Capitals, Periods, and Spelling… Oh My!

This week, I am moving along in my GAME plan and have done a little more of the Action piece and some early Monitoring of my progress and Evaluation of the usefulness of the blogging site I have chosen.  As communicated earlier, I have to seek administrative approval for each collaborative website that is used with my students as privacy and security is paramount in my district.  I filled out the necessary paperwork this week and gained approval for the use of Kid Blog (kidblog.org).  I also sent home notification of our use of the site along with a brief description and short explanation of its educational purpose of it to my student’s parents.  I have decided that if parents wish to view our blog, I will enroll them as a guest user and their privileges will be to view (not comment) on the blog at this time.

I gave my 3rd graders a basic introduction to our blogging site and was surprised at how easily they were able to log in and get started.  The site is very simple and kid-friendly, without distracting pop-ups or confusing sidebars.  Our first discussion was in answer to a general response question (What are your plans for the weekend?).  Sixteen of my twenty-six students were able to craft a response during our time in the computer lab.  I would have liked to have seen all of them respond, but many ran out of time.  This week, because I will not have to spend so much time explaining and guiding individual students, we should have enough time for all students to respond.  If this continues to be a challenge, I will need to re-think how best to use the time we have in the computer lab (about 40 minutes once a week).

My student’s responses were all on-topic and thoughtful, however I was surprised that, despite vocalizing my expectation that sentences be written using correct conventions, students paid little to no attention to capitals, periods, or spelling in their responses.  I think this part of our blogging will take more modeling and direct teaching to be successful.  However, I was delighted to see that I had the ability to moderate comments and send them back to students for editing before making them public.  I have created a poetry lesson for our next blogging activity and am excited to try it with my students tomorrow!

In this week’s resource, Chapter 6 of Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use, I found the section about Developing Assessments interesting and applicable to my GAME plan.  I see how the use of this blogging tool can provide formative data as it helps give me a glimpse my student’s thoughts, thinking processes, and growth in skills and understanding in a variety of content areas (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. D., & Ertmer, P. A. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: a standards-based approach. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.

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7 Responses to Capitals, Periods, and Spelling… Oh My!

  1. Lisa LeBlanc says:

    Roxanna,
    Kudos to you for trying Kid Blogs. That was something that caught my eye because of the user friendliness and safety for younger students. I like that you started simple with just a Weekend News type of question. That is something we already do in our classroom, but this provides the students with an opportunity to use technology for this traditional writing genre. That’s a perfect example of finding ways to incorporate technology with what we already do. Plus, I think you discovered there is a need for this, because your students apparently need to learn that traditional rules of writing remain intact as expectations for writing on the Internet. You could probably reinforce the fact that in this format, their writing has a much broader audience, and therefore, the need to practice good writing skills is even more important! Maybe you need to create an editing and revising rubric or checklist just for this purpose? That might work.
    Lisa LeBlanc

  2. Julie Budd says:

    Roxanne,
    As you know, I also teach third grade and I feel your pain…. spelling, capitals, and punctuation. I was under the impression that using a computer would help improve these skills, but sadly that is not always the case. It is definitely the age. “Run-ons galore …. “A constant conversation in my classroom.”

    I would suggest involving the parents in checking their child’s work prior to posting on the blog. A letter nicely explaining your goal and some suggestions may be helpful. I might even encourage your students to use Microsoft word and edit their work and then copy and paste into the blog. I have found that forcing my students to read aloud what they write helps correct some of their errors. I applaud your efforts to do a classroom blog. It will long be an impressionable part of your student’s education.

    Here is a website I found that may be helpful to share with your parents:
    http://www.kumon.co.uk/blog/ways-to-improve-childrens-understanding-of-grammar/

    Good luck this week.
    Julie Budd

    • butkusfamily says:

      Thank you, Julie! I like the idea of having students type their comments into Microsoft Word (they are just doing a discussion blog right now) before posting. That way the program will help them to “spot” their errors and offer suggestions for corrections. That is one thing I wish KidBlog had!

      • Julie Budd says:

        I find most blog do not have that feature, but most blogs are geared for adults. The KidBlog site seems so easy to use and set up, if only it had the spell/grammar check feature. That is a good wish.

  3. Edward D. Clarke says:

    Hey Roxanna,
    Wonder job!! Blogging is a great interactive tool that teachers and students can both use. It keeps students engaged and is a fun way to organize information. I love how you organize your game plan to keep the students interactive and ready to learn. The idea of involving the parents in the blog was a great way of having ‘extra eyes’ on the assignment & keeps the parents abreast of what’s going on in the classroom.

    Often times in a classroom, some students might not feel comfortable giving their opinions in class, so blogging is a great way for students to still participate and discuss without having to feel embarrassed. Besides feeling more comfortable participating through blogs, students might also be more motivated through blogs because they won’t feel like it’s a boring worksheet or assignment. Most children love going on the computer or internet and providing information or asking for information from students seems much more interesting through a blog than any other way. Most importantly, educators will see a general improvement on reading and writing skills after implementing classroom blogging. Because students will be reading and writing so often, they will be getting a lot of experience and practice. Great job again!!

  4. Susan says:

    Roxanna
    I just had to respond to your post. Blogging is an excellent tool. I am surprise to hear that your 3rd graders did well with blogging. I tried blogging with my nursing student for the first time last semester. The students loved responding and learning something new each week. Blogging help to reinforced content that the students was not able to capture in the classroom. The evaluation at the end of the course was very positive. One student said that “response from others gave her a clearer understanding of the content area”. Students do learn from each other. WOW! Now, I can say it works well with elementary students. My hat is off to you. Keep up the good work!

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