How can I link my students' learning from one year to the next? On the last day of school, I didn't want to sweep up all of our accomplishments and lock up the doors to the classroom. Our room was a laboratory for learning, and we need to build on this knowledge. I want to extend our skills by revisiting the students' projects and sharing their skills with the incoming sixth-graders. This idea of year-to-year sharing is not new. Of course, they already know about this in Finland.
Over the year, the students and I spent a long time learning the basics of blogging. We thought about the needs of our Australian audience and how we could best engage and entertain them. For example, they knew they needed to make their blogs visually appealing, so they struggled over how to include graphics and video into their posts.
And although they learned a lot, they encountered many roadblocks. Throughout our trials, we all became problem solvers, and I now have a group of students who are more comfortable with this writing genre.
Next year, I'd like to have our students focus on making more connections while blogging. We can start by reading last year's posts, including those of our Australian partners. Reading the writing will help my students formulate questions about their blogging partners. We can also use our student blogs to examine the craft of blogging. By analyzing the posts, we can have a discussion on what we learned about academic online writing.
We can build on the basics of blogging by creating more Internet connections. Rather than simply writing their own thoughts, they can begin to make connections to other relevant sites through the use of links. They can expand their messages by offering opportunities for further exploration.
Our classroom blogs will be a wonderful opportunity for collaborative learning, both in my classroom and the world at large. Since I had a fifth-sixth grade combination class, I'll have many of the same students in my classroom. They will be my experts. They will open the doors to the many possibilities of digital writing.