Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Power of Connecting through Student Blogs

I am a people person.  I love to share, connect and collaborate on a daily (even hourly) basis - I find it energizing, inspiring and validating...and it helps me to learn and grow, both as a professional and as a person.  I am constantly amazed by the awesome things my colleagues are doing, and am grateful to have a PLN that is made up of people from various areas of expertise.

I was in a training about a month ago where the presenter mentioned a survey he had given to the leaders of various companies.  The survey asked about the top skills companies look for in new employees.  Any guesses about the responses?  The top answers given were... the ability to collaborate, and good communication skills.  These are skills we need to model, develop, and encourage in our students across content areas.

At the beginning of the school year, all of the staff members at my school are asked to share a hope and dream for the school year.  My hope centered around giving students opportunities to share their learning in meaningful ways (check out my video below to hear it first-hand).

When students share their learning with others, I find that they take ownership over what they know - and what they still don't know.  They are reflective and thoughtful about what to share and how to communicate it.  They collaborate on building a better understanding of the concept before, during, and after sharing.

Enter 6th grade math class.  A 6th grade teacher, +Mary R Moran, and I began co-teaching math last year, and together decided to be very intentional about teaching the academic language associated with the math concepts we were teaching, as we had many English learners in our class (I was the ELL teacher), as well as other students who seemed to have gaps in their understanding of basic math concepts.  We wanted to provide our students with an authentic audience for practicing the vocabulary they were learning, and we wanted to find a way to archive and share all that each student was doing.  So, we had each student create a math blog.  Students posted math reflections and work samples on their blogs, and then commented on one another's blog posts to ask questions, share information or make connections with what they read.  It was a great experience.  The students took pride in what they posted to their own blogs, and really enjoyed commenting on each others' blogs.  In addition, they had meaningful, authentic opportunities to share and practice their developing math vocabulary and understanding of mathematical concepts, and we could see their confidence in themselves and their math abilities grow as the year went on.

When this year began, Mary and I knew we definitely wanted the students to create math blogs.  But this year, we wanted to take connecting to the next level.  We started searching for other classes that were doing math blogs in an effort to encourage students to connect beyond the walls of the classroom.  On Twitter, I came across an awesome site called - a site by @MathletePearce where student math bloggers can connect and share their math learning.
Image from

The students are so excited to connect with other students from around the world on!  They've already started exploring and leaving comments on the other students' math blogs.  (We discussed the blogging golden rule:  You have to give comments to get comments.)  They also discovered their blogs' stats and audience tracking feature and are really excited to see that people from around the world are checking out their math learning -- talk about an authentic audience!

The power of connecting has been very evident already this year with this group of 6th grade math students.  They work hard to master 6th grade math concepts, they reflect on their learning, including strengths and challenges, they archive and share their learning on math blogs, and they deepen their understanding and increase their confidence by connecting and collaborating with students around the world through blogging.

How do students in your school connect and share their learning?  
Leave a comment below!

Would you like to connect with our math bloggers?  
Check them out here: