Bob LeDrew writes about Kathy Cassidy’s first grade class in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where the students regularly blog and have a class wiki. Yes, that’s right, six and seven year olds are doing this, and the article Blogging 101 Motivates Students, in the Regina Leader-Post details how Cassidy has integrated social software into her curriculum: “In Kathy Cassidy’s classroom, Blogging 101 starts as soon as students arrive in the fall. The children learn basic computer skills at the same time as lessons cover writing and basic arithmetic. Within a few months, the Grade 1 and 2 students begin learning how to create and post their own blogs. “As soon as they start to learn their stuff can go on the web, they get very excited,” Cassidy said.”
This is an excellent and easily applicable example of how social software can be used to give students valuable core skills that they’ll need just as much as traditional core skills like reading, math, and writing. In fact, blogging can even improve writing skills: “Indeed, blogging acts as an important motivational tool for learning, said Dean Shareski, head of digital learning for the Prairie South School Board. Students are more motivated when they realize hundreds of people can view their work, Shareski said, noting interest in writing has increased since the blogs began. “It’s allowed them to connect with learning in a meaningful way, in a way textbooks can’t,” he said.”
What’s more, when I looked at the class wiki, they’re in the midst of an exercise called 1000 Names, which is one of the coolest uses of a wiki I’ve seen so far: “My grade ones and twos want to know what 1000 looks like. We are collecting 1000 names. Can you help us by adding your name to our wiki? Just click on edit at the top of the page, add the next number and your name at the bottom, then click save.” I added mine, number 1011, a link to Using Wiki in Education, and a note about this post so the students see that other bloggers are impressed with what they’re doing!