Posted by: shineonali | January 5, 2011

Project Proposal

For our final class of the COETAIL certificate, we are being asked to use the TAIL standards to design a unit or to modify an existing unit.  In a way, this is an extension of what we have done throughout all of our courses.  For example, during the first two courses, I used podcasting to have students teach others about reading strategies.  This year, I have been incorporating visual literacy into projects in which students share their learning and thinking.

This is my third year blogging with students.  The first year, I maintained a class blog, which all students participated in as contributors and commenters.  Last year and this year, students have maintained individual blogs.  While I am generally happy with individual blogs–they have become windows into our learning and make an excellent way to share student work–one of the big differences I noticed in making this switch was that the class blog had more of a community feel.  It was the one place we all went to…some students wrote lots of posts, others mainly commented.  But there was a sense of conversation that I find harder to capture when students have their own blogs.  We always have so much going on–and the one area that seems to get left out most often is reading and commenting on each others’ blogs.

So, my goal for next semester is to focus on effective communication and collaboration (two strands of the TAIL standards).  I am not picking a certain unit to work on per se, because I am hoping to find many opportunities to push in communication experiences.

The blogs will be a starting place.  Next week, I will start the “Slice of Life Story Challenge” once again.  Last year, this weekly challenge got students to blog more regularly, and leaving a link to their stories on the class blog reminded and encouraged them to check what others were doing.  I will also use the class blog more frequently as a place to start “side conversations”–putting up discussion questions related to what we are working on in class.  While I would like students to spend more time at home on their blogs, not just on assigned posts, but on reading and commenting on their classmates’ blogs, I need to give them more time in class to “hook” them.

Another idea I would like to try, in order to give students opportunities to communicate in new ways, is to set up real-time chats.  Using a program such as chatzy, students will first learn the basics during interactive read aloud, and eventually we will set up chats to support discussions in book clubs.

I hope that our focus on using technology to share ideas will lead to discussion of how to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations as well.

We learn through our interactions with others.  If we can increase the quality and quantity of these interactions in our classrooms, we can improve learning.



  1. Your post got me thinking about different ways to get students excited about reading. I’m an elementary librarian. I really found it interesting the difference you noticed between individual and classroom blogs. I have a book blog but can’t get students to comment on it. They comment to me in person and I know some read it but they don’t write comments on it. I want what you said your classroom blog does which is create a “community” where students are discussing homework, but in my case, I want them to discuss books. I am quite interested in your use of chatzy for book clubs. I will have to look into that program. Please write a post if you do this with students.

    I show the students video book trailers from Scholastic and it might be interesting to have a live chat. Maybe I can have students comment on the trailer or suggest other books that are similar to the ones I’m showing the class. I’m just not sure how to “hook” the students on a community book blog and I only see students every 10 days which can be a stumbling block for projects that have a timeliness issue. That’s why the chatzy sounds interesting. I also just gave a lesson on story mountains and I like the idea of adding a live chat where they write the events as they happen. Your blog has given me all sorts of ideas! Thanks!

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