Tuesday, October 6, 2009

They always bring us back to humble!

After recent success with the 6th grade boys reading class, I am reminded today that without the lows, there would be no highs in teaching. Today was definitely a low in terms of any real learning happening. I am having some pretty major frustrations trying to work out blogging with the boys. I am hoping some members of my PLN can give me some advice! So, here are a list of frustrations today:
1. Helplessness: I walked the boys through how to log on to the blog site and had a step by step guide on the whiteboard. Yet anytime the boys run into trouble their first instinct is not to work through it, but to ask for help. And even though there were step by step directions, half of them ask, "What do I do next?" after finishing each step.

2. Lack of basic internet knowledge: The internet in the computer lab opens to msn.com. A full half of the class then enters the web address they want to get to into the search on that page instead of into the address bar. And when I direct them to use the address bar, they 1) don't know what that is or 2) think I mean their street address!

3. Writing: Once I get them to the blog site and they read the prompt I have set up for them, which should generate at least a good paragraph of writing, they type in one sentence, call out that they are done and ask (again), "What do I do next?"

I have to honestly ask myself what good trying to get them to blog is doing for them. I don't know if I am accomplishing anything through it, other than gaining an insane desire to beat my head against a wall! Am I using the wrong format or tool for what I want to accomplish? Do my boys not have enough background knowledge of technology to be able to use blogging effectively? Would anyone care to look at our class blog page and give me some feedback? I would be eternally grateful!


  1. For problem 3, you should set up some expectations of length first (on a worksheet I always add several lines below a question that I want more thought and I explain to the students that the amount of space I provide gives them a sense of the amount of writing/thought I expect) Maybe in your blog prompt you could note expected length next to each element.

    For problem 2 you are revealing the false presumption of digital native vs digital immigrant. Talk to your school/feed school/district about a tech skills pathway. That way you can know what skills/vocab your incoming students have been exposed to and what experiences you need to provide to prepare them for their tech enhanced lessons in the next grade! (Obviously not an easy or quick solution, but it will be for the best long term for the kids in your school)

    For problem 1, as a science teacher, following directions were an important classroom procedure. Ask the science teachers in your school if they use a particular procedure for lab activities (Ask three then ask me, get in small groups and have an official "manager" read the procedure to the group then have "questioners" come up with a question/confusion someone might have with the procedure. Review the questions/answers as a class and then have the kids do the new activity/skill.

    Why blog? Maybe take a side step and have the kids blog about a personal interest/story (have them prewrite it and then "publish" the final draft on the blog) Then assign comments, with guidelines. Kids who get lots of comments will feel empowered and get interested in blogging. Other students will see what kind of writting gets attention (hopefully higher quality work) and start to emulate.

  2. Colin,
    Thanks much for your thoughts and ideas. Good ones all, that I am eager to put into practice. Unfortunately, I do know that about all they've had of tech teaching is keyboarding and ppt. Guess I was hoping they'd picked up other skills on their own. I can't afford to spend a lot of the class time (reading class of 45 min) to teach them the necessary tech skills and right now I take them to the lab once a week.