Thursday, March 16, 2006

And yet another favor to ask...

I am making final preparations to talk about blogging to a group of teachers on Saturday. One thing I want to talk about is why we blog with our classes. I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave me a brief comment here telling me why you blog with your students. I would like to share your thoughts with the teachers who come to the meeting. Thanks so much!

21 comments:

Jo McLeay said...

Why I started blogging with my students was three fold: first when I started blogging I enjoyed it so much - the conversational aspect, getting to know others, relating to people I'd never be able to meet face to face because of distance, and I learnt so much in such a fun way, I felt I had to show my students the potential. Another reason was that students seemed to enjoy going to the computer lab and this meant going to the lab about once a week, and thirdly I thought that even if they didn't learn what I expected, well at least they were writing weren't they? But the benefits of blogging, at least last year, exceeded my expectations. Of course they embraced blogging in a different way to what I had. But they made contact with people in other countries which they enjoyed, some took to blogging and started their own non-school based ones, and my international students who all had blogs of their own had the benefit of being ahead of the local students in understanding the process and had a chance to be more involved in the class than they had been. This year we've really only just started and there have been a lot of interruptions so it is a bit too early to tell, but there is no doubt the kids 'get it' and now we have the good fortune to have another local school in our area starting with blogs so there will be interaction there. Sorry this comment is so long. I could keep talking but I'll let others have a say too.
Hope it all goes well on Saurday.
Jo

Nathan Lowell said...

I had a class of special ed teachers and I wanted them to blog about the issues in special ed to help raise the level of awareness for some critical topics. Their writings now show up in Google and it freaks them out that they are considered "experts" now ...

Of course, then we have to have a long discussion about "critical evaluation of information" and "what makes HIS opinion matter more than YOURS?"

Try doing THAT without bloggin'! :D

aaron said...

Hi Nancy...I blog with my students because I feel a great responsiblity for turning them onto something that can potentially benefit them and society. I think my latest post on Dekita sums up how I feel the best, especially the last two paragraphs:
http://dekita.org/weblog/language-learning-ecologies

Good luck on Saturday!

stephen lazar said...

I started blogging with my students (and myself) for a few reasons. My students had been journeling regularly in class, but I think a lot of the potential benefit to that was lost because they weren't regularly shared. Blogging provided a very pragmatic solution to that problem (which, granted, was the result of my own planning). When my students were working on their final project last year, I set up group blogs to enable students within a group to better communicate with each other as they reflected on the process. It also allowed people in other groups to see what others were doing. Finally, I incorporated my students into my own personal blog to better explain why we did what we did in class, while simultaniously giving them a voice in the planning process.

joanna said...

I blog with my students to give them another place to write and another kind of writing--online, networked (but not social). We'
ve just begun and so far, so good.

Clarence Fisher said...

Blogging with kids is authentic. It gives them a voice and an audience. If you want to have kids work on their writing skills, it gets no better then this. They need to learn to develop a voice, to be informative, to keep an audience. When we first started blogging, several of my kids ran upon a blog post written by student from a school in another part of the world that had almost no captial letters or punctuation. The comments the kids had: "It's bascially impossible to read. Now I know why we need to spell check our stuff," drove home a large lesson. Blogging also allows kids to learn about connecting their ideas with others, revising their thinking, and to consider the ideas of others in a public space. Long comment. Hopefully a useful idea or two...

Anne Davis said...

Why I blog with students

Weblogs are unique spaces that we can use with students to make writing THE focus. We can publish quickly. We can set up an audience for them. We can give them ownership of their work in ways we cannot in our solitary classrooms. Students can get to practice writing through a diverse array of writing experiences. It’s a way we can make writing a joy for them and let our students know and feel that their writing matters. We have to set the stage and encourage the dialogue in our classroom that leads them toward understanding the power of the written word. I want our students to be a part of the conversations we have about education. It is a great way to reassess our teaching and re-examine student learning. It is also a good way to give our students a voice. We can listen and learn from them.

Another thing is that it lets us have the opportunity to truly integrate technology into instruction and build a community of powerful learning for our students. Weblogs can engage students in a purposeful practice of writing that can promote deeper learning.

Blogging can foster classroom conversations that matter. My having a weblog shows them that I make writing a priority. My having a blog lets me share my writing and learning with my students who have blogs. We’re in this together and we learn with and from each other. I use it as a tool in the classroom to ensure that the students and I are talking, reading and writing about how and what we are learning and thinking. We interact through comments. We have others outside our classroom enter the conversations. We work at building a community who respect and encourage each other. We learn to disagree agreeably. We write to learn. We blog to learn.

McBride said...

I just started blogging with my students this semester and it has been a wonderful experience. I teach three sections of Western Civilization and the class blog is shared between the three sections. This way they get to interact with other students and hear ideas that they do not hear in my class. I have also enjoyed the blogging because it allows for the quiet kids to express their thoughts. Also, my class only meets 3 days a week, so the blog allows for a continuation of discussions that we might not have have time to fully discuss in class.

Crosby said...

Like McBride, I mostly use the blog for discussions that should be continued beyond the time constraints of class. I have used blogging mostly with my freshmen, and it has been a useful tool for not just content discussions, but also for writing. As someone else said, it teaches the students quite a bit when they see entries (often their own!) that are poorly written. It is a great way to help them understand why grammar, punctuation and citing sources matter.

Ms. Kakos said...

The blog knocks down the walls of the classroom with an energy that no other homework assignment has; I love looking at the time and date that my students post their comments and finding that they've carried a class discussion into Friday night or Sunday afternoon. What good is class if it's contained within the school day? Learning happens when they make connections between class and the TV that's on in the background or a conversation that they just had over dinner. This is what the blog provides.

The blog also gives voice and validation to students who fear raising their hands in class. It's even given some of my quieter students the confidence to start speaking up more in class discussions. I often require my students to post questions that will be the focus of class discussion on the following day, and my students love watching their blog questions turn into lively discussions in the classroom.

Many of my students have started maintaining philosophical blogs of their own, and it's amazing to see what they think about and write about when they're not even given a topic or a grade. I started using the blog in November, and it's given me invaluable insight into my students' brains.

Steve Spangler said...

Blogging has become a regular part of my teaching and my communication with other teachers. The teachers who have already posted comments hit all of the major advantages of blogging. As part of a class I was teaching in the Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, we created a short-term blog about a single science project. Take a look... http://homepage.mac.com/stevespangler/iblog/index.html The inspiration behind the blog is posted here... http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000136

My elementary teacher colleagues are also blogging - http://www.lisaheaton.com

And as a teacher, I blog ever day - http://www.stevespangler.com

Best of luck with your class on Saturday. Get teachers hooked on blogging!

--Steve Spangler

Sue said...

I don't have a group of students to blog with but I would encourage you, in your workshop, to have the teachers try blogging themselves...

For me, it has made a world of difference! On my first blog posting ever, a year ago, I said my purpose was threefold:


A LEARNING TOOL
1) I’m currently on contract and therefore not attached to any one college or university where I can easily get into research projects, professional development sessions and working committees. I’ve made some in-roads with the local university & college but they are a little suspicious of someone walking in off the street expounding the merits of ‘blended classrooms’, effective online audio for educational purposes, learning objects (or learning interactives as some are calling them) and the like…. I fear it is not a world they dabble in much and was basically told so by one Administrator who said, “Sue, you’re talking 2 years ahead of us”. So what’s a person to do? It’s hard to keep up in the world of Education Technology without using the knowledge and techniques that are out there - Blogging is definitely one of those technologies to come to understand but I sense that blogging will also give the constant research that I’m doing a home and a place to be synthesized into the “why is X important or not” realm.

BE PART OF A TEAM
2) I am currently teaching online, full-time. My office is my home. So my world on this side of the computer is very small. Yet through other blogs I know there are a raft of people thinking about the same things, asking the same questions and SHARING. I want to be part of that global team!

REPOSITORY
Not a day passes when I have not gone off on one information tangent or another - diligently following the path to a satisfying end - only to start down another path… In my previous work at Dubai Men’s College, I would have walked down the hallway and shared my discovery with a colleague and together we would bantered about how this new “whatever” could be applied to our educational setting - and possibly someone would give it a try. But now, I don’t have that luxury and I feel a need to capture the discoveries I’m continuing to make. I’m thinking since I can’t have the “what’s it good for” discussion with a colleague in my current setting, I’ll “TELBLOG” it…. and put it away for a rainy day.


Now, looking back, blogging has definitely met the needs I suggested above AND THEN SOME!!!
My blogs have become a place "to put" those thoughts I have as I go about experimenting with methodologies or engaging with new ideas. In smaller communities or small school staff rooms, it can be hard to find people who like to engage in pedagogical discussions - through blogging, I have found these conversations and jumped in!

Good luck with your workshop.

Jim Meta said...

I believe that my blog, has changed so many things that the kids do as well as what I do during my teaching. When I am teaching a math lesson or giving tips to the kids about grammar, I immediately put the notes in my blog, or post the notes later that day.

The kids writing has come a long way, and I am writing from my 3rd graders that has been the best in the nine years that I have been teaching.

The children are engaged because they want to be published and they want their relatives across the country to read their work. We work in the lab to post a blog and then the kids run to the computers in the classroom to blog instead of wanting or trying to play a game.

I have to remember that they are 3rd grade students, but they want and can do a lot more now that it is March and not the beginning of the year. I am still trying to get my school district to allow the use of comments, for they want to make sure that it is safe for the kids. Any comments on that?

Mike Hetherington said...

My 6th graders' education-oriented class blog has been up in its current "student centered" form for about two months now. With over 200 student posts and 700 student comments, it has taken on a life of it's own. As I see it, here are some of the benefits of student blogs (in no particular order of importance):

1. Creates a learning community feel in a place away from the traditional classroom. This learning community is open 24/7

2. Provides an authentic audience for student writing, an audience of peers, parents, and a potential worldwide audience. The embedded hit map on our site allows the students to determine the location of their readership. This also is a nice connection with geography.

3. Allows for multiple feedback loops among the networked students, teachers and other interested parties. Learning in a class blog setting is now a social activity.

4. Allows a wonderful outlet for creativity.

5. Supports differentiation. The blog gives some of our more verbally reserved students a forum for their thoughts.

6. Encourages reading. To make a meaningful comment, or to choose their favorite post, the students first need to read what's out there.

7. Encourages and teaches research skills. Encourages students to extend their research beyond the assigned work.

8. Builds technology skills.

Hope this helps. I just presented the Room 613 Student Blogs site to our Board of Ed. this week and they were very excited about the prospects of student blogging. Support for the medium in education is beginning to grow!

Mike Hetherington

Vicki A. Davis said...

I began to blog with my students because I believed it was a technology that was emerging and I wanted to expose them to it.

I have continued, however, because I found that it is a communications method that they must master in order to be effective contributors to society in their future.

Ancient philosophers didn't like the pen because they said that it made for lazy minds. Likewise, modern day pundits think blogging is a fly by night temporary happening. They are wrong.

My students will write and contribute to the blogosphere. They love blogging, wikis, and podcasting and I enjoy writing about their experiences.

We wouldn't think of students not learning to write in cursive. Likewise students should keyboard and blog beginning in the third or fourth grade (as soon as they have mastered cursive.)

It is so important, that I've taught my own childrento blog and podcast.

I believe you'll see that the various learning styles and collaborative learning techniques will backup the use of wikis, blogs, and podcasts.

Andy Losik said...

As an elementary teacher, my bare bones blog at http://mrlosik.blogspot.com makes life for me and my students easier. I agree blogging can produce everything that has been so eloquently stated but I blog for ease. Urls are a nightmare for my 1st through 5th graders to get right. Links are easy. I post a link. They click. There are times when I make them bang out an entire address but with my limited time in our Infotech special, speed is essential and things put together ahead of time works so well. Plus, the blog allows kids to show parents and classroom teachers exactly what is happening in Infotech.

astephens said...

Why blog with students? Where do I begin...

The web as a "social network" is here, so why not educate our students how to use it positively, instructionally, effectively, reflectively and beneficially (okay, enough adverbs...)?

As others have stated, blogging provides students with relevance - an authentic audience outside of the classroom. Theoretically at least, relevance leads to motivation and improved learning. Effective communication skills are of utmost important to most employers today(and the public in general) and communication no longer means simply face-to-face. Communication today takes place through e-mails, discussion boards, text messaging, podcasts, wikis and yes, blogs. It is imperative to educate our students how to communicate properly in these emerging formats.

From a curricular standpoint, blogging is a great tool to teach the writing and revision process as an individual and collective group. It is also a fabulous way to teach voice.

Blogging allows connections - sometimes seemingly random thoughts linked together, so that a body of information is available by following different paths (or links). These connections illustrate the thought-process of the writer.

I could go on and on...

There is a list I brainstorm on my blog about how blogs can be used in the classroom. You are welcome to use some of the ideas.

http://musingsfromtheacademy.blogspot.com/2006/02/using-blogs-in-classroom-some-ideas.html

john said...

In a primary classroom blogging seems to me to be an extension of normal classroom practice.
Display is central to a primary school, a blog is a wall for the children to hang their work on for the world to see.
Purpose, audience, responsibility and collaboration.

Elizabeth Ross Hubbell said...

I use blogging with online professional development with teachers. Twice a month, we meet online via webcam and discuss one of Marzano's nine strategies and the technologies that support those. At the end of each session, they are given a classroom assignment to use one of the strategies/resources and to post about their experiences.

I find that the f2f sessions serve as quick, information-point meetings. The real magic happens when the teachers start posting. They share experiences, ask questions of each other, ask to see lesson plans or student artifacts. Conversations that could never happen due to lack of time and geographical separation happen here. (These teachers are in a remote area of North Dakota.)Their conversations are amazing.

Darren Kuropatwa said...

Hi Nancy,

This is certainly too late for the workshop but I thought I'd leave the link nonetheless. I actually have a post on my blog titled Why did you start blogging with your classes .... I don't actually answer the question myself. I let one of my students speak for me. ;-)

Cheers!
Darren

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