Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Progress In Building a Learning Network

Things are progressing in my building of a student learning network here at Winston Knoll Collegiate. The past two days have been spent with my first group of grade 10 art students activating their Google Apps for Education accounts, familiarizing themselves with everything Google and creating their first blog.

The main goal here is to create a place where students can display work and reflect upon their experiences. Until now they have used a sketchbook to do this type of activity. I want to move students into a more collaborative space in their learning. Students will now have the ability to look at each other's blogs and post comments on their classmates work. This will be done after teaching students how to objectively critique artwork.

Students that have a mobile device (almost every one of my students has one) will be able to contribute to their blogs and make comments on the blogs of their classmates using their own technology. My goal is to have them do their first critique next week after they have set up their blogs, become familiar with posting and commenting. To begin with commenting on the blogs I'm going to have each student post three or more compliments on other student's work on their blogs. I think this type of atmosphere will help to encourage positive and objective critiquing in the future.

These individual blogs will be worked into true learning portfolios. The blog portion will be used for assignment submission and reflection. Other sections will include research, brainstorming and planning for projects.

All of the student blogs will be linked from a central blog. This central also has a course calendar, assignments, photos from the classroom and an integrated twitter feed that students can post to by using a specific hashtag. We tried using the twitter feature today and it was a lot of fun. Our philosophy will be developed collaboratively by all students and I intend to use a Google Doc to do this. An embedded Google doc will also allow us to compile blog addresses and links of interest.

It's exciting. Students seem to be motivated and interested in using their hand held devices in a new and interesting way. I will be providing links to the central blog when we have more content added in and the blog has been customized.... I'm thinking of having the class collaborate on that part too!

If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to let me know!


  1. Hi Jason,

    Love everything you're doing so far! I like the lay out of individual student blogs that will also become learning portfolios. I like how they can all be found in a central location. What a huge undertaking you are making with all of the other blogs you are creating. I also like the idea of a professional twitter account.

    I was asking myself just two seconds ago, how would I use my word press blog with a class? Could I attach their pages to it? I think you've answered my question with Google Apps For Education. I'm going to do some investigating.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! It's going well so far. Kids all have blogs... this week I'm going to have them share something they like from the world of pottery as we are just starting our pottery unit in art. They must then find a classmates blog that hasn't yet been commented on and leave a comment on what they see.... This idea came to me as a way to inspire sharing within the community. Also, they're going to have to paw through a lot of shared things before they can leave a comment! Hope it goes well!

  2. I have to give Kudos to you Jason. As an educator of almost 20 years (yes I remember when the internet came to the schools for the 1st time) and really appreciate the effort you are making to help students remain engaged. It is great that you are using Google apps for education as their limited pallet helps keep the kids focused on the objective of the blog rather than the fluff we see on the web so much. Can't wait to see more as you develop it. Keep up the great work.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Google seemed like a good place to start as we have it in the division and I finagled my way into being able to create and manage student accounts. As the students discover their 30 GB of cloud storage and all the tools it should be a bit like a huge gift opening as we go. I hope they will branch out to other web-based platforms from here and share what they do with the rest of the class. The blogs they are creating can become a housing for anything else they might find that allows them to express themselves and share their ides with their classmates.

    Thanks again!