Building a Digital Community With Writing

Today’s Contributor: Evelyn Shyu is a third grade teacher at Brentwood Elementary. This is her 3rd year as the Campus Innovation Connector at Brentwood. Evelyn enjoys finding new ways to engage, inspire and connect with students through technology.

At the beginning of the school year, we are all working on building our classroom communities. We spend a lot of time in our community circles getting to our students and building positive rapport with each of them. This is such an important part of our year to ensure student engagement and success. 

This semester, while participating in the Transformative Technology Leadership Pathway, I read Amplify by Katie Muhtaris. In the book, the author talks about building a digital community. While I’ve always focused on building my classroom community at the beginning of the year, I’ve never thought about how that could translate to a digital community. With our chromebooks in hand, this was the year for us to take our classroom community ONLINE! 

In Amplify, the author suggests having students blog. I decided to focus on this one idea for my class to try their hand at. They can blog about what they have read, their reflections on their day and just about any topic. I decided to use a Google Site* as the platform for our “class blog”. This was a platform students were familiar with and could easily connect with each other through sharing. I started with a class blog that featured different students writing reflections on topics that we have learned about or events going on at school. For example, for Black History Month some students researched famous African Americans and wrote a short blurb to share. Another student chose to write about an author visit we had at school. Each one of my students also started a “Haiku-a-Day” page on the blog that they added to during their morning work time. 

I enjoyed watching my students interact in our new digital community. They were able to use this new forum to connect with each other and learn. I hope to create more opportunities for my students to utilize this digital space to express themselves and share their love for learning.

*Google Sites allow for control over who has access to see and edit content. A site can be set up in such a way that only users within your organization may view the content. This is a great way to give students access to a wider audience while protecting their privacy from the entire internet.

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