Over a week ago, @j_allen tweeted me and mentioned that my professional blog was discussed in a Blogging Session at #edcampkc. I was really excited about this, so when Josh tweeted out the link to the recorded session, I had to watch it. I was fortunate to watch three amazing members of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter present on blogging. One of these presenters was Nick, also known by many as @thenerdyteacher. Nick was talking about the Blogger's Cafe that he has in his high school English class. I've read some of the posts on his blog about this Blogger's Cafe, and again, I was intrigued by the idea. When I saw that his students used Kidblog to do their blogging (a platform that I use too), I knew that I needed to give this a try.
Nick's Blogger's Cafe operates as a backchannel in his classroom, where basically he has two students blogging about the teaching and learning that's happening in the classroom as it's happening. I loved this backchannel concept, and I knew that I wanted the same set-up too.
Having students blogging throughout the day though sounded like too much, so I thought that I would "open" the Blogger's Cafe during our Literacy Centre and Math Centre Review. It would be interesting to have a written student perspective on this review process. Since I wanted the cafe feel too, I decided to set up a comfortable area in the room for blogging (with some pillows and stuffed animals to help create an ambiance). To make the blogging portable, I thought that I would have my students write on the iPod Touches.
I initially set it up for students to blog in Kidblog, but I quickly found out that Kidblog was hard for the students to operate on the iPod Touches. One of my first students got her post published, but the other student got frustrated making it work. I then thought that the students could micro-blog on Twitter, and they liked this, but wanted a blog post that was not confined to 140 characters. A student actually suggested that we use our Litcircuits Blog for this, and that's when I remembered that @mrjarbenne told me to download the WordPress app onto my class iPod Touches. Perfect! The Litcircuits Blog was the way to go, and the students were the ones to come up with the idea too. Awesome!!
The best part though was not in the set-up but in the blogging. All of my students are anxious to be our daily bloggers. They are excited to write, and they don't even realize that they're writing. They are completely engaged in this writing process. They also told me that they need to be "even better listeners," so that they "don't forget to include anything important." Wow! They really get it! These six and seven year olds are developing their listening comprehension skills in a meaningful way.
Thank you so much Nick for inspiring me to try something new in my classroom and giving my students another wonderful way to write! For the parents out there, what do think of the Blogger's Cafe? What are your child's thoughts on it too? For the educators out there, have you used a Blogger's Cafe in your classroom? How do you make it work? I would love to hear your thoughts!