in one breath.

It was at that point that I’m sure a large grin spread across my face. For here stood a teacher ready to dive into the great unknown world of Web 2.0 and unleash it on her students.

To make a long story short, within hours of that meeting I received an e-mail from Cindy’s teaching partner Amy asking if she could get involved as well. So the three of us set out on an adventure to turn 7th grade science, about earthquakes and volcanoes, into an interactive web 2.0 experience.

When the three of us sat down, we started discussing the different options and tools we had at our disposal. We decided that blogs would be our best tool to begin with. Once both the teachers and students felt comfortable with that, we would incorporate more tools that supported the learning environment.

Using WordPress as the blogging software both Amy and Cindy dove head first into this scary new world of digital learning. It has been fun to watch them use the blogs in different yet effective ways. One can look into both Cindy’s and Amy’s blog classrooms and see how the conversations on the web, and the posting by the teachers themselves, tell the story of what is happening within each classroom and within each class.

Using Feed2JS I created this site as a home page for the 8 class blogs plus RSS feeds from the usgs.gov site that the students visit most often. Here is the home page I created for the 7th grade blogs. http://www.thethinkingstick.com/files/science7.jpg

From here students can go to their class blog or they can view and comment on one of the other 7 classes. The classes are just now starting to use their second Web 2.0 tool in using mapbuilder.net. I was introduced to this tool by Tim Lauer a couple months ago. The students will be plotting earthquakes on their maps, creating a map database of earthquakes around the world. Students will then look at this data and start to draw conclusions on where and why earthquakes happen. You can look for the MyMaps at MapBuilder.net
link on the class blogs. Again the students are just getting started with this part of the project so you might not see any information at this point.

We do a lot of talking in the blogosphere about this kind of work, and what this means for students. I hope that you take some time to read a couple of the blogs and look at the conversation that is taking place within them. I have to commend Cindy and Amy for their patience, dedication and their drive to not only try something new, but to become a learner. My conversations with Cindy and Amy are ones that I always look forward too, as they both usually start sentences with “Your not going to believe this…” If you have some time and would like to contact Cindy and Amy just to give them a pat on the back or to ask questions about their 7th grade bloggers, I have linked their address on their names above. Cindy and Amy have already done a presentation to parents about blogging in education and are spreading the word to anyone that will listen about the power these new tools hold. Cindy and Amy I take my hat off to you and I welcome you to the blogging world!

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