Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blogs and Wikis, an update i mentioned earlier this year, i am using blogs and wikis with my year 9 accelerates.  i feel a little like i'm floating through dark space without a connection to a mother ship, but i'm trying.  one never gets anywhere without trying (and failing), right?  that's what i'm telling myself, anyhow.  

my biggest concern is that i don't know exactly how my students should be blogging (is there a "should"?).  we have used our blogs for posting poetry and responding to questions from Knowledge4Africa, a site that offers English activities, among which were several poetic options.  (note:  K4A didn't have the actual poems, so i projected the poem from my laptop onto the board while the students answered the questions).  we have posted book reviews as well, and i also used a film study round-off activity on their blogs.  

most recently, however (and most exciting), we have recorded videos of them reflecting on their experiences at high school and in English for the first half of the year.  many of them come from a school with a school-television station, so they are pretty savvy about how they will edit their 1 minute videos.  i am looking forward to sharing some with you early next term.  i am NOT looking forward to the editing/posting of the videos, which thus far in my experience has been a painful and ultimately unfruitful pain in the arse. however, by putting this task in the hands of my students rather than my own, i hope to see successful video uploading. you can peek at our homepage here.

we have also used a wiki this past term for collaborative learning of our film study.  firstly, students were allowed to vote which film they wanted to study.  as long as it had a suitable rating (and it wouldn't make me feel like i was having my teeth drilled to watch it over and over again), i was willing to use it.  they chose Hot Fuzz, and since i adore simon pegg, that wasn't a problem.  

the wiki is only in "draft" form at the moment - i plan to use this holiday time to review their pages, and we will formalise it together during our revision during term 4.  i am wondering how much "amending" i should contribute to the wiki.  if you have used wikis, i would love to have your input on how much contribution you make as facilitator. right now everything you see is student created.

i can't really tell you right now if this experiement has been "successful", especially as i'm not sure what comprises being successful at this point.  what i can tell you is that i have been excited to see a large (30) group of students focused on their work and working collaboratively to direct their learning.  it has been exciting watching them want to do, and doing, more than what is asked, as they come pre-skilled.  and it has been exciting watching them be thrilled with coming to English (something i don't get from my seniors).

i have been fortunate.  this class is timetabled when the best lab at school is avialable, so i haven't had the frustration of dealing with unavailable lab time, difficult to manage mobile laptops, or downright frustrating library computers.  and i am grateful.  

i am aso fortunate enough to have toni twiss, technological mothership, coming to assist my department next term.  i can't wait, and i'm sure my students will be most fortunate to have the benefit of the time spent with her.

now i must stop procrastinating and get back to my NZATE 2009 conference presentation!  have a happy winter holiday.

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