I have taking some time away from writing in my blog as I have been really focused on preparing our school for our new Google Apps for Ed accounts, as well as our WordPress MU site. With these two sites, our students will hopefully have all of the same opportunities that we do as adults in creating their own personal learning environment. Although this has been a time consuming task, in the long run, I am hoping that the “maintenance” time will be minimum.
Here is essentially how this will work. The students will all have Google accounts that are hosted through through our school. These accounts will give them opportunities to use Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, and other components. The WordPress MU site, will give students the opportunity to have their own space where they can create and maintain their own online portfolio that they will have throughout their time in our school. Once they are done, they will just have to simply import their work to their own site, as I am hoping that this is something that they will continue on with past their time in our school.
Creating these components, can dramatically change the way we do things in our school. The important thing though is that we ensure that this is not “more work” for our staff, but it is just a shift in the way we do things.
For example, the goal is that we have every classroom blogging within our school so that we can open up communication with our parents. Instead of “telling” parents what it is going on through a newsletter, I am hoping that we can open up a “conversation” with parents, as we continuously tell them that they are a crucial part of their child’s development. This is our way of showing it through our actions. What I want to ensure is that we are not doing a newsletter AND a blog to our parents from classrooms, but we are just using a blog. Last week, I spent some time looking for websites that could transfer a blog into a newsletter, for the families that do not have Internet access. I am doing everything I can to ensure that we change what we do, as opposed to “adding” what we do.
Here are some other questions I am wondering about?
- Writing in a standard note journal or a blog? Do we need to do both or is one of them sufficient. We need to ensure students still have writing skills as it has not entirely disappeared, but which is more beneficial to the child? Collaborative blog or notebook journal that the teacher is usually the only one to see?
- Should we do daily writing in an agenda or use a google calendar to connect with students? Each student has a journal and I have seen the practice of students getting the “agenda” items for the day and copying those notes into their agenda. Is it better to simply put the agenda into a calendar that all students have access to and forgo them writing it in their book everyday? I know that we can ensure one of those is available to all parents (that have Internet access). I understand that writing daily in your agenda improves writing skills (the technique), but does it encourage a love of writing? Is the time saved here writing it in one open calendar, not better used with some deeper learning opportunities?
We have a long way to go this year in our project, but the hope is that this will become a system that is for the long term for our staff and students, not simply a one year deal. I will be providing sessions, one-on-one time with staff, and other opportunities to help build their learning with the help of a teacher leader in our school. The model for learning is in place, and I am excited that this is something that staff will be working on together with students. Is there really a better way to show students the importance of lifelong learning than doing it alongside them? Everything is in place. We just need to make the shift.
I would love your thoughts on this project. What are some things that you think we could do better with this project being implemented at a whole school project? What are some ways we can not do more, but shift our way of doing things.