Last week I took four days off of my day job to travel around the east side of North Carolina and present material relating to the new NC Digital Learning Competencies. This conference traveled to four different counties in four days to work with teachers on ways to implement these new competencies into their classrooms and personal professional development practices. For any one who is familiar with ISTE or NCTIES, it was a very small version of that.
One of my presentations was focused on the benefits and resources for implementing student blogs or websites. I have presented on this topic before. In fact, my first three podcast episodes are made up of splitting this presentation into three parts. While the methods for delivery and details have evolved some, the core of the presentation has been basically the same.
The first time I used this presentation was at NCTIES this past March. While I sat in the session before mine, because I wanted to get set up as fast as possible, I was able to play with SeeSaw. Since I work on a secondary level, I had never really investigated the tool as a platform. By the end of that session, I had added it to my list of tools that could be used for student blogs.
As I worked through my presentation this time, I reflected on working with websites and blogs with one of my history teachers this year. One problem we came across, and this is one that I have come across before, is that students who are building a site on a platform that allows them to work with site design often get so worried about the site appearance that they neglect to make solid content to house in that space.
So I changed up part of my discussion with teachers who attended my sessions. Not only did we work through the steps of getting ready to use student created sites, we also talked about digital content creation and being mindful of creating a progression for students to be able to create content and then build the frame that could best showcase that content.
Looking at our work together made me wish that all teachers in elementary would use sites like SeeSaw or Kidblog which allow students to create and share content, but not organize it. As students mature and have a better understanding of what digital content is and how to create it, they can move on to simple site creation using Weebly for Education or the New Google Sites which both allow for drag and drop creation. Once students have a grasp of basic design and organization techniques they can move to a Wordpress format like Edublogs or even code their own site.
The point is that if students grew up with the mindset to be content creators and not just consumers, and we taught them how to focus on that content before creating the organizational structure around it then they would be ready to utilize those skills to show off to prospective colleges and employers.