The first few days of school can be a bit of a blur for students who are bombarded with syllabi and class rules. One of the ways I like to break the cycle of “sit and get” that first week of school is to use a crowdsourcing activity to put the responsibility of establishing expectations on my students. Instead of telling them what I expect, I ask them questions like:
- What would make this class feel like a community?
- What can your peers do to make you feel welcome?
- How can you help to keep this classroom a safe space?
My students have been in school for 10 years by the time they get to my class, so they have a pretty good idea of what makes a classroom a welcoming and safe community.
The second day of school, I asked them to discuss what they thought was polite versus rude when engaging in different forms of communication. In small groups, they had time to talk about their particular mode of communication. Then they constructed a “dos and don’ts” list of behaviors for face to face communication, text messages, photos sharing with commenting ability (Snapchats or Instagram), and email. Given the large number of students using photo sharing apps, I was particularly interested in their take on what was polite and what was rude.
The challenge is that I don’t have enough wall space or white board to capture all of their incredible ideas. I also want to make sure we can reference the ideas they generate throughout the year.
Instead of crowdsourcing on the board, which is temporary, students post their ideas directly to our class blog. Our class blog is a space specifically designated for them to share ideas. I have a class website, but the class blog belongs to them.
Using Blogger to Crowdsource
Step 1: Set up your blog
You’ll find the Blogger app by clicking the collection of squares in the upper right hand corner of your Gmail. Blogger is Google’s free blogging tool, so it’s attached to your Gmail account.
Step 2: Give your blog a name
Step 3: Change setting to allow students to email and text directly to your class blog
You’re all set! Now students can use their devices in class to post their ideas and crowdsource. You can capture it in one shared space where everyone can view the information that has been generated.