08 October 2011

Reflections - Introducing Kidblog to After Elementary Pre-Teens

Age: 12 years old
No. of Students: 7
Blogging Platform: Kidblog
Other websites: ABCYa Wordle
Time: 60 minutes

BackgroundAfter some thought of whether to use PBWorks or Kidblog I settled on using Kidblog with this class. The reason being that our computer equipment is netbooks and to use a wiki for collaborative projects works best when all of the students are logged on. I am, however, considering using PBWorks for some project work with this group. All of the students have netbooks and use them at school therefore are quite familiar with using computers on a daily basis - although they generally do quizzes and browse websites, rather than create their own work online.

Lesson Outline
In this lesson, the students will prepare a short text about themselves, create a Wordle of the text, embed it in the blog and in the process learn how to log in, and navigate the blog. I had already created a model and logins for all of the students.

1. The students prepared 6 sentences about themselves on paper and it was corrected.
2. I showed the students the blog and the model, then demonstrated how to log in to the blog.
3. We went through the first part of the handout for vocabulary, and I told the students that they were to login in as themselves and type their sentences as a paragraph.
4. We went through the second part of the handout (ABCYa Wordle Instructions) and I demonstrated. The students copied and pasted their sentences into a Wordle and saved the Wordle to the netbook
5. We read the last part of the handout (embedding image in Kidblog) and I demonstrated. The students embedded their images.

The class was a complete success. The students were able to read the instructions, and follow the demonstrations with very few problems. One of the boys (yes I said "boy") even noticed a typing mistake in his paragraph and insisted on repeating the whole process all over again to get it right! If I was to do this class again, I would probably do it exactly as I did it.

I think one of the reasons this class was so successful is that the students are used to using computers. Kidblog, although not perfect and it has its limitations, is ideal for kids. I had already set up the accounts so there were no logging in problems. ABCYa is also intuitive, and as the kids are already used to using computers generally, there weren't the usual basic computer problems such as where to save images, and finding them afterwards. Demonstrating the stages supported difficult vocabulary in the handout.

The writing task was easy and something they have done in the past and the tasks chosen to familiarise them with blogging were ideal - challenging enough to engage them but not so challenging that they had lots of technical problems that can be demotivating.

I should add that this is was a small class. Whether the class will be so successful with 10+ students remains to be seen, and something that I will be trying with another class in the next couple of weeks.

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