Monday, September 24, 2007

Parents, Blogs, and Socratic Seminar

Midterm grades close this Friday. It's hard to believe we're already halfway into the first quarter. Yet then again, it feels like we've been at it for awhile.

Last week I met about sixty parents at open house. It was great to see such a strong turnout and meet those responsible for the fantastic students I've been blessed with this year. Today, for example, one of my 9th grade classes had a Socratic seminar on Steinbeck's The Pearl. The kids asked rich questions, listened to and built off each others' responses, and waited to be called on by the student moderator before speaking. The students were respectful, sincere, and well prepared.

The day after open house I gave a presentation about using technology to enhance one's practice at our district's mentor/protegee meeting. I plan to blog more about that later and post links to a variety of resources that helped me launch my blog and use electronic tools in the classroom.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a teacher in Florida who wanted to know how I was able to avoid cyber-bullying on my student blog pages. I did iterate with students that the blogs were an academic space, and modeled for them what would be considered an acceptable comment. I also provided specific instructions (posted on the student blog pages) for commenting that depended on the nature of the assignment and the type of feedback I wanted them to provide.

Because I was the sole administrator of the blogs, only I could make blog posts, and I was free to delete any comments that were inappropriate. I think I removed about five comments total, and that was largely because they didn't follow the prompt instructions, not because they were vulgar.

For more about my experiences blogging with students, read this post from earlier.

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