After an enjoyable weekend camping with my boyfriend, its back to the grind I go! Today I am going to be discussing classroom blogs. I will be reviewing classroom blogs from an elementary, middle and high school and assessing the value of using a classroom blog.
Elementary: Mrs. Morris & Miss Jordan’s Class
After reading through and reviewing Primary Tech in my last post, I decided to check out the class blog of Kathleen Morris.
Mrs. Morris and Miss Jordan teach fourth grade as a team at Leopold Primary School in Victoria, Australia. They use a classroom blog to connect their 53 students to each other, their teachers, and their parents. The purpose of this blog seems to be to put internet safety and good commenting habits into practice and thus teach students how to become excellent global and digitally responsible citizens. The class has a mascot named Leo (a stuffed toy lion) who helps them learn how to comment appropriately and teaches them internet safety. The blog also features a calendar so that parents and students alike are kept informed of upcoming events and activities (i.e. spelling bees and professional days).
Many of the posts review what the students have been doing in class in terms of themes, long term assignments, activities, field trips, etc. Following each re-cap, the teacher asks the students to respond to questions asking them what they have learned, what did they like about the assignment, and why was the learning experience important. For example, the students have been participating in bike ed . Their teachers posted pictures of how they’ve been doing and asked them questions about bike ed. Students responded as did parents, which really helps to bridge the gap between parents and students. So often parents are kept out of the loop as to what their children are doing in the classroom. Blogs can help change that and pull parents into the learning community.
This blog really strives to start the process of create good digital citizens early on in the students’ education. Students are not only reflecting on their learning experiences, but they are simultaneously learning how to communicate with each other online. Another thing that this blog highlights is how global blogging really is. Here I am, sitting in an apartment in Virginia (I’m visiting my dad and stepmom), and I’m reading about a classroom in Australia. Blogs are also great for teachers all over the world to find out what is going on in a different country from their own. We can share learning techniques, lesson plans, etc. and pull different ideas about what works in education from different cultures.
Middle: Mr. Gonzalez’s Science Classes
This classroom blog highlights the work and learning of three 6th grade and two 8th grade science classes in Chimacum, Washington. There is a home page where the teacher, Mr. Gonzalez blogs, a list of assignments students have to complete in their blog pages, and a list of links to each student’s blog. Mr. Gonzalez posts infographs and videos related to the content in each unit on the homepage, while students post answers to assignments and their projects on their own blog pages. Estherp has not only posted assignments and answers to questions posed by her teacher, but she also posted about her passion which is art. She even had a blogger from Vermont, all the way on the other side of the country, post a question in the comments section about who her favorite artist is.
Again, this blog highlights how easy it is to share information all over the U.S. and world. What I really appreciate though, is that Mr. Gonzalez is using a blog to make his students accountable for their assignments. Think about it: this blog can be seen by anyone including parents and other students. How embarrassing would it be to have your peers find out that you haven’t been doing your homework. Not that its okay to embarrass your students, but if I was in their shoes, knowing that other people are reading my work including my teacher, my parents, and my classmates, I would try to do the best job I could for my assignments, both written and creative.
High: Mr. B-G’s Blogging with Students
Mr. B-G states that his blog is “designed to aid my students in the creation of their own English class blogs.” However, this blog is so much more. Mr. B-G not only posts content-related material, but he also provides students with information on how to use certain Web 2.0 tools such as Google Docs and Flickr. Mr. B-G also posts writing assignments and commenting criteria. It appears that the blog is used to assess student learning, writing skills, and ability to respond and be active in an online learning setting along with attending class.
Each students has his or her own blog that is linked to the home page of the classroom blog. They have to respond to writing prompts, and post their essays and responses on their blog. Their teacher then posts the criteria for commenting on the essays, and students are expected to comment in order to receive credit. The benefits of what Mr. B-G is having his students do is two-fold. First of all, students are being directed toward learning how to comment in a way that is constructive and prompts critical thinking and analysis. Second, students are furthering the sharing process by posting their assignments and having their classmates discuss their writing assignments. Mr. B-G seems to be hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the concept of collaborative learning. Students are learning from each other here, and it will greatly improve their experience and school and will ultimately make them better communicators.
Here, we see a tiered approach when it comes to utilizing classroom blogs as a learning tool for this digital era. At the elementary level, students are not necessarily creating their own blogs, but they are learning how initially communicate on a blog by using the comments feature. They answer questions as an assignment and then can continually respond to feedback from parents, teachers, and peers. At the middle school level, students are starting their own blogs by using them to complete basic assignments and share a little bit of information about themselves. Finally, at the high school level, students are improving their writing and communication skills by writing essays and responding to the posts of other students. There is more independence at the high school level, but they are still accountable for using their blogs responsibly. Furthermore, these blogs allow students to find their own voices among other students when in the classroom, they may not be able to always speak up. Blogs can help students who are shy blossom into better communicators.
All of this falls under the umbrella of concepts we have learned over the past two weeks in module 1. The blogging experience helps students learn how to be safe online, how to be thoughtful and respectful digital citizens, meet technology and other learning standards. Finally, these blogs are setting students on the path to having very positive digital footprints.
That’s all for now. Happy Father’s Day to any dad’s out there! Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. 🙂