Daily Archives: January 6, 2007

Teaching with Blogs: Others Doing It

Once I became interested in doing this I started looking around to see if there were other teachers doing the same thing. Here are a few I came across in my brief travels to date. If anyone knows of others, especially those working with kids the age of mine, let me know!

  1. The Fisch Bowl
    This is a “staff development blog for Arapahoe High School teachers exploring constructivism and 21st century learning skills.” While these are high school teachers, they are incredibly creative in using technology in imaginative ways so I find this blog and the linking ones (the different teachers have class blogs too) very worthwhile.
  2. Tell the Raven
    This is a “community writing project for my Grade 4 students in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Raven totem pole stands in the middle of our playground. Our stories go out to the world.” This is one of the fewsites I’ve found where students the age of mine have their own blogs. Their teacher also has a very interesting blog, Borderland.
  3. A Really Different Place
    This teacher has also set up individual blogs for her middle school gifted and talented students. “…. Students will learn to be safe and responsible social networkers. They will understand intellectual property and copyright issues. Students will have the opportunity to write real and relevant content which is viewed by an authentic audience. The content may be original thoughts or stories, comments in response to peers or response to reflection questions posted by teachers as blog entries or threaded discussions…”
  4. WatsonCommon
    This is the blog of a high school English teacher. In a recent post, he wrote, “Originally, I started this blog as an experiment to figure out how to use blogging tools, where they might fit in an English class, and what it feels like to participate in a collective, ongoing dialogue about education. Now I find myself re-focusing and redirecting.”
  5. 2 Cents Worth David Warlick is clearly a major voice in educational technology these days.
  6. Bud the Teacher Another really thoughtful high school English teacher.

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Teaching with Blogs: Why?

Yes, my fourth graders are going to be blogging. Since my epiphany with their journals a few weeks ago, I’ve gone exploring to find out more about other teachers’ experiences having students of this age blog, worked closely with a wonderful technology specialist at my school as we figured out how best to do this, and prepared with her to introduce the blogs to the children this coming week.

So why, really? Here are some of my reasons:

  1. Audience. When my students write in their journals, I’m their audience. Even when they write stories that are published and read by peers and parents, I’m still their main audience. Quite understandable as I, as their teacher, am always assessing their work to be sure that they are on the right track, making adequate progress, and otherwise functioning well as fourth graders at our school. But I have seen how excited they get, the sudden jump in motivation when they have a larger audience; it is remarkable how much care and thought they give in a different way than when I’m their audience. Suddenly it isn’t just about pleasing me, about succeeding or failing in school (as it is, whatever I say or do), about proving their brilliance, but it is about communication with others out there. Believe me, I understand because I too write differently here knowing I have an audience of some unknown size.
  2. Response. The children are always excited and motivated when they sense that someone other than their teacher is going to read their work, but even moreso when they may get responses. This was one of the things that most excited them when they did the amazon reviews. They loved reading and then writing responses in the journals and so I have no doubt that it will be an easy matter for them to do so on their blogs. Teaching them to do so with care, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness will be one of my many responsibilities.
  3. Moving on Out. To start with the blogs will be private; only accessible within our school community. But I very much hope that I can make them public because I know my students would love to have people throughout the world comment on their blogs. I’m blown away to see who reads my blog; there are people from all over the places coming by. I’d love to have that to happen for my students as well. In the past I did a number of web projects that got broad attention which was quite exciting for the kids; I suspect a similar situation will occur with these blogs.
  4. Old Wine in New Bottles. I’ve got a pretty set curriculum, content-wise. Of course I tweak it, add to it here, take away from it there, but I like what we do and so don’t change it drastically from year to year. But I love to explore new ways to teach it and I’ve already got a million ideas as to how I will do things this year with these blogs.

Can you tell how excited I am about this?

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