This week produced some successes towards meeting my goal of seamlessly integrating technology into my daily instruction. Unfortunately I also experienced a few setbacks (as is often the case when working with technology). The actions I have taken over the past two weeks to increase my classroom technology to include five networked computers were a success. Students were searching the Scholastic News Online site for blogs they wanted to post on. Many of the blogs on this site are an extension of the Scholastic News Magazine articles we use for our reading content. Students selected blogs on current relevant topics such as movies, music, books, news, and conflict resolution. Once they decided on a blog they wanted to participate in, they used Word to write their response. Students used writing strategies, sentence structure and grammar from our language arts content to compose their blog comments. On Tuesday, half of my students used classroom computers to work with partners on their blogs while the other half of the class worked with partners on identifying main ideas in their Scholastic News Magazine. The next day, the two groups switched activities.
The lesson was going well, students were excited and engaged as they applied their reading and writing skills in authentic learning experiences. The only glitch in the plan was when students tried to post their blog and received an access denied message. This technical issue will involve some investigating and problem solving that may require me to modify my action plan. One explanation could be that when students posted blogs last week, we were in the computer lab using newer computers with a higher operating system, which may allow the blogging. Another possibility is that the district filter system has recently blocked posting blogs. I modified the lesson by having students save their blog to their network data folder, and will post it to the blog next week in the computer lab. If the computers in the classroom cannot post comments on blogs, I will have to reevaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of continuing this authentic, real-world experience in the content area of reading.
This would also be an excellent opportunity to focus on the second part of my action plan by collaborating with technology experts in the district to develop solutions to issues such as accessibility to websites for educational purposes. As part of my next steps in my action plan, I will contact our district’s Information Services requesting access to VoiceThread, Blogs and other social networking sites.