Learning from a question week: Day 2 – Starting our research & Opening a blog

I shared yesterday about how I wanted to engage a group of students in a passion-based learning activity that would allow them the freedom and time to research a question that interested them personally. Today we started our research and talked a bit, too, about ways to present our findings through a blog.

I had served as my students’ technology teacher last year, so I am aware of their developing abilities online as digital citizens. Thus, one of my teaching goals for this year was to get my students actively blogging in my classes so that they can share their thinking and assignments. I had already started this process with the high school students, but was waiting for the right opportunity to begin with the middle school students. Well, today was the day to begin!

We reviewed the central ideas behind blogging and I then guided the students to open their own student blogs through my school site on Edublogs. I provided some guidance on how to open their site and respond to a first post. (This was actually a great exercise in following directions.) They could also change the appearance of their blog through one of the many themes that were available.

The students took to this activity with great enthusiasm and I was happy to see how eager they were to share their initial posts. My goal for today was to get the students started right away in their blogging and begin researching their question. So, I decided to take a few minutes tomorrow to develop our ideas on commenting a bit more. I would also continue on-going discussions on issues related to digital citizenship. They were clearly engaged in what they were doing.

One opportunity did present itself during the afternoon session together when students started using images they found online as part of their blog’s theme. It was in this moment that we discussed copyright and the use of other people’s work. Was it right to steal an image and claim it as our own or use it without permission? What does it mean to present your work online? I reminded the students of how we worked last year to cite our image sources in PowerPoint presentations, too. This was a great opportunity to teach “in the moment” when there was a real need to understand and apply.

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