Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Note from Konrad Glogowsky - Our Special Guest

Hello everyone,

First of all, I'd like to thank Carla for the invitation to be part of your online workshop. I enjoy working with educators and am very interested in how electronic environments can help educators engage in meaningful professional development. I know that participating in this workshop will be an illuminating experience.

I've been asked to contribute to this workshop by submitting a blog entry on my experiences with blogging. Those of you who have seen my 2007 Online Conference presentation on initiating and sustaining conversations in blogging communities (http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=166) know that I am very interested in the role of the teacher in the context of a blogging community. I am currently researching various approaches to engaging students as writers and creating an online environment where students see themselves as contributors and not mere pupils. My most recent blog entry addresses some of the strategies that I've been implementing in my own grade eight classroom in order to engage students as thinkers and writers. Specifically, I am interested in strategies that can help create and sustain student blogging communities as places of mutual support and empowerment for students. The entry that I've written to initiate our conversation focuses on a specific handout that I developed to help students become more reflective bloggers.

I look forward to your feedback and our conversation on blogging.

The entry can be found here:

http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2008/02/04/towards-reflective-blogtalk/

- Konrad

52 comments:

Carla Arena said...

Dear Konrad,

Thanks for kindly accepting our invitation in a time we know it's really busy for you. You really show that you care, and we're sure your brilliant post about blogging, voices, feedback, assessment will certainly impact on the many educator-bloggers in this group and their classrooms!

Your post is a true inspiration!

Carla Arena
Explorations

Lilian said...

Konrad,
Thank you very much for the inspiring blog entry you've contributed to our group.
As I was reading your entry, I remembered the first literature review I wrote in my MA program; it was about using blogs in the university writing classroom. It's true that students become more self conscious of their spelling and grammatical errors as they publish their writing. Some of them may take an extra step and check the accuracy of their writing using an online dictionary or a grammar website.
It needs great courage from the teacher as well to delegate a part of his/her power to students.
My concern is what would happen if students shy out from pointing out their mates' errors!! In many societies, Egypt included, students would care more for their solidarity with their colleagues that they overlook their errors. How would the teacher in such a situation motivate students to actively participate and draw their peers' attention to their mistakes??
I'm waiting for ideas.

Vicky said...

Dear Konrad,
I sincerely appreciate your contribution, as I'm always interested in finding out new strategis for empowering students autonomy in the class. I think the use of new technology will help us understand even more reflective processes in language learning, too.
Thank you very much indeed!
Vicky

dvmunca said...

Dear Konrad, I really liked the Ripple Effect strategy - thsi is a good method to enable students to keep trach of their messages and the feedback they got from their peers. I will use it as a reflective component on the experience of blogging at the end of the semester with my intermediate students! Thano you!

Cristina Costa said...

Dear Konrad,
Thank you so much for the meaningful insight of the blogsphere.
I totally agree with you: for me blogging is very empowering, in teh sense it gives students not only a voice but also the opportunity to communicate and learn with others. And such approach is not only restricted to the classroom experience. It can be something they might see useful in the long term, and which might benefit their future careers and practices. You are giving them the tools to continue their (long life )learning process.
How inspiring is that.
thank you for giving us this opportunity of learning with you.

Consuelo said...

Dear Konrad and partners,

It is amazing how this tool can open such a huge universe of opportunities for teachers to explore in benefit of our own teacher development. It seems that once you are inmerse in the blogosphere you can not stop thinking about possibilities of enhancing its power and truly taking advantage of it.

I agree with Cristina about how inspiring it is too see the results of Konrad questioning on difficulties or weaknesses encountered through his experience with the students using blogs. Thank you for being so kind to share them with us.

Konrad Glogowski said...

I just finished responding to comments on my blog and then realized that so many of you posted your comments here. It's getting late, so I may not be able to respond to all of them tonight, but I promise to do so tomorrow at the latest.

Here is a link to my response to Carla's question that she posted on my blog:

http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2008/02/04/towards-reflective-blogtalk/#comment-143753

Konrad Glogowski said...

Lillian,

Thanks for your comment and a very, very challenging question!

Yes, I understand that in some cultures or classrooms, student solidarity may prove to be more important than being a critical and thoughtful peer editor. I think my approach would be as follows:

I would pick one entry from the class blogosphere and, with the student’s permission, use it in class to initiate discussion. I would focus on the strengths of the entry and ask the students to comment on what makes it engaging, for example. We’d look at all the different aspects of the entry and I would solicit their comments. Theoretically speaking, this should be a very empowering and supportive activity for the author. It would also give his or her peers an opportunity to think critically about the work without having to worry about offending their classmate.

Then, I would ask the author to point out one weakness or ask if at any point in the writing process she or he experienced any difficulties. Which part, in other words, was the most difficult to write? What proved to be the most difficult part of composing that entry?

Then, I would ask all the other students to look at their own work and ask themselves the same questions. The point here is that every piece, every response, every writer has a weakness and a good reader can spot it.

Finally, we would have a discussion on how more critical comments can be best communicated to the author. We would look at specific phrases and words that should be used when commenting on written work so that the comment can communicate the intended message without offending the author. I find that not knowing how to express themselves clearly and respectfully without offending the author is a big barrier that often prevents students from engaging in meaningful conversations about their work.

I would then repeat this process three, four, five times before asking the students to respond to each other’s work. I would also use blogs outside the class blogosphere or even magazine articles to practice the art of critiquing.

I’m not sure how effective this approach would be, but it would certainly be an opportunity to talk about the importance of choosing words carefully and thinking about how those words might be received by the author – something very important for second language learners.

I guess the key part of this approach is having open class discussions about writing and about specific work from the class blogosphere. It may take a while but it is likely to have a positive effect. The students need to see that writing is not something that we do in order to get a grade or to get paid. Writing is something that provoked thoughts and discussions.

Konrad Glogowski said...

Vicky and dvmunca,

I'm glad that my experiences can assist you in your classroom practice and that you find them helpful in your journey to implement blogging.

If you do choose to use this strategy (or one modified for your classroom), please share it with me. I'd love to learn from your experiences and see how something I've developed in my classroom can be used by other educators.

Your work might help improve the existing approach so please don't hesitate to blog about your experiences.

Thanks again!

Konrad Glogowski said...

Cristina and Consuelo,

I'm glad that you both mentioned professional development and lifelong learning.

The reason I started blogging back in 2005 (and even before that but provately) was because I thought that I needed to record my experienced and reflect on my classroom practice and my research. It was a great tool for informal action research. Gradually, as I began to form online relationships with other educators and building up my own network, I realized that having a blog was about more than just having a space to record my thoughts and reflect. I realized that it was also a place to connect with others and learn from and with them. And so, that is exactly what I want my students to experience. I want them to see that writing is not a solitary pursuit but an immensely enriching activity that can lead to great conversations and insights. I want them to realize the power of the community and see that writing is essentially a conversation because no text is ever truly finished.

mbi said...

Hello, Konrad:

Thank you for providing us with so much food for thought. My synapses are firing on all cylinders making connections! But first of all, I wanted to say that it is kind of exciting to see that you are joining us from Toronto, where I lived in 1988-89. (I am from Vancouver Island.) I am guessing you still have lots of snow?

My journey as a teacher started with reading about andragogy (adult learning, as opposed to pedagogy, child or school curriculum learning, if I can rephrase it that way). When I was reading Knowlton's definitions, I kept thinking, "Why can't those same things apply to kids??!" They, too, bring their own experience from the outside world into the classroom (including possibly past negative experiences with school or being "taught"), they have their own goals and agendas for what they want to learn and they should be included in the curriculum development process.

When my own daughter was born, I could see how much she learned on her own without being "taught" and how often she resisted being taught. My favourite story was when she was around 3 and wanting to use some computer software and I didn't have time to show her how, but just started it up and showed her the mouse and cursor and then left her to go finish something; when I came back 15 mins later, she had figured out how to work the games. I would never have seen her innate ability to learn if I had started off by teaching her! That led me to John Holt, Summerhill, unschooling...

The first book I read of John Holt's was "How Children Fail." and it has made me so aware of how much assessment goes on in the classroom, just even in the way that the teacher responds to students' comments. (Parents can have the same control over their kids if we are not careful.)

So when I listened to your presentation, I was shocked by how what you said and what your slides from the book, Flow , said related to my views on unschooling and child-led learning. I totally agree that assessment leads kids to think they have reached a goal (as do class bells!), when they should be encouraged to go into topics as deeply (or as shallowly) as they like. And I totally agree that ongoing conversation is a way of continuing to learn and develop our ideas that shouldn't just finish with this school year. I can totally see the power your work has in connecting students to their community (class) while also empowering them and helping them to find and develop their voice. I also really liked what you said about how eventually students will no longer need outside evaluation but will learn to trust their own internal system for evaluating what they are learning and how far along they are on the journey to achieving their goals. These are all things I have experienced firsthand as an adult due to the power of the internet and the various learning communities I am involved in.

But what I really want to thank you for is showing some really practical examples of how we can give feedback, how students can give each other feedback, the teacher's role... I especially loved your simple but powerful flower drawing for helping kids to get started on their blogs. A picture IS worth a thousand words. So often I find books provide us with a philosophy and we are nodding our heads and agreeing, but then they stop short of giving us the tools to start working with the ideas right away. After your presentation, I have lots of new tools in my toolbox and I can't wait to start using them!

And thank you especially for your response to Lilian's comment. In Japan, students are very shy about speaking up and giving their opinions and there have been a few cases, well-publicised in the media, of kids' really interpreting internet communication the wrong way. Done right, I can see that blogging could be a way to stop bullying and open up new communication channels, especially in Japan where sometimes not enough authentic conversation can go on during school time. Your really practical advice actually lets me envision how I could do this in a classroom here - I am that much closer to taking my first step!!

Thank you so much for the insight(s). I think it's time to step away from the computer for a while - my synapses are tired from all the connections being made!

Sincerely,
Alison Miyake
Yamaguchi-ken, Japan
(my first blog officially launched 2 days ago so I am really just figuring this all out, but the possibilities are making me reel!!)

Sibel Korkmazgil said...

Dear Konrad,

When I read your presentation "Initiating and Sustaining Conversations..", I feel again very lucky to be a part of this blogging4educators group, for I had a chance to know great researchers and bloggers like you, which once more proves the power of blogging and sharing. I'd like to thank you in advance for what you have presented gave me a alot to think about and consider for many days or even years to come.

Blogs have a great potential for encouraging reflection and self-critique through the ownership of a personal dialogue, which may empower self-autonomy. On the other hand, as you have clearly stated, it also provides a wonderful platform where collaboration and interaction take place.

Although my journey as a blogger has just started, I am planning to write my MA thesis on blogs, especially on the effect of blogs in establishing a learning community. I'll work with 3rd year university students who will become English teachers in Turkey where English is taught as a foreign language. In my research, I'd like to focus on how the class blog will have been adopted by the learners, what types of online discourse will have emerged out of this ongoing flow of conversation and how the class blog may have contributed to their development as they turn into a learning community (in terms of peer interaction, levels of commitment or engagement to their tasks or to one another, etc.) :))

The framework you have presented includes invaluable insights into the evaluation and assessment of the learning process and I am definitely sure that following your study and research will give birth to much more.

Looking forward to your next posts and comments,

Best regards,
Sibel.

Konrad Glogowski said...

Sibel,

Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that my work is of interest to you and I hope that it will help you with your own research and professional journey.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to chat about your research. I'm really interested in your approach to your study.

- Konrad

jo said...

Wow that was great. I found it very inspiring and so well researched and presented. I am in the final stages of planing my freshman course and from your presentation I got an idea of a slightly different way that I can use blogs with my students. We do a research paper, and I am going to now use the blog as the process part of the paper, the gathering of sources, commenting on sources and the place where they can germinate their ideas and hopefully get the feedback of their peers in the process before they actually write the paper. Thanks alot!
Jo

webgina said...

Hi Konrad,
I'm working my way slowly through the tasks in this workshop. There is much to explore!
I really liked your strategies + ideas for encouraging self-reflection in the students. I'm on the cusp of introducing blogging to my classes--and I think I'll look more closely at the 21 Classes, so thank you for that tip...
I have one class that is fairly quiet (shy? uncertain about their English skills?) and I'm hoping that blogging will help them discover their voices. There are cultural issues as well--some students struggle to come up with an opinion, several don't like partner/peer work and prefer the teacher as all-knowing decision-maker. I'm not sure how they'll feel about their work on "public display"--with warts and all, but I'm excited about this project!
Gina

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Hola Gladys!
Me quedé pensando en tu comentario... Moderados???
:)

Mis comentarios son moderados! ja!
Y también modero el de los otros... porque mucha gente durante estos últimos tiempos usa los blogs para hacer cable a tierra con sus problemas, y a veces, mal.

En mis blogs de aula no los modero, así los papis participan, pero el de RecurSOS y el personal, tuve que cambiar. Saqué los anónimos, y permito que cualquiera, con un mínimo de responsabilidad, opine...
Bueno, después me contás!

No sabía en cuál de tus blogs dejar este comentario.

Un besito!!!!

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