Classroom Blogging

June 13, 2006

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.


Keeping up with RSS

June 6, 2006

 

This is the first posting for the Final Curve.  I am designing this site as a way to share with teachers and other educators my ideas and experiences with various technology.  In future posting I will describe the activities I conducted in my classroom using blogs, wiki, podcasts and a variety of other emerging technologies.  I will also describe my choice of title; for now I will say that I took the title from a Langston Hughes poem.

 

The first thing I will say about this second generation of the web is that there is a lot of information.  In a search this morning using Technorati I found the listing of 2601 blogs about education.  With all of the great educational blogs alone, how does one keep up with all of the new information?  The simple answer is that you cannot.  However; you can create a single page to retrieve most of the information you read daily.  Introducing RSS.

 

RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a web feed that allows anyone to subscribe to specific pages.  It is similar to the e-mails that fill the inboxes of many people everyday.  The main difference is that the articles and stories sit on a webpage rather than fill up my inbox.  To begin, you need an aggregator to sort the RSS feeds.  Two of the more popular aggregators are Netvibes, to which I personally subscribe, and Bloglines.  Once you have created an aggregator account simple locate the RSS or XML icon on your favorite blogs and other news sources.  The icons look like the orange tabs below:
 RSS         XML

 

Copy the short cut and add the feed to you account.  Soon you will be logging in an staring at 400 new articles waiting for your eyes.  

Enjoy your start into web 2.0.  Be careful, it is more addicting that the previous  generation of the web.