Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Day 96 - Thoughts From Third Grade Bloggers: Because Even Though We Are Small Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Make a Difference

This post first appeared on the BPS EdTech Website

What do you like about blogging in Seesaw?

“Blogging in Seesaw is a way to be able to post your own work and share your work with kids all over the globe. I can also communicate and have a conversation with other kids just like me from all over the world. Something that some kids can only dream of. Not only can I communicate with other kids just like me I can also get their feedback and to be able to know what other young minds are thinking is a true dream of mine. Because you never know what they could be thinking. They might encourage you. Because even though we are small doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.”
-Kate, Fox Hill third grade
The paragraph above was written by third-grader Kate. It was her response to the question, “what do you like about blogging in Seesaw?” and was part of her fourth blog post published to Karen Saia’s third grade ELA Seesaw class blog, Ms. Saia’s Superstars. 

Ms. Saia’s students writing the first drafts of the first blog posts

How is writing in Seesaw different than other writing assignments?
“Seesaw is different from other writing assignments I’ve been given in school because you are able to just tap a button on your iPad to see someone else’s work that they have done. Not just one piece of work. You can see every single piece of work that they’ve uploaded just with a tap of a button! Another reason why Seesaw is different from other writing assignments is that instead of writing something on paper with all those erase marks and wrong spelling when you write on SeeSaw you won’t have to erase anything you can just tap the delete button. The digital device that you are using will let you know if you have incorrect grammar. But the biggest difference of them all is that the majority of my writing assignments are on paper. Not electronics. So you can see how different writing on SeeSaw can be.”

-Kate, Fox Hill third grader

Class discussion on digital citizenship and blogging

Why should you create a blog in Seesaw?

“I think other teachers should set up a blog in Seesaw because it will help students get better at writing. When I blog in Seesaw I try to do a great job. When you know someone will read your writing you will want to try and impress them. Over time when you get used to blogging you will atomically get better at writing regularly on paper. Then your report card will be all E’s( exceeds) your parents will be happy with you. They will congratulate the teacher for helping their child get better at writing and everyone likes to be congratulated. Writing is an important skill that you will use your entire life. The better you get at it, the better future you will have.”

-Rina, Fox Hill third grade

Blogging brings digital citizenship to life for Ms. Saia’s third graders.

What have you learned about digital citizenship as a result of blogging?

“By blogging, we are learning about digital citizenship. We learned that online you need to be a good citizen just like you need to be in the real world. Cyberbullying is an example of being a bad digital citizen. I went online to Google and I found the website stopbullying.gov: “Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.” When you don’t cyber bully you are probably not being a bad digital citizen there are other ways of being a bad digital citizen but they are similar to being a cyber bully. Now I will tell you how to be a good digital citizen. A good digital citizen “knows what is right and wrong Is not typing bad things, hacking other people’s account or embarrassing a person online Not erasing your digital footprint Not ” shouting” words online Is not uploading or downloading illegal stuff And not sharing personal stuff online about others or you” These are things I learned from the website BeAbetterdigitalcitizen.weebly.com

-Rina, Fox Hill third grade

Connecting Classrooms to the World with Seesaw Blogs

Like many Fox Hill teachers, Ms. Saia is open-minded and always willing to try something new with technology. She has been an active user of Seesaw since last year’s pilot, so when I approached her a few months ago and explained the blogging feature in Seesaw, I knew she would agree to try it without hesitation. Part of the appeal of a classroom blog for Mrs. Saia was that she would be able to connect her students to other third grade classes throughout the world. I think this fact was just as exciting to Ms. Saia as it was to her students! In addition, her students would be learning about digital citizenship in an authentic way. Like all Seesaw features, creating a classroom blog is a simple process and teachers can visit the Seesaw Help Center to learn more about creating a classroom blog. However, to make the process even more simple, I handled the technical aspects of creating the blog for Ms. Saia’s class. This allowed her to concentrate on collaborating with me to develop blog assignments that would align with the standards in the third grade ELA writing curriculum.

To connect Ms. Saia’s students with other students through Seesaw, I began by contacting other third grade teachers via email who were listed on the Seesaw Connected Blog by Grade Level document. I introduced myself as the Fox Hill Instructional Technology Specialist and explained I was working with Karen and her students and that we wanted to start blogging once a week. We wanted to connect with classes that would comment on our posts and our students would do the same. While waiting for responses to my request, I taught Ms. Saia’s ELA students about blogging as a way to share their writing with a global audience. We had multiple, in-depth discussions about the importance of the content of our writing, as well as the writing mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization). Additionally, we talked about important digital citizenship concepts including creating a positive digital identity through being kind to others when commenting and practicing digital safety by not sharing personal information (address, phone number, passwords, etc.).

Ms. Saia’s Superstars – pioneer of blogging in Seesaw

Our collaborative goal in creating a Seesaw blog was to improve both the quality and the quantity of students’ writing. We are extremely proud to say that we have accomplished both of these goals and students have exceeded our expectations. Since introducing students to blogging, Ms. Saia has seen substantial growth in her students’ writing skills. Students have published personal narratives, informational writing, and persuasive writing through their blog posts. Furthermore, students are excited to write and to share their thoughts with other students in places like Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas, and China. They are engaged in relevant digital conversations. They are learning in authentic ways what it means to be a digital citizen and these are lessons they will carry with them as they continue to use digital tools in school and in their personal lives. This will be a huge advantage for them as they continue their academic careers.

To date, students have written five blog posts:
  • An introductory post with facts about Massachusetts 
  • Their family’s holiday traditions 
  • Their New Year’s resolutions 
  • Their thoughts about blogging 
  • Their experience at the Lexington Symphony 

It has been incredibly rewarding to read the students’ blog posts and the comments they’ve received from other third graders across the world. I’m hopeful blogging in Seesaw is something that other Burlington teachers will consider trying. I am confident you will see a spark and excitement in your students if you give them this opportunity. They will become not only engaged but also empowered to produce their very best writing.

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