To introduce the assignment, I needed to define for the students what a blog is, how to sign up and post on the class blog, how to insert links to the text, how to embed videos, what a category is, and what tags are and how to use them.
Wanting to give them a model, I posted an initial post about pruning wisteria bushes. Then I looked at the blogging rubric I planned on giving the students and realized my model would not be much of an exemplar, so I tried to add a bit more.
Their first blog assignment is as follows:
Blog #1: How do organisms affect one another’s survival?
Walk around your yard or neighborhood. Notice all the types of organisms, including plants, humans, insects, and so on. Diagram how the organisms interact with one another. Jot your ideas about the following on a piece of paper. Which organisms provide energy or nutrients to the others? What would you expect to happen if all the plants died? What about if one other organism died? Why is it difficult to make accurate predictions about changes in communities of organisms. Once you have jotted your ideas on paper, then go to the computer and add your post to our class blog.
We then went outside of the school building and took a walk around the pond. The pond was looking, in my mind but not the students', spectacular. The students saw a pond with dead and living algae and duckweed on it. When I made them all stop and started pointing out things to them they were quite amazed. "Look at all the fish in there! I didn't think fish could live in that!" So then I pointed out the fish nests, the frogs, the cattails sprouting, the horsetail rush, the turtle in the mud, the dragonflies, the spiderwebs, and so much, much more. It was a wonderful 15 to 20 minutes outdoors on a gorgeous day. I hope they take time to OBSERVE and ask questions about what they see, and to present those observations and thoughts to the blog readers. I wish I were a better writer and could give them a more interesting example as a model.