Home Content AreasEnglish Language Arts Three Tips to Blogging Author Chats, Part 2

Three Tips to Blogging Author Chats, Part 2

by Miguel Guhlin
man at a typewriter

Welcome to Part 2 of Three Tips to Blogging Author Chats. We will explore some easy-to-use technologies, as well as share some possible solutions.

Tip #2 – Blend in simple, easy-to-use technologies that empower your conversation.

“Ok,” you may think, “I know how to do Socratic Seminar. But how do I work technology into all this?” You can use technology in a variety of ways. One easy way is to establish an online space where conversations can take place. A perfect location for this is a web log, or blog. The blog organizes its latest entries–think of them as multimedia journal entries that allow for text, video, audio–in reverse chronological order, and allows people to leave comments. And these can be moderated to prevent inappropriateness.

Some blog platforms that you should consider include:

  1. KidBlog
  2. Write About
  3. Edublogs
  4. Seesaw Class Blog

In addition to these four blogging tools, consider taking advantage of tools like the new Google Sites or Microsoft OneNote. Each allows for open-ended questions that students can respond to, or develop questions in response to a prompt. You can have these prompts available and roll them out for inner/outer circles to ponder and discuss, or, better yet, have the students create the prompts themselves.

Tip #3 – Take the Well-Worn Path to Success

Why not follow tried-and-true approaches taken by other teachers?  If you can find a book author on Twitter, you have a great opportunity for initiating an online conversation. For example, I’ve easily connected with my favorite fantasy authors (Jonathan Maberry and Jonathan Moeller) via Twitter. They might be willing to join in on a conversation with students.

You can also invite other well-known educators, community members, university professors, and/or writers. Each can participate in conversations with your students online. The goal is to nurture a rich, free-flowing, wide-ranging, academically-focused conversation. This allows modeling for students as to how this happens in real life.

Adapt Socratic Seminar for a Blog

Here’s an approach you can take, adapted from the work of other educators online:

  1. Read one chapter a week.
  2. Students in center circle (in the fishbowl) lead the discussion.
  3. Students in the outer circle (outside the fishbowl) listen to the inner circle and have their own conversation via the blog.
  4. Invite adults learners from around the world to discuss chapters and leave comments.
  5. At the end of the process, have the author respond to questions students in both circles have generated.

At the end of each session, have students share their reflections online in the blog or blog comments section. You could even use Flipgrid or LetsRecap to mange an asynchronous exchange with the author. Watch this 38-minute video of Arapahoe students and teachers sharing how they approached this.

Live or Pre-Recorded Author Chats Made Easy

Given the wide availability of desktop video conferencing solutions such as Skype, Google+ Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and Appear.in, there’s no reason why your students couldn’t meet other adult learners and/or author(s) face to face for short discussions (15-20 minutes), discussing key concepts in the text. There are many ways to engage young writers and authors. Blogs and Twitter are simple ways to “shrink the world” and bring people closer together.

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