Something has been pulling at me since I have started to learn and understand my new grade five class. I was not sure what it was until I started to think of my last year’s inquiry on student wonderings. I thought about my little grade ones and twos who loved to ask why, who wanted to know more, who loved to find and create new wonders for us to explore. Then I started to really look and listen to this year’s grade five group, and it hit me. These students are not comfortable asking questions of themselves or those around them. They look at me with suspicion when I ask them for their opinions or their thoughts.
I give a journal assignment every Monday morning. The students are given three choices; First question is generally around an opinion they have (What would you rather have a teacher that is fun and does not teach you much or a strict teacher who teaches you great things? Why? Or what would be your ideal teacher?), the second has to do around creative writing (Imagine you found an egg in the playground….) and the third is free choice (here most write a creative story or about their weekend.) What surprises me is that I have a class full of creative writers and students who tell me how boring their weekend was. When I ask their opinion of the students they all stare at be with blank looks? Some of them ask why is it important for me to know their thoughts.
Then I had my students blog, well comment on another classes blog. At first the students were a little hesitant. I went over netiquette with them, and asked them what they would like to see if someone commented on their writing. Some students went with it, while others stared blankly. I then encouraged them to ask questions of the blogger. It took some time, but the kids slowly started to type. Once they did one they were asking to comment on more, which of course I said go for it.
The SEA in my room observed a great thing happen during this blogging time. She noticed a student who she has worked with for many years become a writer. The SEA was very proud of this student. She wrote out what she saw and experienced, ” A little girl who have very low self-esteem blogged yesterday. She found someone in New York that said their dog was their best friend. She was so excited to respond because her dog is her best friend. This girl would not write much because she has a learning disability and to see her blog like that just gave her a new purpose.”
Will having the student create their own PLN help them explore their own learning? Will it give them purpose to ask more questions of each other and themselves? Does asking questions go hand in hand with self-regulation? Can social networking help the students see themselves as thinkers? Will blogging encourage students to explore their thinking and learning?