Today I was invited by Steve Gagnon and Ashley Page to come teach blogging to fourth graders at Stratham Memorial School. Both Steve and Ashley are part of the Tristate PLP cohort, are strong supporters of connectivism and have been leaders in our school district in the use of technology as a tool in the classroom. Their students have been blogging using Moodle -the Acceptable Use Policy of the district does not allow it otherwise- and they asked me to come share my personal blogging experience with their students and parents.
I have to start with perhaps the most telling moment of my time there. When I asked if anyone in the room blogged, each student raised his or her hand. When I asked the same of the parents, no hands went up. After a quick chuckle that came with the realization that today’s students are writing and participating in their learning in a much different way than their parents, the moment provided me with the opportunity to show the students that they were the family experts on blogging and had the responsibility to share their expertise with their parents.
What was surprising to me was how hard it was to explain to 9 and 10 year old students how powerful a learning experience my blogging has been for me. How do I explain to a fourth grader the transformation I have undergone since I started this journey in July? How do I explain to a ten year old why it is a good thing when people who I don’t even know question my writing, my thinking, and my dogmas? How do I explain to a 9 year old boy that his thoughts can change the world, much like the thoughts of this young girl and this young man did? How can I explain to parents that being a participant on the web is necessary to develop 21st century skills and understandings when all they hear about on Dateline and 20/20 is how predatory the web is?
I struggled in not only trying to answer these questions prior to my talk, but in also trying to communicate how important the process of finding out the answers to those questions is. But, here’s the good news. I get to do it again. Another teacher, this time a 5th grade teacher, wants me to come talk to her class about blogging. So, I get the opportunity to refine my talk and do it better.
So, I humbly ask for help from my elementary experts: for those of you who have taught blogging to 4th graders, help me. Help me answer the questions above. Help me teach 4th graders how to connect and make a difference. And help me show parents that it is okay to be a participant and that children can do it safely and with meaning.
Finally, before I finish this, I’ll share one more cool thing about today. I subscribe to all the kids blogs in Moodle, which means that when they submit an entry, I get an email. When I have my email open and I get a new email, it “pings”. I say that because, when I got home today and opened my email, I already had nearly 20 emails signifying 20 different blog entries from the kids, and in the time that I have been writing this entry, I have been pinged nearly a dozen more times.
Keep writing kids!