Friday, May 9, 2014

A Class Project Success!

We did it! In the middle of April, I really wondered if we were going to make it to the end of the month without anyone’s posts getting lost and everything getting turned in. As a teacher at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, I have mentioned how much I wanted the students to write for a world-wide audience.  They have been so pleased with the comments that they have received and were consistently asking if their post got more comments.  Thank you to everyone who has viewed and especially those who have commented—it has been a great experience!

I also wanted to spend this post giving advice to other teachers thinking about using this as a class project. It was really nice to have an audience for the students.  I was able to have them practice research skills and citation skills.  It is great to have an excuse to go over MLA format that students see as helpful to them instead of just tuning it out! The choice in the topic was helpful for the students too.  The letters were selected randomly out of a hat, but they got to choose what they wrote about with the letter.  The variety has been great to see!!  To pick the topic, I had the students split up into small group.  Each student had a paper with their letter at the top.  I had each student brainstorm for two minutes everything that they could think of that started with that letter that has to do with their class.  Then they passed the paper to the next person in the group.  With each group member, they brainstorm everything that they can think of for their peer’s letter.  If they think of something someone else did, then they put a checkmark by it. This helped some students pick a unique idea or one that they thought might be easier.

One thing that was really tricky with this challenge was commenting on other people’s post.  Some students didn’t see the point of reading a post and commenting on it.  That was a surprise for me. Other students really enjoyed learning something new.  It was tricky to do the commenting with our limited computer use, so I was printing blog posts.  I had to be selective because some blogs wouldn’t print without ads or “follow me” pop-up windows getting in the way.

Overall, the experience was a great one for the students.  If I do it again next year, I will need to start earlier to give some students more time and have more contingencies for the ones that don’t turn in posts.

Yay we did it!