I'm working with one of the higher groups of kindergartners and our focus is writing. I love, love, love teaching writing! When we chose this as our focus, I was beyond excited. For the last couple of months, I have been challenging my group with different writing prompts and asking them to focus on writing good sentences. It was going so well.
Until I found out my students were bored.... One of my fellow kindergarten teachers made the comment one day about how her little guys who are in my group were complaining one day because "all we do is write." It broke my teacher heart. Here I was thinking I was giving them exciting, engaging writing activities, and, in reality, I was boring them to death.
Why were they bored? What was I doing wrong? I don't know if there is only one way to answer that question, but I think I've got a few ideas. What I was asking them to do wasn't authentic. It wasn't interest-based. Why would they enjoy it?
After hearing those words, I knew I needed to change what I was doing. I wanted to give them a way to share what they were interested in and to interact with each other about these interests. I wanted to make the writing purposeful and interactive. On my way to school yesterday (I have a 30 minute drive), I came up with the idea of blogging. This is certainly not a new idea. Students have been blogging for quite some time. My challenge was to figure out how this could work in my kindergarten classroom.
When I got to school, I decided to check out KidBlog. Within minutes, I had a blog set up for each of my homeroom children and each of my intervention group kids. To give them real-world examples of what they would be doing, I showed them a few adult blogs. I showed them my own two blogs (this one and my classroom blog), my principal's blog, and the Pioneer Woman's blog. They were so engaged as they looked at the pictures and gathered ideas for things to write about.
I set them off to work. Since I just wanted to get their feet wet, I had them write and draw a picture on our kindergarten writing paper. Then I helped them take a picture of their writing and upload it to their blogs.
On Monday, I'm hoping I can take them to the computer lab (old fashioned, right?) and teach them how to comment on each other's blogs. Our principal has already read through their entries and commented on each one, which was way beyond the call of duty! I can't wait for them to read his responses and to start to interact with each other.
The overall goal of this was to give the kids an authentic reason for writing. Have I accomplished this? I don't know yet. I know they were excited to upload their writing, and they did some of the best writing I've seen from them yet. My hope is that this excitement continues and that putting technology at their fingertips, which allows for collaboration and interaction, will give them a reason to want to write.