January 2008

I’ve been thinking about the make up of my professional learning community. Who are the people I talk to, collaborate with and discuss new ideas? My professional learning community is the world wide network of educators who like me, are trying to integrate technology into their classroom. My PLC is outside the walls of my school and possibly the limits of my city. My closest collaborator lives within the same province but we’ve never met. I receive feedback from a teacher in Seattle and I reguarly share ideas with a teacher in Beiruit, Lebanon. I’ve received wonderful emails from teachers in Korea, Australia and throughout the United States. I’ve just been chatting to a teacher/librarian in Rhode Island who shares the same sense of humour as I do. Today when I was looking at novels in the library I started wondering who might want to collaborate on a novel study after Easter. These wonderful people in my PLC encourage me to think beyond my classroom and push the boundaries of my four walls.

These are a few comments from Jim’s assignment from last Friday. Hi I’m Riderfan from Ms.browns grade 6/7 room.I got your comment bout my car.that was really funny.I love the color pink.Thats why I want a pink car.everything of mine is pink.My computer desk is pink and my room is also pink.Comment back Riderfan:):D
Comment Posted on January 23, 2008 at 01:13 PM by riderfan

i liked doing this but did not put it on
my blog yet

Comment Posted on January 23, 2008 at 01:02 PM by fluffyman2.0

hi Mr.Ellis I had lots of fun doing this project can’t wait to find out what next weeks prolect is see you!
Comment Posted on January 19, 2008 at 05:51 PM by hawaiiangirl

I really enjoyed reading the students’ stories. I had some time to check out some of their blogs. Great work!
Comment Posted on January 18, 2008 at 11:12 PM by Mrs. Ferguson

OK – this project is just too cool! Two teachers – two classrooms – one assignment! I too, am looking forward to reading the students’ writing.

Comment Posted on January 18, 2008 at 11:45 AM by Donna DesRoches

Good morning Jim,

Looks like you had fun working with jumpcut. Great assignment. I’m looking forward to knowing what the students will wish for.

Comment Posted on January 18, 2008 at 07:28 AM by kimberly.brown

My collaborative partner, Jim, and I have been experimenting for two and a half weeks with our own Thinwalled Classroom. Each Friday we are giving our classes a shared writing assignment. One week I assign the writing topic and the next week Jim does. We post the assignment on our own class blogs each week. In my room we use the data projector and read the assignment together. If the students need to look at the assignment again they look at our blog pages. Students then do their writing in their notebook prior to writing on their blog. Jim reads and comments to my class’ writing while I read and comment to his. The students are really enjoying feedback from another teacher and look forward to our comments. Both Jim and I are pleased with the writing our students are doing as well as the comments we’ve received from them about our collaboration.
It’s my turn this week so I better get going and prep for the assignment.


Tonight there was discussion on the benefits of blogging. Once you start looking through journal articles there many articles about blogging. Some of the articles are a bit old but still relevant.

In Instructional Blogging: Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, and Peer Input Stuart Glogoff (2005) explains, “ . . . instructional blogging offers additional opportunities to engage students and extend the virtual classroom.” Glogoff (2005) examines the opportunities that blogging provides
to students including reading, critical thinking, commenting, real-world experiences and meaningful ways to interact with others. Glogoff (2005) also discusses the three instructional techniques that blogging in the classroom use: receptive, directive and guided discovery.Glogoff (2005) also discusses the pedagogy behind the use of blogs in teaching and learning.

In Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom Mollie Crie (2006) explains the basic information about what are blogs, the educational benefits of blogs and ways to use blogs in the classroom. Crie (2006) also discusses some risks to consider when using blogs in a classroom.

In Content Delivery in the “Blogosphere” Richard E. Ferdig and Kaye D. Trammel (2004) examine the potential benefits of blogging for educators. Ferdig and Trammel (2004) also describe the pedagogy of blogs and why blogs should be used as an educational tool. Ferdig and Trammel (2004) list some practical ideas for teachers beginning to use blogs in their classrooms. According to Ferdig and Trammel (2004) there are four benefits of student blogging: The use of blogs helps students become subject-matter experts, the use of blogs increases student interest and ownership in learning, the use of blogs gives students legitimate chances to participate and the use of blogs provides opportunities for diverse perspectives, both within and outside the classroom.

In The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the Classroom David Huffaker (2005) explores how blogs promote literacy in schools. Huffaker (2005) questions how blogs can enhance learning environments and if classroom settings are appropriate settings for their use. The article hypothesizes that blogs are an important addition to any school because they promote literacy through storytelling, allow collaborative learning, provide anytime-anywhere access, develop an on-line community of learners and provide for self-expression. Huffaker’s article focuses on the implications for storytelling because he believes it is the beginning of literacy.

Laurie Armstrong, Dr. Marsha Berry and Reece Lamshed focused their research and article on the use of blogs by students as learning journals. In Blogs as Electronic Learning Journals (2006), the authors developed a blog site for their research and used three different groups of students to participate in the study. The study explored the potential of blogging technology in education and training for student communication. The authors also studied how the use of blogs could be adapted to learning content delivery, student mentoring, professional development, collaboration and knowledge management. The study found that the use of blogs provided an interesting and innovative way to improve communication skills of their students. The authors also found that the use of blogs improved educators’ communications with their students. The research also found that blogs create a group of students that are more eager to interact and commit to writing in their blogs. The authors also found that individual students have a sense of control over their learning when they can document their learning and immediately publish their work in order to have immediate feedback. The disadvantage to this study was that it focused on the use of blogs for university but the goals and findings of the research can be transferred to many groups of students.

Here’s the title of another article in jstor about distance writing and audience. Blog Your World has some interesting thoughts and links on the benefits of blogging. The same author offers a slideshow with blogging information. Here’s some information from a survey of classblogmeister teachers from May, 2007. In Classroom Blogging A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere David Warlick (2005) has created a step-by-step guide for teachers to use blogging in their classroom. Warlick (2005) makes the point that blogging is communication in the new millennium. Warlick (2005) states that:
Literacy = Communication (reading + writing)
Blogging = Communication (reading + writing)
Blogging = Literacy (p. 110).

I’m obviously a fan of blogging in the classroom.


Writing Assignment

Last Friday saw the beginning of a Thinwalled Classroom collaboration between myself and a teacher in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. We were inspired by Clarence Fisher’s blog about his Thinwalled Classroom work. I’ve chatted a couple of times with Clarence about his project and was looking forward to starting my own with my partner, Jim. We decided to start small with a weekly shared writing assignment. I began last Friday with a slideshow which I posted on my classroom blog. I told the students a little about myself and asked them to write about themselves. Jim and I agreed that we would read then comment to the each other’s class. It was a great opportunity to meet Jim’s students in North Battleford and Jim met my class. Jim was pleased with how this assignment motivated some of his reluctant writers. Next week is Jim’s turn to give the writing assignment. I’m looking forward to see what the assignment will be about.

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