Blogging Across the School District

Next year, my students leave the comfy confines of our elementary school to attend the big regional middle/high school. For some, this transition causes much worry and concern. They wonder about lockers, about bullies, about the food, about getting lost in the building, and more. (Funny — it’s the same worries I had when I was going into middle school).

Last year, a teacher at the high school and I talked about finding some ways to use technology to allow my students to ask his older students questions about the transition to the bigger school and connect them together some way.  We are both teachers in the Western Massachusetts Writing Project network, which made our collaboration all the more easier to get moving along.

This week, we got the project off the ground. We’re using a WordPress blog and his tenth graders began some introductions, and then my sixth graders did some responding and questioning (such as, in which class do you dissect the rat?).

We’re hopeful this blog will help ease the transition, but also open up doors for more collaboration among them as writers. I know my pal, George Mayo, is about to launch the SPACE online magazine again this year (see last year’s version), focusing in on poetry and multimedia verse, and I can see using our shared blog space for some collaboration and review before publication.

It’s exciting to be using technology not just for global projects, but also for local projects. And I had a great time remembering many of my former students who are now in that tenth grade classroom, remembering their sixth grade year.

Peace (in connections),

  1. Love this idea! The transition to high school is a big one for us as well. I am about to do something similar with 5th graders who will use Twitter to ask my 6th graders about the transition to middle school. I am going to pass this idea along to my 8th grade colleague whose students are about to leave their unrealized comforts of middle school and enter the large land of high school. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wonderful idea by teachers who care. I’m sure your students feel many of the same anxieties about a new school as my K kids do. The more they can know and understand up front the better. I’m sure much of what they hear outside of school focuses on the problems and hassles the older kids face. This points them to the good things about learning at a higher level. They will be more prepared and can/will jump into the challenges sooner with fewer distractions.
    Gail P

  3. Kevin,

    I think an added bonus of classroom blogging projects is that they can extend a sense of community for students moving on from elementary > middle > high school. In the two-year run of the Youth Radio project, for example, I actually saw Jim Faires’ former 6th graders revisiting the blog as 7th graders, delighted to learn that Jim’s class had ventured out for another round of the Megaconference Jr event.

    Technology might also be the key to providing a sense of community for many of our Title 1 students whose real-life communities tend to change several times a year, as they rotate through different living situations and/or foster homes. Recently Alice Mercer mentioned to me that a student (foster child) from her Title 1 site was transferring to my district. I’m so glad that she happened to mention his name….which I heard two weeks later while doing a tech session in one of my 4th grade EETT classrooms. When I told him “Hello from Ms. Mercer,” his whole body posture changed and he broke out in a grin so wide I knew he felt that boost that comes from realizing that just because you’ve once again left a school site, you’ve not been forgotten.

    Alice and I are now in the process of brainstorming and structuring a blogging program that would allow the many Title 1 students whose transient life styles often have them relocating within a 3-district, low-income housing region to stay connected to sites, teachers, and classmates who have made a difference in their self and world views.

    I’ll keep you posted,

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