Learning, Teaching, Science, Ed Tech, etc.
Still trying to catch up with things, I’m listening to Sue Waters talk about the ins and outs of Blogging with Your Students and I am thinking about my class website/blog and all the trouble I’ve been having getting my students to blog.
Naturally, I have my over achievers, who are blogging their little hearts out, commenting on everyone else’s blogs, mentioning comments in class, and generally paving the way. There are others, who are struggling with putting their words online, but wanting desperately to participate. Then I have the “quiet ones”.
I read a most interesting book over Winter Break called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Just Can’t Stop Talking”. I read it because, I … am an introvert. The author, Susan Cain, takes special pains to talk about children in classrooms and other settings and how they sometimes are unintentionally overrun by their classmates during discussions and have a hard time connecting with others simply because they are quiet and laid back in their approach to life. Even if called upon to speak, they shy away, out of fear of negative comments or having all of their thoughts go flying out of their heads. (the dreaded brain fart)
Participating in the blogging part of #etmooc has been an exercise in “what do I say that will make sense” and “I swear, this is none of anyone’s business, but I really should mention it”. So, I can relate to my quiet students and their horror at my requests to “say something”.
As we consider student blogging, in addition to the great suggestions Sue and the participants in her webinar make, think about the quiet ones, those of us who have a great deal to say, but need different ways to say it. Blogging is the perfect place to hear their voices.
What I’ve started to do is make the blog a place to be creative. My students don’t always have to write, they can post an image or video (theirs or from another source) and write a simple caption, they can upload original drawings. this is for my artists (my son struggled in school with “talking”, but when he picked up his pencil and drew, the thoughts came alive on his page… he’s now in art school, being brilliant), or they can use Prezi or Power Point or other software to express their thoughts.
Its working. We started blogging just before Winter Break and I only got about 20 of my 138 students to participate. (I’m sure playing with their holiday gifts got in the way) Now, with our 3rd topic behind us, almost 50 students participating. This might not seem like a big deal, but, for me, it is. These are kids that don’t want to write and think reading is some sort of terrible punishment for simply showing up for school. The various obstacles that keep my students from participating ( no digital access being the biggest one) are falling away (Mrs. S., can I stay after to write something on my blog?) and hopefully, by the end of the year, all of them will be comfortable with the activity.
Getting the quiet child to connect takes patience and a great deal of positive reinforcement. They can do it, they have amazing thoughts to share; they WANT to participate and blogging is the way they can without being drowned out by their “loud” peers.
As I move forward with my classes, we are planning to connect with classes globally. Can you imagine how talking with a kid thousands of miles away will affect the quiet one? I can’t wait!
How do you accommodate the quiet student and still get them to connect in your classroom?