Thursday, August 23, 2007

Title: A few questions for the more experienced folk out there

About class blogs - I would love to have students continuing intelligent conversations outside the classroom, so that I wouldn't have 31 students outside the discussion while the 32nd asks a question or offers an idea. How do I factor my own liability into this? Personally moderating each and every comment will make timely conversation impossible; plus, I'm simply not willing to devote hours and hours to reading and approving student posts. On the other hand, I don't want a free-for-all.

Are there any tools that allow posters to write only to one particular blog or discussion board, and keep edit/delete priveleges to blog administrators only? That way the students would know that they would be held responsible for what they posted.

About grading - I like the idea of not docking points for summative assignments turned in late, as the focus should be on learning AT ALL, not necessarily learning at the same time as everyone else. However, I can monitor work that is completed in class to be sure that it reflects that student's own mastery. How can I ensure the same level of validity on work that is finished at home? This actually applies both to late work and to make-up work, now that I think about it.


The Science Goddess said...

These are excellent questions! I can't say that my answers will be at the same level, but I'll give it a shot.

As for the blog, you can use blogger and then manage the settings such that only students (and parents) with the right log in can see/use the blog. I can't say that this will alleviate concerns about comment moderation---but at least you and the kids will know that since only certain people are allowed on (and be sure your comments are set such that there can be no anonymous comments), you will be frequently checking in to ensure the quality of the entries.

My district tech people got freaked out over the "profiles" kids created, worried that every pedophile on the planet was going to lure them. They were a bit extreme, but the point about making sure kids don't provide too much information about themselves is well taken.

You might also consider using a wiki. (Don't be scared.) I really think this would give your kids far more collaborative power. Check out the education ones (they're free to sign up for!) at

As for the validity of the work, you teach older kiddos, so the mom and dad factor isn't as large as for elementary kids. However, the friend factor ("Can I borrow that?") can be huge. My suggestions are to find ways to put the onus of responsibility on the kids. For example, make them document that they have engaged in additional study opportunities on their own time (gone to tutoring, participated in a study group, come to see you after school...) and then provide the same assessment to be completed in front of you. Secondly, you can have them contract with you for the work. What knowledge/skills do you need to have them demonstrate? What other ways can they do that which are appropriate? Have them write up the timeline and plan for product---and let 'er rip.

The Science Goddess said...

P.S. You inspired me to post, including a tool I have used to help guide the level of thinking and products I want kids to show. Come over and steal it! Assessments and the Single Teacher

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Regarding your concerns about whether or not a student's mastery, as demonstrated by a homework sample, is genuine, here's how Ken O'Connor advised me when I asked him a similar question: ask the student a couple of pertinent questions that relate to the learning goal. If they stutter and stammer, that's a red flag. If they answer fluently, it's cool.

Clix said...

Yeah, a wiki is definitely scary. My concern is that it's one password for the entire wiki... and that some brat will be mad that I didn't let him chew gum in class and in retaliation will either post garbage or delete or otherwise destroy someone else's work.

Clix said...

Repairman - maybe I'm just recalling how much I hate confrontation ;)

I had a case just last semester where a report that was turned in was CLEARLY beyond the student's ability. I asked, "is there anything you'd like to tell me about this?" and at the time, she pulled a blank look. The next morning she came in before school started and admitted what she'd done AND handed in her own work.

It's just... dishonesty is beyond a plague these days. It's more like a cold - everybody gets it from time to time; it's "no big deal." So as much as possible, I'd like to remove the temptation, because the moral immune system seems to be weak already!

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