I was assigned to Kathy Cassidy's blog Primary Preoccupation for my C4T for April.The first post I read was a post about commenting with pre and emerging writers, it was a post about her grade1 students and the comments they receive on their blog posts. She talks about how she holds a parents night at the beginning of the year to show the parents how to comment on student blogs, and how she gets students from previous years to help with commenting for her new students. She also teaches her students how to leave comments themselves. She encourages them to post more than just "I like your blog' and uses a chart in her classroom for reference. There is 4 steps to leaving a good comment. 1. Say something nice 2. Make a connection 3. Ask a question and 4. Re-read your comment. She talks about how learning to leave good comments is a long journey and once she is sure that her students can comment on their own she lets them start commenting independently. Most importantly she talks about how much her students love to know that something they wrote on their blog was valuable enough to provoke a response from someone they have never met.
I think it awesome how she holds a parents night to talk to parents about blogging and to show them how to comment on blogs. I really like the idea of a chart to help remind them of steps but still giving them freedom to write what they want to write. Reading about how much her students enjoy reading the comments they get, and how amazed they are that something they wrote was valuable enough for a complete stranger to respond to really hits home the importance of the C4K assignment we have done this semester.
The next post I read on Ms. Cassidy's blog was Kids Teaching Kids. She talks about what she thought were some great lessons about the difference between needs and wants. At the end of the unit she had students makes videos of one another showing the difference between the two. After reviewing the student videos she realized that despite her great lesson 3 of her students still did quite understand the concept. Instead of her reteaching the lesson to the students she decided to show these three students some of the completed videos from the students who had understood the concept. In no time, those three students were able to create a new video that showed that they, too, understood what the difference was between the two ideas. Just by seeing and hearing their peers explain it. So when a combination of the flu and extremely cold weather (windchills of -45f...brrr) caused many of her students to miss several days of class she knew that starting anything new would be pointless. She decided to review some past lessons and let her students that were there be the teachers for the ones that were out, by making videos of what they had been reviewing. The students were all motivated by the idea of being the instructors.