Saturday, January 27, 2007

Really, What are Blogs Used for in the Classroom?

Dave LaMorte at Lesley University is exploring the option of a central location for "blog/ Web2.0 lesson plans". Seems like a good idea. I wrote a lengthy comment on his site and it would not post! Of course I forgot to c/p it before I submitted it. Oh, silly me. Anyway, I decided to rewrite my comment here. Then I'll leave a very short comment on Dave's site referencing this entry.

I'm fairly new to blogging, certainly not the expert many of you are, but I've been teaching, writing curriculum and doing technology presentations for years. As I may have mentioned before, I have opinions about everything and "blog lesson plans" did not sneak in under my radar.

My students have been blogging for several months and, all in all, they are doing a super job. You can see the details in my Blogging for Elementary Kids post 1/14/07 I'm stressing blogging as a "formal" writing experience and students must meet certain criteria in their writing; i.e. no IM and chat lingo, no personal drivel, correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, citation, links, etc. In my opinion the beauty of blogging is the idea of writing for an authentic audience and being able to write discerning and insightful comments.

As I've slogged through the class blogs out there I see them being used for a lot of different purposes, some good some mis-purposed. (is that a word?) I've seen posting of projects, personal kid sites listing neighborhood schools, grades, last names, yikes!, lists of links, home school communication, etc. I hope blogs are not being used as "catch-alls". Blogs are not websites and shouldn't be used as such. Blogs and wikis are so much easier to post to than websites; teachers may latch on to that. Blogs are for communicating, blogs are for writing, thinking, and reflecting, blogs are for debating, discussing and affirming. Blogs give teachers the opportunity to get in there and really talk to kids. I hope they (blogs) don't get watered down...OK not my job to be the the "blog-police".

Some ideas I've thought of that would be appropriate used for blogs:
  • book/movie discussions (we're discussing Eragon, the book and the movie)
  • student/parent book discussions
  • book reviews
  • current events (we use RSS feed)
  • student opinions
  • reflecting on visual images
  • reflecting on primary source documents
  • debates
  • student poetry and reflection
  • posting student artwork for critiquing
  • posting student books for critiquing (we're doing this)
  • podcasts
  • vidcasts

So, you have any ideas you could add? Be sure to check with Dave LaMorte if you do. N.

5 comments:

Dave LaMorte said...

I'm sorry the comments didn't work for you, I'll look into that. I think that blogs allow for students to find a more authentic audience and are a form of communication that is going to be around for a while.

You could also check out my podcast:
http://www.teachingforthefuture.com

Barbara said...

Audience is important but in addition I think blogging is also about building personal learning communities. Certainly that is what we are doing as educators and I think it is an essential component for our students.
By the way you have done some great projects with your kids! I am very interested in your cemetery project.
I am starting a new project you might be interested in which will hopefully help connect the students with students around the globe. you can read about it on my blog or at the planning wiki I just put up at http://photoaday.wetpaint.com

nbosch said...

Thanks, Barbara. The CSI project is in its infancy. The website pages will be filled with student research and of course data. Right now we don't have a clue about outcomes, but I'm sure the kids will do a great job. My fav project of all time and probably the best work I'll ever do as a teacher is Guardians of Freedom, you can see it http://connections.smsd.org/veterans. I'll check out your projects.

Clay Burell said...

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for sharing.

I'm not sure, though, that allowing personal (though appropriate, of course) posts on student blogs is a bad idea.

I actually am encouraging it right now, simply to get them engaged in writing and blogging as something authentic, not "schooly."

Little by little, after four months of discussions of voice, sentence variety, the "art of the title," tone, and other things, changes are starting to happen in student writing. You have to know each student, and compare early and later posts, to see it though.

More and more, I see Moodle and other "walled gardens" as places for teacher-assigned work; and more and more, I like the idea of letting student blogs be...well, their blogs (though teacher-monitored, of course).

Just a different angle.

Enjoying your blog :)

nbosch said...

Clay, thanks for stopping by. Here are my thoughts on personal blog entries. I think they are great for personal blogs and may give some students time to reflect and be introspective but my students are so young I don’t think the class blog is the place. About ten years ago, I had my students make websites for the first time and since that time I’ve always stress “content”. Young students, maybe because they’ve only lived 10-12 years, didn’t have enough experiences to make a personal website. Haha. Also I’ve found that “All About Me” projects of any kind don’t generate much more than “My favorite color is…” and “My dad is an engineer and my mom….” And blah..blah…blah.

My students deal with a lot of issues and sometimes their concerns can stir up a hornet’s nest; divorce, trouble with siblings, depression, bullying, teasing, grades and issues with classroom teachers just to name a few. I don’t feel comfortable dealing with those issues in a forum that parents, teachers and students can read. Maybe some day I’ll change my mind but right now we’re going to focus on issues, current events, book reviews and creativity. Direct me to your student blogs and I’ll read and comment. Nancy