Ownership and commitment. Every year as a classroom teacher I struggled to find a way for students to develop the class rules and to have ownership in them. I have many colleagues who succeeded at this, but I have never gotten it right. Some years the process dragged on forever with the kids wanting to prescribe specific punishments for each type of infraction. Other years, they wanted to have 15 rules which were too many to keep track of. Other years, they went through the motions but never bought into the process or the rules.
Therefore, I was interested to find Steve's blog. He uses a class blog and now group blogs as part of his grade 9 World History course. As a late-comer to his blog, I finally took the time to read the earlier posts and came across this gem of a lesson in which the class develops their Acceptable Blog Use policy.
I hope he publishes a later post reflecting on how the process worked. Even more, I wish I could observe the process in action, see how he balances the need to have certain guidelines in the policy, with the need for students to feel ownership. How long does he let the conversation continue? How much of the synthesizing is done by him?
I suspect the process will go very well for a number of reasons. Rather than starting from scratch, he has presented his students with a packet of readings, including the Blog Policy and Student Blogging Handbook from Bud's wiki. Another reason for potential success is his use of the fishbowl or Socratic Seminar technique. Students keep changing roles so I suspect they remain actively engaged for a longer period of time.
I'd like to adapt his lesson plan. Or maybe it doesn't need adapting-- the readings are at a reasonable level for grade 5 students. Add this to my growing list of resources I plan to use next year when I'm blogging in a different country with different students.