Last Tuesday, all the coach/mentors for our district EETT grant had the privilege of visiting Mrs. Yollis' third grade class at one of the elementary schools in my district to learn about their class blogging process. Every student contributes to the Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog, with Mrs. Yollis as the publisher. Students write articles by brainstorming on paper, composing on their alphasmart computers, peer editing, then going to their teacher for final edit and approval. As part of the process, they hold class discussions about articles and critique each others' work. They also rate incoming comments and decide whether they are publishable. They only approve well written comments. Comments get a rating of 1 if they just say they like the post without giving any details. Comments get a 2 if they compliment, ask a question, or make a suggestion. I have sent them a couple of comments so far; I hope my comments were 2's! The class has also collaborated with other blogging classrooms as far away as Australia, and has held Skype sessions with them and commented on their blog postings. It is very clear that these students are learning excellent writing and evaluation skills, as well as becoming astute digital citizens.
I had already been reading the class blog and Mrs. Yollis' wiki about blogging before our live visit, but the in-person opportunity helped me to process some of these ideas better. I plan to take advantage of a lot of them in my own classroom. One change I made in my class already last week was asking students to address comments like a letter, including both a salutation and a closing and signature. I hope this requirement will help them to better understand that I expect their comments to be written like good letters, not text messages. I am also going to be encouraging my students to comment on Mrs. Yollis' class blog, with, of course, the goal of being rated with 2's. I hope to process and implement more ideas from this vibrant teacher, class, and project soon.
Do visit this outstanding blog, as well as Mrs. Yollis' wiki. The blog is on the Edublogs Awards nomination list for best class blog; you have until December 16 to visit the nomination page and consider voting for it.
Finally, CSLA folks won't be surprised that Mrs. Yollis is one of the graduates of CSLA's Classroom Learning 2.0.