Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Blogs, Blogs Everywhere in a 1-1 Environment--With Design Lessons Learned Too!

Workflow and how students turn in work are issues that need to be dealt up front with in a 1-1 environment.  In my first year, the students turned their work in via email and I was inundated with messages!  Sometimes the students turned in three or four messages per period and they didn't always follow my naming conventions, so until I opened the message, I didn't know what I was getting.  As you can imagine, it was a mess.
My solution was to have the students create their own blogs, create a new blog post for every class, and link all their work to their blog.  Sometimes, the students would write their work or take their notes directly into their blogs.  Either way, there was one location for all their work, which was a win-win for both of us.  The students had no question where their work was for any reviews and I knew exactly where their work was when it came time to grade it.
My district is a Google district, so we used Google Sites and they were a very simple solution.  After the kids had created their sites they customized their looks.  Sometimes the looks were elegant, unique to the student, and helpful as seen below:

Other blogs helped students learn design lessons as seen below!
The design lessons were an unintended bonus, but the fact that each of my 175+ students created their own blog and understood the issues in maintaining a blog everyday where they posted and wrote their work, was definitely intended lessons in communication in the digital age.  
The kids learned the following lessons:
  1. their posts needed to be created everyday
  2. naming conventions needed to be followed
  3. all work needed to be posted to be graded
  4. posts from absences needed to be clearly identified
  5. missing or late work also needed to be clearly identified.
Students were given weekly blog grades and were judged on whether they had done all of the above.  Soon, most of the students were getting an easy A for their blogs each week!
I just needed to create a page with each blog for each class on it and grading got relatively easy.
With some minor tweaking, I am looking forward to using blogs again this year as the tool my students will use to turn in their work.
How do your students turn in their work in a 1-1 environment and how did that work for you?  If you're just starting in a 1-1 situation, how do you plan to deal with work?  Please let me know!

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