Blogging and learning are about conversation

When you blog you are having a conversation with others. In this sharing you can learn things you didn't know before. You can think about your own opinion and how to best express it. You will think about the language that others have used and what words will best show what you are thinking. And you are practising your writing skills. You KNOW that people in this class, in other classes, and all over the world can read and are INTERESTED in, your opinions. That is why I say learning is about conversation.

This lesson your task is to read the blogs of other Year 8 students in the local area. They are from a local high school and have been blogging since the start of the year.  Read a number of entries until you find one that you want to respond to. You will find lots of different personalities among the writings of the students and they will approach the issues they are writing about in different ways. You will not always agree with their views on what they are writing about.

Leave a number of thoughtful comments with writers you both agree with and disagree with to continue the conversation (make sure you are logged into to your own blog when you do this so they can get back to you). Then having read a number of different opinions on different issues, write a blog entry of your own on something that is interesting to you at the moment. It could be based on something you have read in other blogs, or a new topic.

If you refer to other blogs make sure you put in a link to that blog. If you can't think of anything to write about, write about the best film you have seen lately and why it appealed to you. If you have time you may like to look at this website as well to see if it would be useful to you or fun. Do you have any fun, interesting and useful sites to share?


Technology - friend or foe?

In your classes you may have noticed lots of technology use just lately. More and more classrooms have Interactive Whiteboards and you are often booked into com[puter labs to complete work for one or other subject. What do you think of this? Is there too much use of digital technolgy like computers and IWBs. What sort of technology do you think will be used in the future in education and at work? I would love to read your opinions about all this. Try and make some links to other websites in your post (maybe your favourite sites).

End of Term 2

I would like you to stop and reflect on what you have done and learnt so far this year (not just in English). Have you enjoyed the opportunity to blog? Why/why not? What is good about it? What is hard? Have you developed any techniques to help you write posts?Which entry is the one you think is the best? Why? What do you think we could use the blogs for next term? Have you some ideas for topics you would like to write about? 

One topic I thought my be interesting was if one blogger raised a topic they are concerned about and then everyone came in and responded- kind of an online debate. Would anyone like to give that a go? What is something you would like people to think more about, do something about, be aware of? So give it some thought and we will get going on that next term.

I would like to ask all of you to review your favourite book for the class. Try and add a picture of the cover design and don't use a star rating- your comments should explain it properly. Have a great holiday and try to do some posts. Have a great holiday and a good rest.


If I could snap my Fingers..


What would your ideal school be like? We are well on the way with the Middle Years Program which you will be the first group to do. What would be your ideas about what you want to study? What do you want to learn about? What do you want in the way of how the school day will be organised? Do you want traditional subjects or something else? Speak up!!!


Spelling City

This post is adapted from the class blog of Lynne Crowe who teaches Year 8 in New Zealand. Students are often concerned about about their spelling ability so when I read about SpellingCity from The Tech Savy Educator, I thought it would be useful to post it here. Maybe you could start using it and let us all know if it helped you.

She says "I found at least 5 reasons that this site is could really lend itself well to improving vocabulary.

1. Play a Game - After typing your spelling list into the boxes it provides (you can add as many boxes as you need), you can play a spelling game in which every word is given with its pronunciation and used in a sentence. NOT textually, but verbally; actual people have made actual recordings of the words you put in, so you can click on a button and hear a human voice say the word, and even hear them use the word correctly in a sentence, very much like a spelling bee. If you get words wrong, you can always try the "Teach Me" button, and the site will spell out the words you missed while also giving you the sentences they're used in.

2. Share Spelling Lists - The site is completely free (which is awesome), and teachers can create their own accounts to create and share lists with their students. You can create as many lists as you want, and students can find them easily without having to have a login. They simple have to type in the first or last name of the teacher or the name of the list, making it simple for them to find lists. Once they've found a list they can take a test, have the list "taught" to them with a review, play the game, or print off the list to work with it in the real world.

3. Lists of the Month - If you're a competitive type, or just want some recognition for your wickedly difficult spelling lists, you can nominate your list(s) for "List of the Month." When I checked the most recent lists, I found vocabulary words from the first chapter of "Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", soccer terms, and 3rd grade homophones.

Apparently, there's more in store for the website, with more games coming online in the near future. With just the one game, I can see how students might quickly become complacent with the repetitive recordings; clicking on the sentence or pronunciation button yields the same recording each time. This is definitely a site worth checking out for elementary and middle school students."