Now that we all have had the opportunity to load up our aggregators with various blogs, let’s discuss what can be done with a blog. I mean, blogging is nothing more than a trendy buzz word. Politicians do it to be hip and win votes. Reporters do it get the scoop on the competition. Mark Cuban does it to rally support for the Mavs and complain about the NBA. Right? Maybe not.
How can we use blogging in the classroom? There are a lot of examples and ways teacher across the country and the world use blogging. In my classroom I used blogging for a variety of exercises. First of all, I truly believe that blogging helps a student with his or her writing. While students can just as easily write answers and essays on paper, that format limits the audience. Even if a student exchanges his or her paper with classmates before they submit the writing to the teacher at best this limits the audience to a handful of readers. By submitting an answer as a blog entry everyone in the class can read the student’s answer. Everyone in the same course can read the student’s submission. Students in other school and even parents can read the submission. With the potential to increase exponentially the audience I witnessed my students taking more seriously their responses.
Additionally, it allows high achieving students the opportunity to review the position of equally motivated students. It allows a student who understands the question, but lacks the confidence to express properly in writing his or her position the opportunity to view how their peers articulate their responses. Furthermore, it provides a chance for students who lack the confidence to understand the activity to check their facts before submitting and revise the work following submission.
Another benefit that I see from blogging positions is a possibility for a student to view the progress of his or her writing. While in an ideal classroom setting students will keep previous assignment and refer to past positions when reviewing; the reality is that many students use the textbook as both a source for information and a binder. By blogging answer previous assignments stay on the student’s blog page and every time a student submits a new writing the previous writing are right in front of them. While not every student will take advantage of this, at least the opportunity is in front of them.
In my classroom I used Blogmeister, a free service provided by David Warlick, to create a blog page for each of my students. I like Blogmeister because it provides me with control of all of the information posted on the website. When student submit an article, it does not appear on the web until I approve the information. This makes it easier for me to ensure that I have given credit when a student submits an entry. It also assists me to ensure that students are reviewing the information they submit. In an instance that a student does not submit work that addresses the activity, I can request the student edit the response. This past school year I used the class blog page as a venue for students to answer chapter assessment questions, SAS in School activities, and personal reflections.
Mr. Warlick’s designed his site as a free service for schools and requires that school request a pass code to ensure that only teacher use this site. If you are a Bishop Dunne teacher, e-mail me and I can give you the pass code and assist you in creating your own site. If you are not a Bishop Dunne teacher, they I would recommend e-mailing Mr. Warlick for a pass code. I would also recommend subscribing to the Blogmeister list-serve. Using this list-serve it a great way to get quick answers to common questions when creating a blog page. It is also a great venue to share ideas and learn new ideas from teacher currently blogging.
For those of you wanting more information on the benefits of blogging in the classroom I would recommend reading a blog post by Angela Stephens, my pre-wife. She recently conducted a training seminar on blogging and posted most of her research and a step by step process to creating a blog in her site.