Blogging as a Platform for Showcasing Authentic Student Writing in Gr3

Its been a thrill to be teaching the gr3 class at Mount View School in Calgary. I have been a guest teacher for the past few months, collaborating with teachers on embedding ideas from Sharon Friesen’s Teacher Effectiveness Framework, Task Design ideas from Galileo Centre, and evidenced based best practice ideas from Hattie’s Visible Learning research .

This morning the grade 3s were engaged with learning focused on expressing ideas and feelings related to conversations, text or media. We started with a conversation about surface knowledge and deep knowledge. We discussed what great reflective writing looked like, related it to previous writing work we had done with Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book and then set the stage that we’d be doing some writing on a platform new to our gr3s, Kidblog. We talked about what ‘going deeper’ means when it comes to learning. What preceded this discussion was a couple of videos used as a provocation for thinking and curiousity. Then we visited Chris Hadfield’s twitter feed and thought about what types of questions about surface knowledge we could ask him, and then what kind of deep knowledge questions we could ask him. Hadfield of course tweeted us back almost immediately to the thrill of our gr3 class.

Next we introduced students to our Kidblog site – how to log in, how to send your writing to be reviewed by teachers, and how to save a draft. We co-created an assessment rubric with the gr3s that identified key pieces of quality writing: opening,closing sentence, more than one paragraph, juciy words, reflective statements, including an illustration, giving the work an interesting title, good spelling, complete sentences. Students then got to work and myself and Bev Barnes, the other teacher, conferenced individually with students. We modeled peer feedback, what it looked like, and how long it should take. We talked about digital citizenship and how to keep ourselves safe when on the internet. We co-created feedback reflective questions that students could use when offering peer feedback. When students’ work was ready to published, we put it out there on our kidblog site

We were deliberate about creating an authentic learning task for students; framing the work around being ‘journalists’. What do journalists do in their work? How could we use journalism ideas to advance the context for learning and content.

Next we posted links to our blog, on @MountViewCBE twitter feed, to share the work with parents and community. We talked about commenting on others’ writing on a blog and what appropriate comments looked like. When students’ blog posts were posted, we encouraged students to read and comment on other students’ blogs.

The whole was extremely engaging to students. They were excited to be able to go home and share their published writing with their parents, grandparents in nova scotia, etc. Writing was focused on life in outer space, connecting the work to gr3 science topics like rocks and minerals and animal life cycles.

Plus Bev and I had a lot of fun collaborating on the planning and implementation of the unit.

One of the richest pieces of my work this year in my Consultant role with CBE has been embedding my work in schools. Taking ideas from Friesen and Hattie to create engaging meaningful learning for students. If you’re interested in having me work with you at your school in a similar capacity please look me up on CBE outlook. I’d love continue this work!

Roy Strum
Consultant, Env/Outdoor Ed, Social Justice learning, Student Leadership, Sustainability Education