Reflecting on My First Experience Teaching a Teach 21 Course!

This past Saturday I had the honor of teaching my first Teach 21 course.  Although I did this kind of training a few years when I worked in Technology Services and was very fortunate that fellow Media 21 colleague Kristine Woods shared her course template with me, I was still very nervous.  I know from experience that teenagers are more forgiving than adults!  :-)  No matter how long I teach, I still get nervous on the first day with a new group!  I was also nervous about disarming the school alarm system by myself for the first time….thankfully, the police did not show up, so I guess I did it correctly! 

For a couple of weeks, I have worked on taking Kristine’s material and adding additional goodies to it to meet the needs of my “students” in the Blogging with WordPress class.  Even at 8:30 on Saturday morning, I decided to incorporate two activities that turned out to be great:

1.  Working at the tables out in my reference area with the big presentation screen so everyone could see easily and sit together in groups, we brainstormed a list of “what we already know” about blogs; I used Inspiration to collect these ideas, and I will be posting it to our blog, www.bloggingfun.wordpress.com , as well as our Day 1 course page. 

2.  I then asked them to brainstorm a list of questions they had about blogging on a sheet of paper I cranked up prior to class.  During our lunch break, I typed up these questions in a table, saved the file as a PDF, and posted it on our blog.   Take a look at these questions…I was truly IMPRESSED by the depth and originality of the questions they asked!  I thought it would be helpful to use these to guide our conversation through the remainder of our Day 1 agenda and to be sure I addressed any questions we didn’t get to this weekend on Day 2, March 22. 

These two activities created some insightful and thought provoking dialogue.  These two activities wound up being a great segue to another activity I incoporated (thanks to Debbie Childress and Esther Brenneman who inspired me in our Day 1 Information Literacy class with this activity!):  earlier in the week, I found numerous articles about edublogging.  After our “what we know” and “what we want to know” activities/discussion, each person was given an article to read.  I tried to give each person an article that somehow tied into questions or ideas they had verbally raised during the previous discussion (questions came up during the “what we know” process, which was fine with me!). 

Each person read his/her article and could highlight or make notes in the margin if she chose to (no guys in this class, so I will use female gender pronouns for the rest of this post).  Then we did a “pair-share” activity in which classmates discussed “what stood out” to her with the other people at her table.  (By the way, I am now really glad that the class is taking place in my library…the participants liked that we could do some activities out on the main floor and the “hands-on” things in my computer lab).   Finally, each person then shared these thoughts with the whole class.  Everyone seemed to enjoy this, and several commented later in the day that the articles answered some of their previous questions and/or gave them a more concrete idea of how blogs can be used in the classroom.

After our lunch break, we moved into the media center lab and spent a good bit of time as individuals looking at blogs.   Many thanks to Kristine for her “Tour of the Blogs” activity!   While this activity took up more time than I anticipated, I think it was a great investment of time as many people made positive comments before the end of the day about this activity.  Several teachers loved seeing “real” blogs and getting ideas and inspiration.

Because it had come up, we also talked briefly about RSS and del.icio.us since I’m using those tools as part of our course blog.

While we did not quite get everything done I had hoped we would do (I was about 10 minutes off my anticipated pacing), I think it actually worked out for the better for us because we ended at a good stopping point with the building of individual blogs.  Our next session will focus on adding blog “bling” and answering remaining questions on our “list.”  If time permits, I want to create a space on our web page or use del.icious to tag our resources that can direct the students to resources related to a particular question.  I prefer to do it through del.icio.us—I just hope I have enough time to undertake this project! 

Overall, I think everyone left feeling excited about blogs!  I know some were slightly overwhelmed by all they saw, but I feel that way even now when I discover great new articles about blogging or new blogging tools.  You can never know it all, and you have to be OK with that—sometimes that is hard for us as teachers.  :-)  Right now, my mind is swirling with ideas for Day 2 that I can add to the already great activities that Kristine designed last year. 

I really enjoyed the day and felt good that I was helping other teachers discover the joys of blogging!  I am now looking forward to building our Day 2 page and tweaking it to meet our needs while still being faithful to the original course design. 

One other positive—the lunch break and the “tour of the blogs” activity gave me an opportunity to tweak the Day 1 page as we went along to accurately reflect all we did and to better chunk the resources.   I did notice some typos last night, and I will need to be sure to correct those on Monday.

I plan to send an email and blog post to follow up with my Teach 21 “pumpkins” on Monday to check in.  I think I might also try to find at least article or podcast for everyone to look at (if they have time) and to blog about it….I don’t want to put too much on them as they already have a tiny assignment to do by the 22nd. 🙂

I can only hope that the “students” had as much fun as I did as the teacher!

Buffy

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