Student Blogging Limbo

I’m not sure I would say we are going about this the wrong way, but we are trying to do many new things this school year. I have used technology with students since the early 80’s – but usually that has been limited – one or two classroom computers. I have had access to 30 wireless laptops for 7 years, but I was sharing them with the entire staff. Now this year comes along and I’m swimming in technology. Those 30 laptops, though old, live in my classroom, I have access to 3 digital video cameras, multiple digital cameras, scanners, and also a new Promethean Activboard. More importantly I have “PERMISSION” to use them with my students.

We are doing many tech/web 2.0 goodies, but we are introducing many of them at once. Again I’m not sure that is “wrong” – just that we are in early adoption mode in many things instead of learning things one at a time – becoming somewhat proficient and then moving on to the next.

Because of that approach we are aware of many things but still require lots of teacher support in almost everything we do.

Blogging is one of those areas. We have done some (along with, a 1:1 laptop pilot, digital video, word processing, internet research and applications (Wiki, Flickr, Skype, downloading video and images) but if you visit our blog you will note that 1) the posts we have done are not polished, we haven’t even agreed on a name (so Name To Be Decided graces it now) and therefore we have zero comments outside of our own to each other.

On the other hand as we learn we are seeing how these different pieces integrate – and as we do things and see the importance of analyzing what and why we are doing that work, we have come back to earlier work and come to terms with the shortcomings. Also contributing to that is how fourth graders mature – some students “grow-up” from one week to the next. An “its good enough” attitude one week becomes an “I didn’t see those mistakes? – I’d better fix that,” attitude the next.

So earlier work will become fodder for future learning and that can’t be bad. Look for us to come out of our “Blogging Limbo” in the next few weeks.

Also we have been working very hard on long pieces of writing that may become future blog pieces – although many of these stories are 2 to 6 typed pages … is that too long for a blog post for a 4th grader? These are pieces we started before we had laptops. They are stories about “Being Your Shoes” for a day and tell about a day in your life from the perspective of your shoes (this lesson is my best contribution on the Nevada Writing Project’s fantastic “Writing Fix” web site – Corbett Harrison has designed maybe the best web site to support writing instruction out there – with a little help from his friends).

It will continue to be an adventure to see how we progress – especially since I still hope to roll this class to fifth grade to continue our pilot and build on this year’s learning.

Learning is messy!

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5 thoughts on “Student Blogging Limbo

  1. Many of the blogs I read about teachers working with web 2.0 tools bring me back to
    Eric Jensen’s point
    that, “We learn best by immersion; by jumping into the fray, then thinking our way out of it.” It sounds like you’ve done just that and it sounds like the puzzle pieces are starting to come together for you and your students. As you work with all of these web 2.0 tools, what is the connection to your curriculum? You’ve taught for a while – how has learning changed in your classroom as a result of having these tools available at your fingertips?

  2. Hi,

    I too have used quite a lot of technology over my many years in my 4th grade classroom. However, starting student blogs this January has been particularly exciting and exhausting. If you want to see what we are doing with it (and how the curriculum fits in) go to the class blog ( The kids’ blogs are all on the right. I’m also blogging about this at my blog, educating alice, at

    The thing for me about blogs is that I’m getting new ideas every second about what we can do with them. Just not enough time to do it all!

  3. Great comment Diane – as for your questions, I have actually been thinking about those things and I do need to step back here soon and really think and process answers to them – my initial reaction is that I haven’t noticed big changes, but I suspect they are there and I haven’t come to terms with them yet. I have tried, not always successfully yet, to not JUST do the same stuff but use technology to do them, but to really do things differently in transformative ways. Also as my students become even more at home with the technology my focus can change to being more of a guide and less of a teacher.

  4. Brian, Great comments and a very important subject as to whether our work with technology actually has a positive impact on student growth as it relates to the curriculum. I was recently having a conversation with a university professor about a school in Fernley that has a laptop for each student from funding that they received. Her warning was about having unrealistic expectations for the learning curve just because the students had access to internet through technology, etc. Just know that the work you are doing is very important and will guide the rest of us as we are able to bring into our classrooms more and more technology. Keep up the good work! Kimberly

  5. hi i am in a similar situation in a year 6 class in darwin australia. all the students have their own laptops. its the beginning of our school year but i know how you feel. kids can use the computers to a point but alot of time is spend getting them past just looking and or reacting to very similar contexts. Games are cool but once you learn how to control the game console not much help learning to navigate a network to save a file using some form of naming protocole and god save us if the wireless isn’t working. But i would not trade it for anything. i guess i am just bragging about my problems.