I learned about the Student Blogging Challenge through Sue Waters who was the Blog Guru and Fairy Blog Mother for #etmooc. She has taught me, supported me as a blogger and answered my questions so when she put out the call for mentors I volunteered.
I had never participated in the student blogging challenge before so I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t even really too sure how long the challenge was so I spent some time exploring the site. This is the tenth year of the Student Blogging Challenge and the site is a great resource for using blogs in the classroom. It has detailed posts about how to use different blogging platforms, digital footprint, blogging and commenting.
I was matched up with about a dozen students who blogged regularly. I visited their sites once a week and read and commented on their posts. I didn’t know them at all, but I had a tiny window into their lives through their blog entries. The students were from the United States and Trinidad and Tobago but their lives seemed very similar to students in Alberta. I also visited blogs by other students who were taking part in the Challenge.
Most of the bloggers I was paired with were blogging with their class. I was paired with two groups of students who were blogging in their Language Arts class. They usually blogged about the same topics; sometimes the same ones as the Challenge, sometimes not. It was interesting to read an assignment interpreted in many ways.
At first I was surprised by how long it took me to visit all of the students I had been assigned, read some of their posts and leave comments. Reading a post doesn’t really take that long. But thinking about it, and crafting a comment that highlights a good point and adds something or asks relevant question(s), and then deciphering the capatcha images that prevent spam can take a while. I read the post about effective commenting on the Student Blogging Challenge site and reviewed Sue’s advice about comments in her post about Getting More out of Student Blogging for Etmooc for advice on best practice.
Soon the number of posts decreased as students stopped posting as often, and some stopped posting at all. I also got better at commenting so it took me less time. Part way through the challenge the students were shuffled a bit and I ended up with less students, but most of them blogged every week. It made me miss being in a classroom, and connecting with students.
Last week was the final challenge, students were encouraged to survey their posts from the challenge and reflect on their growth and the connections they made. What a great way to encourage meta-cognition!
I just finished my last round of comments. I’ll check back on the blogs next week, in case there are new posts or comments but school is winding down so I think the blogs will too, if only for a summer break. I really enjoyed participating. Thanks for giving me the opportunity Sue. I am looking forward to the next challenge which starts in September.