Since January, the students in the classroom have had the opportunity to begin using a Web 2.0 application Kidblog to create their own blog within a larger classroom established platform.
It is always unnerving to use new applications and tools to engage the learner, as often enough there are going to be questions that can’t be answered immediately. We as teachers need to start realizing, that we aren’t always going to have the answers, and more often enough a student might be the black box holder.
Using a blog in the classroom can have many purposes and ultimately it is up to the teacher of how they want to create the experience for the students. In our classroom, the blog is used for written expression and communication. There isn’t a particular curricular focus for the blog, other then it is our classroom and students sharing. What is published and posted on the blog is up to the teacher, as the content list is endless. The blog is flexible and the teacher can use the platform for sharing showcasing, collaborating, creating, questioning and informing. Or simply put: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.
The teachers role begins with conversations with the students about what a blog is (great Youtube video by CommonCraft “Blogs in Plain English”). This resource helped opened up the conversations about what makes/creates a good blog, what makes a good post, how should we ask questions, and what types of information should we include. Promoting digital citizenship was also a huge component to working within this unique digital space. The role of the teacher is unique in the digital community as you get to facilitate the conversations or get the wheels moving, and then sit back and watch the conversations unfold.
We began to post assignments and webquests on the blog as a means for students to work at school and at home. With the assignments posted on the blog, information was posted for all to see (parents and students). Webquests were caged to provide a foundation for students to work from. Questions and web links were posted to get the thought juices flowing, and students had the option to use just the information posted or venture out on his/her own and seek more information. Time frame for task completion is flexible, but with the Internet made available 24/7/365, students have access anytime at home and school.
Now you are hooked, interested and you want to start a classroom blog! Blogging is becoming a great tool to use in the classroom. It is great to jump in and try this wonderful experience, but as a teacher you want to become comfortable with using the application itself. First and foremost, before you dive in and get your kids blogging, you must insure that you have followed protocol and filled out the appropriate documentation. Ask yourself the question What is your purpose of the blog in the classroom?
There isn’t a one-size-fits all purpose for blogging in the classroom and it really is a unique experience for those who use it to communicate with the world. Is your blog’s purpose to:communicate with parents, publish student work in a portfolio, daily journal, communication tool with students from across the globe (this year we were talking to students from Russia to New Jersey).
Here are some other suggestions to help:
There are many great platforms to choose from in the blogging world, but you need to select a platform that is going to best suit your students needs. Safety and security are also two important areas of concern from both the home front and the board. kidblog.org and edublogs.org are two sites that put students needs and concerns first.
Most of these parameters are going to be established when filling out the Web 2.0 PIA document that is highly recommended to fill out. Many boards require such documentation to be filled out in regards to what type of information you are posting. Some other questions to consider: 1. Will the blog be public or private? 2. What protocols are you going to have in place for commenting on the blog? 3. Are you going to read all of your students blog posts and comments before they are published? 4. How are you going to deal with inappropriate conduct on the blog?
Inform the Parents
This is a pretty important and vital step to your blog. Most parents are going to be supportive about blogging, and in fact some might already dabble in the experience. Often enough though many parents are misinformed about what a blog is. This is why it is important to have your purpose clear and laid out to explain to the parental group.
Blogs in the classroom is a great medium for students to communicate and express ideas when the need for written expression is required or desired. The blog itself becomes a personalized form of written expression for all students in the classroom. This is especially important for those students whom are more hesitant to speak in the class or have verbal communications skills. The blogging experience has been a positive experience this year and one that utilized technology in a purposeful and meaningful manner, and an experience that will be repeated in the fall.
**I was a guest blogger on Lori Cullen’s www.attheprincipalsoffice.com this week and a comment was posted. Thought I would share it. You can also follow Lori on Twitter @lorilynnecullen