Upon deciding that I want to use Kidblog with my students next year, I began thinking about how I will manage 60+ student blogs. If I require students to post on their blogs for assignments, I’ll need an efficient way to check their work. Visiting 60+ different blogs daily doesn’t seem very efficient. This is where RSS feed come into play. I can use my “The Old Reader” account to subscribe to each my students’ blogs. Yes, this might be a tedious task at first, inputting all their blog addresses, but after the initial work is complete, I will be able to see all new blog activity automatically, instead of visiting their individual pages. This takes the detective work out of things – I won’t need to hunt around for what I’m looking for, instead, the new content that my students post will come to me. I love the idea of using RSS feeds to monitor what happens on my students’ blogs. Using RSS will enhance my own learning by making my ability to access to my students’ blogs frequent and manageable.
Honestly, my classroom needs a makeover. When I look around my fifth grade classroom on a typical day, I see fifth graders engaging with curriculum using the traditional paper and pencil method. Yes, they are working collaboratively. Yes, they are being challenged with higher order thinking prompts. But no, technology is not permeating my classroom like it should be. Why not? My excuses are typical, yet true. How can I constantly utilize technology when there is one mobile laptop cart to be shared among three classrooms? How will I manage my classroom when it takes some students ten minutes to type a sentence and other students ten seconds? How will I find the time to teach online etiquette when I barely have time to teach my content?
Although my hesitations contain elements of truth, there is another truth that cannot be ignored. The increasing technology in our society has changed the way students learn. Web 2.0 has changed the way students gain, create, and distribute information. It has changed the way students collaborate. It has changed the way students engage with content. Therefore, my classroom must change.
I know that my classroom must become a place where students constantly have the opportunity to increase their digital literacy skills. Now it’s time to make that knowledge a reality by finding a way to overcome my hesitations, and make my classroom a place where Web 2.0 tools are more commonplace than worksheets. It’s time that my classroom not only prepares my students for with content knowledge for the future, but also with digital literacy skills that will ensure their success in their future careers. To do this, my goal is to start small by selecting a handful of developmentally-appropriate Web 2.0 tools that I can begin implementing with my fifth graders next school year. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with all that Web 2.0 has to offer and stressing out over trying to do it all, I want myself and my students to become experts on only a few tools. This way, we can focus on quality, not quantity. In my classroom, I want to ensure that technology is used to aid learning, and not used simply for the sake of using technology.
If I’m able to achieve this goal, I see my classroom as a place where students are collaborating on group projects using wikis, posting comments about novels they’ve read to blogs, and both learning and teaching content through podcasts and screencasts. I’ve got some work to do, but I know my students will be receptive and as students from the “Net-Generation,” I know this is what they need.