Saturday, 8 September 2012

Connecting classrooms through blogging

Last spring, there was an attempt to get my blogging students into some meaningful exchange with my online colleague Tania Sheko's blogging classes in Australia. Unfortunately, due to several reasons, it never really got going. Firstly, it was our last few weeks before the long summer break, and a lot of other activities going on at school. Secondly, we noticed that the Posterous blogs used in Melbourne high school, were sometimes set to require a Twitter sign-in for the comments. As my students didn't have Twitter accounts, they were unable to leave comments. And there were other complications and delays, as usual in a school setting. To cut a long story short - it all fell flat in the rush of our last few weeks of the school year.

Come this new school year, and I decided to start looking for blogging partners much earlier. Having the experience of a whole year of blogging with students, I felt much more confident about it, and guiding the students was easier and quicker right from the start. I kept last year's concept of a class blog with links to student blogs in the sidebar, as it worked so well that I didn't feel any need to change it.

The beauty of having a small online PLN is that serendipity often plays a part in international collaboration! I had barely got my students to set up their individual blogs for this year, and had had no time yet to get any partner searches started, when I received this message on Facebook:

This was only two days ago, and already Tania has managed to get English teacher Nick Fairlie onboard, and some of their year 9 boys have also commented on my students' first ever blog posts. What a wonderful surprise for my newbie bloggers! Nick and Tania have also set a writing task for this coming Wednesday. It will be a good challenge for their students to apply their intercultural communication skills when writing to an authentic audience on the other side of the world. And afterwards, of course, a perfect chance for my students to get used to REAL commenting.I couldn't wish for a better start to expose my EFL students to using English in a real-life context!

Blogging is truly doing what Tania wrote about in her professional blog - 'Connecting our students to themselves, each other and the world'. It really is worthwhile looking at Tania and Nick's slides about their blogging process so far!

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