Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book talks and individual student blogs

It’s hard to believe that there are just two weeks left until Winter Break. I am torn between being so relieved to have a two-week break coming and fretting that I won’t have accomplished as much as I intended with my students by then. Nevertheless, I am trying to tell myself that there is a lot to feel good about. Here are a couple of accomplishments that I feel pretty good about:
  • With just a few exceptions, my students are all engaged in their independent reading and finding good books they will enjoy. I learned pretty early in the semester that my plan for reading aloud at the end of each period just wasn't working; we almost always ran out of time before I could get to it. About a month ago, I tried a new idea suggested by my friend Jody, a teacher at one of the other middle schools in my district. I am starting the period on most days with a book talk, and then I read a few pages of the book to get the kids hooked. As much as possible, I choose books the library has multiple copies of, but I am also including recently published books. I have had the students start a "Reading Ideas" sheet; if they like what I book talk, they add that book to their list. I am also encouraging them to add books that their friends suggest and those they learn about from other sources. My hope is that they will all have a list of at least several "next read" ideas ready whenever they finish a book.
  • I am also proud of most my students for the work they have done on their individual blogs. I can't say that all of them are into blogging, and most still have a long ways to go improving their writing, editing, and proofing. That said, though, most of them are really enjoying the opportunity to learn Web 2.0 skills, to write for an authentic audience, and to read and comment on each others' work. This weekend, they are completing their third blogging assignment. For this posting, they are responding to a choice of prompts related to our current reading of Where the Red Fern Grows. To check out some of their blogs, go to my blog/webpage, select the Period 1, Period 2, Period 3, or Period 7 Class Blog from the sidebar, then select any of the student blogs links from those class blogs. You will also notice that the Period 1, 2, 3, and 7 blogs have student entries for each (or some) class days. I'm afraid that project -- of having a "guest blogger of the day" -- isn't producing the results I had hoped for. Too often, students forget to post on the day they volunteered for, or, when they do post, they don't take seriously the need to write well, tell about something interesting, and proof their work. Any suggestions would be welcome!

1 comment:

  1. It is fun hearing about what you and your students are doing. Any chance you can encourage your students to do a book talk via video (like a 1-2 minute Flip video) so they can add it to their blog? Maybe extra credit?