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Creating a Blogging Scope and Sequence

2010 November 7

Update: We are all finished with the YIS version of the Blogging Scope and Sequence – please feel free to have a look! The collaborative doc is still open for editing too.

A few weeks ago I had an absolutely fantastic meeting with our English Department at YIS. They asked me to come in and talk about blogging: what it is, how it works and how it can be used in English. Naturally, I was way too excited (isn’t it every tech facilitator’s dream to be invited into a department meeting to talk about integrating technology?), but it turned out even better than I could have hoped.

First of all, the English department is wonderful! Not only did they let me monopolize their entire weekly meeting time, but they have already invited me back for another discussion. The entire team was very enthusiastic about trying something new (none of them have really worked with blogs before), and they were so quick to see the connection to literacy – not just using blogging as an opportunity to publish writing, but as an actual form of writing, and just as important as the others they already teach.

One of the highlights of the conversation centered around a section (on p. 32) of Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcast and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom that articulates so perfectly the different levels of blogging:

  • Posting assignments (Not blogging)
  • Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
  • Posting links. (Not blogging)
  • Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
  • Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
  • Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
  • Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
  • Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging).

As soon as they saw the progression from what they originally thought was blogging (a simple publishing tool) to a much more thoughtful, consistent, metacognative practice that builds over time, they were hooked. They could immediately see that this is something beyond just doing old things in new ways, being trendy or using technology for technology’s sake (something I would never advocate).

Next Steps: Creating a Scope and Sequence

CC Flickr Image by churl

Now that they are super excited about the idea and ready to get started, one of the first follow-up questions I was asked (by my absolutely fantastic Vice Principal, Susie, who also teaches English) was for a blogging scope and sequence. Something that can provide a scaffolded list of skills to help them understand the embedded skills in blogging – the kind of skills that a blogger would take for granted, but a non-blogger might not think about. They feel that they understand the more traditional skills already (obviously) but don’t really know what needs to be taught for digital literacy. Although we’re starting with blogging, this could easily be applied more widely to other forms of digital literacy.

In the past, I would normally discourage this kind of documentation in favor of trying to work more closely with the teachers, scaffold their skills and naturally just embed the digital literacy skills as we progress. But, I’m starting to feel like it’s a little unfair to just expect teachers to go along with me without really knowing (in very concrete terms) where we’re going, that these teachers are super keen and competent and might not need as much handholding from me if they had a structure to follow, and that maybe it’s just time to put a scope and sequence together. It’s not like blogging is something new anymore…

Of course, this would be much easier if we had a scope and sequence for writing to begin with – just a standard format to follow that we could embed digital literacy skills into at each level (something like this). But, since we don’t have one already in place, I figure we can start with a basic overview for blogging. Considering I couldn’t find one to build on when I did a simple Google search, it seems like something that might be useful to more teachers than just us at YIS.

Collaboration Time!

CC Flickr Image by Paolo Margar

I’ve created a very basic beginning, based on some fantastic work that the always amazing Chrissy Hellyer did last year at ISB for their Grade 5 Digital Literacy unit as part of the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (which built onan earlier unit that JeffTara and I worked on together), but I need help! It’s a big project and I know I’m not going to be able to think of every facet or write it from the perspective of an English teacher. Plus, I think (hope) this could be useful in other schools as well.

So please, add your two cents to this document! Feel free to edit as much as you want – a crowd-sourced scope and sequence will surely be many many millions of times better than what I can put together on my own. Please don’t forget to add your name as a document contributor so everyone who participates is credited. And, of course, feel free to use the finished product in your own school!

Thanks in advance! I’m so looking forward to seeing what we can all create, together!

Image Credits:

Writing sample: Lamy Vista on Flickr by churl

il mondo è fatto a scale [stairs in lecce, salento, italy] on Flickr by Paolo Margari

15 Responses leave one →
  1. November 7, 2010

    Thanks for using that snip, Kim, and I’m glad it helped. Since that writing (which I found I had originally posted on my blog almost six years ago now…yikes!) I’ve also been thinking a lot about the “connective” nature of blogs, the idea that we write in blogs with the intention not just to publish ideas to the world but to really connect to others and get feedback. (Kinda what’s happening here, right now.) If one of the affordances of the technology is that readers can interact, how does that change the intention of the writing. Bud Hunt as put together some resources on that idea in case you haven’t seen them. They might add to your discussion.

    Cheers!
    Will Richardson´s last blog post ..Ideas Wanted- “Basketball Math”

  2. November 7, 2010

    Hi Kim,

    I’m writing this comment before I even click the link to go look at the document, because no matter what I find at the other end of the link, I’m already impressed with the methodology you’ve suggested for putting the document together. Teachers sharing together, working on a document that we can ALL benefit from… what a concept!

    One of the phrases you hear often if you’ve taught for a while is the one about “not reinventing the wheel”. I daresay that there are actually plenty of educational wheels that DO, in fact, need reinventing, however, what doesn’t need to be reinvented is the needless duplication of effort that teachers tend to do over and over again… How often do we see our colleagues in different schools struggling away at the exact same problems that we’re dealing with ourselves. We waste countless hours doing the exact same things that our colleagues in other schools are doing, and THAT is the wheel that so often needs reinventing.

    By the simple act of opening this document up to others to participate and collaborate on, and then SHARE THE END RESULT, you’ve just potentially saved us all hours of unnecessary extra work.

    Thanks!

    Chris

  3. November 7, 2010

    Hi Kim: Thank you so much for starting this document. Like Chris, I haven’t checked the link yet either, but know it will be fantastic work. I am sharing your post with the English Department in my school in hopes that it will give them some new ideas for connecting their work. I would also like to recommend the The Thomson Handbook as a way to help teachers organize online writing projects.
    Alice Barr´s last blog post ..Google Apps for Education Professional Development Webinar Series

  4. Sarah Kinder permalink
    November 7, 2010

    Kim – I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post on blogging. It helped me see the sequence of what I would call comfort levels – before actually using blogging for what it can do best. Thank you for laying it out so clearly. I think you are right that these are stages that once made more explicit will help teachers see the benefit and therefore put the time into exploring them with students. Given that we have so many options and tugs on our time – sometimes we need the rationale first. Again – thanks!
    Sarah

  5. November 7, 2010

    Hi Kim,
    I appreciate this effort to as well. I agree with Chris “How often do we see our colleagues in different schools struggling away at the exact same problems that we’re dealing with ourselves. We waste countless hours doing the exact same things that our colleagues in other schools are doing, and THAT is the wheel that so often needs reinventing.” We do this too many times.

    I am impressed with the process you are leading these teachers. When I look at the document, I realize how far my district and district teachers are behind the times. We continue to push and we end up not moving very far. But so many times as Chris points out we reinvent.

    I enjoyed reading the snippet from Will’s book again and can’t believe he wrote that six years ago. It anchor true today in the conversation we are having now.

    I just finished teacher a course with 18 teachers and our forum for learning has been the act of blogging. As I am reading their final pause and ponder reflection, I get a sense the majority got it and understood the nature of connective writing and how different it was from the writing they got their kids to do in their classrooms. They understood the power of connectivity and what appeared over and over in their own writing is how powerful connectivity with others (PLN) in the blogsphere reshaped their thinking about learning. Many got for the first time how the impact of networking has impacted their own learning. And now they are struggling to figure this out with their students (and with district, filters, safety, etc). It was a matter of their participation in social media they understood it.

    Bill

  6. November 8, 2010

    Thanks Kim!

    I find this post to be very helpful for me as our blogging is always a work in progress. We have two wiki pages going for our students on blogging, none as in depth as yours. Our class goals for blogging are basically:

    1. to pick a topic they are interested in exploring and to write on, critical, higher order thinking is the goal
    2. to learn something, read and provide a link
    3. to communicate what they learned and their higher order thinking
    4. to develop and on-line personal learning network

    I will give the link to our wiki pages:

    http://8comfort.wikispaces.com/Blog+writing+notes

    http://8comfort.wikispaces.com/Blog+Rubric

    keep up the great sharing!

    Tim
    tcomfort´s last blog post ..Professional Learning by Ryan Bretag

  7. November 8, 2010

    I am impressed, not only with your original post, but by all the wonderful information shared in the comments. Teaching elementary age students, I focus on what Will mentioned – the connectivity of blogging. Blogging gives students an audience for their writing. Twitters #comments4kids provides an audience that reaches wider than my students would ever imagine.

    I had the pleasure of listening to Will Richardson speak last week, on one of his rare Los Angeles stops. He addressed the idea of being globally connected, reaching out to teach and learn from others. One question he asked was, “How many dots are on your map?” Blogging, receiving comments, and commenting on the blogs of others, allows my students to add dots to their maps.

  8. Penny permalink
    November 8, 2010

    Hi Kim :)

    I’ve used this “paper blogging” activity numerous times and find it’s a great way of introducing the concept of blogging to teachers/learners who may not be familiar with how it all works. May be a good one when scoping and sequencing with the English teachers? :)

    http://mlearning.edublogs.org/2007/03/16/workshop-activity-paper-blogs/

    And in action:
    http://bookwyrmish.edublogs.org/update-on-paper-blogging/37/

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