Monday, August 14, 2006

An Out of Classroom Experience

Anne Davis a professor of Technology at Georgia State University wrote a brief article about how to use Blogging in the Classroom. She writes specifically about how using the personal publishing aspect of the “Blogosphere” can contribute to the writing abilities of high school students. Professor Davis is in no way claiming that blogs and peer review eliminate the need for educators, in fact she goes on to write that the teacher workload and expectations of meaningful comments from teachers is actually increased.

The internet does not make teaching any easier. Technology is only as good as the teachers employing its use. David Huffaker ,along with several teachers in our school and across the globe have blogs already up and running. Here I am simply hyper linking blogs I’ve come across and trying to categorize them into realms of how I percieve teachers using them.

Using the Blog in the Classroom
As an educational tool, blogs may be integrated in a multi-faceted manner to accommodate all learners. Blogs can serve at least four basic functions.

  1. Classroom Management
    Class blogs can serve as a portal to foster a community of learners. As they are easy to create and update efficiently, they can be used to inform students of class requirements, post handouts, notices, and homework assignments, or act as a question and answer board.

  2. Collaboration
    Blogs provide a space where teachers and students can work to further develop writing or other skills with the advantage of an instant audience. Teachers can offer instructional tips, and students can practice and benefit from peer review. They also make online mentoring possible. For example, a class of older students can help a class of younger students develop more confidence in their writing skills. Students can also participate in cooperative learning activities that require them to relay research findings, ideas, or suggestions.

  3. Discussions
    A class blog opens the opportunity for students to discuss topics outside of the classroom. With a blog, every person has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions. Students have time to be reactive to one another and reflective. Teachers can also bring together a group of knowledgeable individuals for a given unit of study for students to network and conference with on a blog.

  4. Student Portfolios
    Blogs present, organize, and protect student work as digital portfolios. As older entries are archived, developing skills and progress may be analyzed more conveniently. Additionally, as students realize their efforts will be published, they are typically more motivated to produce better writing. Teachers and peers may conference with a student individually on a developing work, and expert or peer mentoring advice can be easily kept for future reference.

Briefly review each of the following hyperlinked blogs. At the conclusion of this article you will notice a question and a place to leave comments. Please, after viewing all the “types” of blogs try posting your comment and adding to the article. Through collaboration the apparent use of this medium will become more clear.

There are Reflective Blogs : here students are asked to post their thoughts and concerns around a lesson or culminating project. The blog is not the project, but it is expected that each student add their personal reflection in the form of a comment. Teachers and the public can comment on the work the course has completed.

This does not imply that the blog cannot be incorporated into the final project. The School Wide Values Team in the Montessori Small Learning Community at QHST created a Theme Blog, sharing the experience students have had with the school wide values. The administrator of this blog is sent update notification when comments are left by readers.

Next, and probably the most common use in the classroom is for Personal Publishing. Here the level of concern is inherently increased by the anticipated watchful eyes of their peers and the public at large. The posts are student generated and the comments are the peer feedback student authors crave.

Another creative classroom technique I came across was to unite high school students in a croos country conversation on a Single Issue Blog, here seniors from The Queens High School of Teaching, along with members of Eric Contreras’ College Now class on immigration, and students from a Bilingual high school class in Arizona joined together in cyberspace to explore various perspectives on the issues surrounding immigration. Please pay particular attention to the use of comments on this blog. The original author is not moderating the discussion, but the conversation among QHST students has continued with a high level of academia.

Clear directions and high expectaions are an essential part of any lesson. Lessons involving the internet are no exception. In my tenth grade global studies class, students were asked to comment on the findings of their research on the Renaissance. Students were giving specific directions as to what was expected by their participation. They each had to comment a set number of times and students were asked to refer to each other as well as add new information to the disscussion. For the purpose of this workshop we will refer to this as a “Dialogue Blog”. I was totally inspired by Mayo’s Book Blog and our joint primary venture our Advisory Blog.

From a clearly informational aspect blogs have been used successfully in college classes for several years. Pace University as well as many others have created hybrid classes that require students to post on closed blogs (not open to public viewing) called “blackboards”. Christine Brody has effectively adapted this idea. In her blog, English classes, advisory and DEAR openly communicate with the teacher and eachother. Although the posts do not change, the comments are updated and answered periodically on this “Classroom Update Blog.”

As a professional teacher we are constantly being asked to become reflective practioners. To journal and share our thoughts as to how our pedagogical experiences can be enhanced. Professional Reflection Blogs. Are meant to keep an online record of (to steal from Nigel) “how our thoughts are developing."

Students already use various forms of blogging. Websites such as MySpace and Sconex have received a cool reception in most school districts across the country. This is partly due to the uncontrolled access by the public to comment. With the comment moderation control available, teachers with relative ease are finding to be more suited to classroom needs. Teachers have the ability view and censor any and all content that is submitted by readers before it is posted on the web. It is not surprising that students have generated their own blogs. Student Blogs will be more common as teacher use increases.

OK, now that you have previewed over ten types of blogs; How might you incorporate this simple internet technology into your pedagogical repertoire? What concerns do you have about blogging? What can Brown do for you? (what further PD can be provided?)

When you are ready to leave a comment and wish to set up a free account with ask Brown for assistance. However if you do not wish to open a free account, and intend on leaving a comment please check the “other” circle leave your name and any website that identifies you as the “My Web Page ” address. You do not have to have an account to leave a comment!


Winnie said...

Great blogging! I see lots of advantages to using blogging as an out of classroom tool. I can imagine however, that it might be a little difficult to keep track of. I wonder if there is a more uniform/school wide system that all teachers/students can use?

Mr. Carrera said...

Great tutorial!! I look forward to using this tool in class.

Gina V. said...

Thanks for turning me on to the world of blogging. It's new to me but I can already envision tons of opportunities for my students and I to communicate and express ourselves in new ways.

Ms. Irizarry said...

I would love to use blogging for both advisory and my content area. It's a good tool for students to communicate with teachers in a comfortab;e setting and ask questions they would otherwise be too intimidated to ask.

Ms.Shih said...

I think i posted an earlier comment but its not showing. Anyways, this is a great addition to the classroom. I wonder if there is a more uniform school wide platform that all the teachers/students can use. I feel like blogger is still a little all over the place, but its fun nonetheless. :)

AM said...

I feel this is a great way to comunicate with students. By using this blogging method, students can be in their comfort zone and be informed.

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Mr. Recinos said...

It was very interesting creating a blog. I think it will be very helpflul in our teaching and students will like it.

kathyroberts said...

There are many ways to use blogs into the classroom. Take a look at this blog that provides information and even a video:


Paul said...

Using a "blog" allows me to distribute much information to students without the arduous task of photocopying hundreds of papers. I can inform students of college application deadlines, scholarships, financial aid information, etc. Thank you for facilitating the "Blog" lesson and opening up my eyes to something I was unfamiliar with before today.

gandang_pinay@nyc said...

Whew!!! new exciting ideas to implement into my class.I'm so excited to use this new form of technology which I really believe necessary for a science classes.But, I'm a bit anxious on how the students might handle this...are all of our students have access to computers? Hope you could continue to assist me in doing this to my class...I still need more info...Am really thrilled with this idea.

AM said...

I think this is a great way to communicate with students. Using a blog allows students to be in their comfort zone and obtain information.

D. Guglielmini said...

I see how wonderful blogs can be in the classroom. Students can respond to work at any time and even long after the assignment is complete.

If every teacher has a blog, will students still be as motivated to participate? Blogging will not be as interesting, and just something that they "have" to do. They might become uninterested and feel overwhelmed regarding the number of blogs they are involved in.

What is your experience with student involvement? How often do students participate? What do you do if a student does not participate?

Monica Plaza-Martinez said...

I honestly enjoyed learning on how to create a blog. I think it is an important tool for a teacher to use in her/his classroom and/or in other different needs. Definitely, I will use it for my classes.
Thank you Wally!

Kathy Roberts said...

My previous post did not have the website hotlinked, so here it is:
Kathy's Corner.


Mr. Barkan said...

I just looked into some of the new features on Blogger - You can now post updates via e-mail. I have the instructions on my Earth Science blog