Learning something new everyday!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Inspiration: stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity. I love it!  The word suggests such beautiful possibilities.

I find myself continually inspired by the smallest and most unlikely things all the time (my son's Beyblades, pots of dye, worms in the garden...) more so now than ever before.  I'm wondering why it is that today, when available time seems scarce, that there are so many things I want to do and try (both in my personal life and in my classroom)?

I was reminded of this when sitting in a fantastic workshop this past Monday night listening to Adrienne Gear speaking about her Writing Power book and how she teaches writing in her classroom. I was thinking of ways to improve my teaching the students to become better writers (triple scoop words, similes, personification...). I also came away with a list of great new children's lit titles, I have a weakness for great books!  All in all, a great and practical workshop and I am inspired to write more myself and help my students write more. Through the rest of the week though, I kept coming back to my problem with time. There is such a short period of time to do so many things, something I know we all battle with.

Lately, I have been working on incorporating technology in the classroom and starting my students on their individual blogs. What I have decided for me right now is to continue with what I am already doing in the classroom and use Adriennne's suggestions as my "mini lessons" that precede my student's writing time. I know, earth shattering, right?  I mean, when I'm inspired with great ideas, I'm tempted to throw out the old and in with the new, but I need a little more continuity being there is already many things we are trying with the new technology this year.  So, hopefully we will see improvement in student writing on their blogs....

In the meantime here is what is inspiring me....

Allowing students to direct and test their own inquiry.  I need to do more of this. The learning involved is fantastic.

Watching my son and wondering....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Student Blogging

Happy April 1st, and yes, it is... SNOWING!  No Fooling!

So, on Friday this past week I experienced two very different and conflicting emotions. One was great frustration and had nothing to do with students (I will not go there .... here).  The other was great pleasure, and this I will share :)

My students (and I) have been so excited to begin their blogs that waiting for their turn on our classroom computer or the few laptops we share during the writing component of the day was frustrating for them. So I decided that we would all venture out to use our old lab of computers (some don't work or have other problems). We found a working computer for each student and began. It was......chaos!  If I could have changed course right then without a mutiny on my hands, I would have!

Picture 19  six and seven year old students all trying to access kidblog and begin a writing for the first time (3 students had posted their first blog the day before) with 1 teacher!

But wait, yes,  I was the only adult in the room, but soon the students began stepping up and teaching each other. Within 5 minutes the tone in the room went from chaotic to engaged, active learning.  2 students walking around ensuring everyone was on the right site, a couple more finding the colour button for their fonts and soon many students were typing rainbow colours.  Someone calling out "How do you do a period?" and  "How do you do a capital letter?" again students to the rescue.

When the recess bell rang 45 minutes later groans from around the room were heard. "Can I stay and finish my writing" was the common request. I answered "No, let's take a break, but we'll come back right after recess" !  One beauty of a small school is the access to equipment.  So, straight after recess we were right back at it, finishing our first posts.  There was no "I'm done, now what?" only "Can I write another one?".

A teacher's great joy is to see her students actively involved in their own learning and helping one another. I am eager to see if the novelty of blogging wares off, or if the desire to communicate their own ideas with a larger audience maintains the initial enthusiasm.  Either way, I am very pleased with our new venture into the world of blogging.  I am continually amazed at how quickly my students learn when they are truly interested and engaged in what they are doing.