What’s a blog?

After a few days of post-stocktake clean-up, timetable finalisation, School Magazine redistribution, OASIS Library calendar generation, and numerous other urgent tasks, my first class for 2008 arrived this morning. It was out of housekeeping mode and back to being teacher-librarian and facilitator of learning.

This is a small group of six students in a Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) intensive language support class: four of them were “guest artists” from last term’s core values fables wiki project with Kindergarten. There were two new faces (plus – yet to join us – two Kindergarteners who were off at orientation activities this week). These students are wide-eyed, enthusiastic learners – great examples of students who will continue to leap higher when you move the goal posts of high expectations – despite limited language skills – and they continue to amaze me with their little successes.

To prepare them for the upcoming book rap on the picture book, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas, I prepared a worksheet I called “Ready to rap” – a set of tick boxes next to some (hopefully) familiar terms. (They participated in last year’s Possum magic book rap, but this year it is intended that Wilfrid will utilise blogs and wikis instead of email.)

Today’s activity was to give me a benchmark of their current understandings, and to give them a context for what our Friday sessions will be like in Term One. First, the students raised their hands to indicate if they recognised each of the the terms on the chart. Only the two newcomers claimed to know what a blog was, which was to be expected, as it wasn’t a term the class had need to use last year. However, I wanted to introduce it today. We then discussed the terms on the worksheet – as sentence starters – during a session of Circle Time – ie. the wand was passed around, to signify their turns, and the students attempted to complete the statements.

I wanted to share a few of their answers with you. Remember, these students are aged five and six, have a range of language difficulties – and they probably haven’t talked much about book raps and wikis since last year!

“The Internet is… something on Daddy’s computer.”

“The Internet is… book raps.”

“The Internet is… to play games.”

“A book rap is… magic. Possum magic!”

“A book rap is… on the computers.”

“A wiki… has pictures and stories.”

“A wiki is… something you can find on a computer in the library.”

“A wiki is… something you can find on a computer at my house.”

And now came the previously-unknown term:

“A blog is… in the water.”

“A blog is… in the pond.”

“A blog is… (much thinking, then a huge smile…) something you can find on a computer in the library!”

Yes! These students are ready to rap. And soon, they’ll be beginning to blog. And weaving another wiki.