(sung to the tune of It's My Party... -- It's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to...)
Good things about today ---
1. The BEST thing about today was that my 5th grade class skyped with Laura from 25 Days to Make a Difference. We have been working on our own blog for a difference, 17 Chances to Help. The kids love Laura's blog and they have been having a bit of a back and forth exchange with her via comments and posts. It was one of my students who asked if we could skype with her. I really haven't done much skypeing with my students at all. In fact today was only the second time I have used skype in the classroom and the first time I have used it in this way. Laura was so adorable and sweet. My students were so excited and kept asking her the same questions, like, "How did you get the idea for your blog?" over and over. All in all it was just cool.
2. A friend at work made me lunch. How nice was that?
Frustrations for today...
1. I got a not so nice, "anonymous" comment on the 17 chances to help blog. I think it was from a student in the class. I'm not sure of the motivation for the comment, if it was a passive-aggressive way of complaining about the project or just a misguided attempt at being funny. I don't know if he/she didn't realize the comments were moderated. I don't know. I have heard that a few of the students have complained about spending so much of our lab time working on the blog, but when I asked the whole group about it, I got a positive response, even asking if they can continue in next year.
It really hits a nerve and illustrates, for me, a piece of the issue of digital citizenship that is being discussed so much lately, especially after the appalling videotaped beating of a teenager last week. Every little aspect of digital citizenship needs to be taught. Here I am, a teacher, used to students complaining about this and that, and a little comment (which was not even THAT bad) really felt like a slap in the face. There is something cowardly about posting anonymously. I would much rather hear students complain directly, and I told them that.
Now this same group will also be working on a collaborative writing project, using google docs to collaborate on a story using the pictures from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I am really interested and even a bit worried to see how they handle the collaborative aspect of the work.
2. I am a bit disappointed in the aforementioned group blog project. It was helpful "talking" a bit to Laura's mom, Angela, and reading her post about Laura's blog. I want to do so much more than I am able to do in my 45 minute per week sessions. I can't seem to get the kids to go as deep as I would like them to go. They have a "mitzvah club" as part of their Judaic Studies, but it seems to me that something is missing. They seem to be going through the motions, but not gaining a real understanding of what they are doing. Their writing, their thoughts, even their answers to some of Laura's questions, really make me wonder how our school could be doing a better job of teaching. I don't know if my expectations are out of line for 5th grade... I don't think so, I used to be a 5th grade classroom teacher, but maybe I've lost my sense of the age group?
•I don't know how to address the 45 minutes a week dilemma. I like being the tech resource at the school, even with the limitations. The Judaic Studies teacher who does the Mitzvah Club with the students has no interest whatsoever in integrating tech. She didn't even want to see the blog. I hope to get a grant to continue and expand the project. If I am lucky enough to win a grant, it will give me more options. Maybe I will take it to the afterschool arena, as I did with my student blogging group, the Tech Explorers. I would like us to actually DO some things to help out in our community. I want the students to experience the power of helping and giving, as well as their own power to create, connect and make good things happen.
•As to the issue of teaching digital citizenship, there is a wave building. Talk about using the power of technology to harness the good...I have jumped on board and am expecting quite a ride. Only a few days old, it is called ad4dcss (advocates for digital citizenship, safety and success) and there is already a lot of action afoot.