Monday, May 23, 2005

Reflecting on the Blog

I started my education blog around the same time as I had my students begin a blog for the classroom--Pre-College. Now that the year is starting to come to a close, 14 days for the Pre-College students, I am in search of an answer for the question, "How do I do it better?"

Here are my reflections and questions on classroom blogging:

The Blogging Goal--the classroom blog is a place where students react to the literature we read in class. The blog gives them a place to wrestle with theme, plot, characters, and self-to-text connections. The blog allows them to interact with each other outside the typical classroom setting, while giving every student the opportunity to be heard (read). How do I introduce blogging to incoming students next year in a way that decreases the attitude that this assignment is just like any other assingment?

Blogging Success--I've noticed that in the semester I've had students blogging, some of the quietest students in class often have tremendous contributions through the blogging medium. The students who have regularly attended to this assignment have subsequently written, at the very least, one paragraph per week. The students have been provided with the opportunity to interact with literature and each other outside of the classroom setting. With multiple classes, is it best to have one blog site for all classes, or separate blog sites? I would have to encourage students to look beyond their class blog if we had separate sites, adding to the blogging experience.

Blogging Failures--students too often just punched something out at the last minute or just to get it done. Posts were a summary of pages read and not an interaction. Students just didn't do the blog. Comments on other posts were often too brief or lacking in content. Grammatical mistakes were abundant. Should blogging in the classroom be held to the same standards as essay writing, or should we give into the text-message culture?(I might not be ready for that)
How do I introduce blogging, and encourage blogging, in a way that prompts students to want to post? Students posted, did their comment, and forgot about it until the next week. How do I encourage students to go beyond just the assignment and use blogging as forum for discussion?

Other Questions:
1. Should the teacher post on the classroom blog?
2. Should the teacher interact, through comments, on the classroom blog?
3. Should posts be graded, if so, what should the criteria be?

15 Comments:

At 7:40 AM , Anonymous Ivy said...

As a student in online graduate-level classes, I've learned a lot about email, newsgroups, and blogging in the classroom.

If, as a teacher, you want to post/comment in the classroom blog, you can use your posts/comments to further discussion. When you note that someone's post has not been very well thought out, you can ask directed questions to get them thinking more deeply about something they've mentioned about the text.

Also, I don't think that posts themselves should be graded -- as it turns the blog into an assignment just like any other assignment, which is something you seem to want to avoid -- but participation in the blog can be graded. For me, in my classes, it is required that I "make a substantial daily contribution to classroom discussion". "Substantial" is highly subjective, but it's that subjectivity that prompts the class to really think about their posts and comments so that they will, hopefully, qualify.

I hope that helps.

 
At 2:14 AM , Blogger David said...

I'll get the adulation out the way first... Thank you for an interesting and thought provoking blog. I hope you don't mind, but I've shown your blog to my pre-service teachers and tried to encourage them to follow your example. I wrote about you and what I hope my students will gain from blogging in Things I wish I'd known...

To respond to one of your questions: you ask How do I introduce blogging to incoming students next year in a way that decreases the attitude that this assignment is just like any other assingment? I wonder if you have come across Gilly Salmon's work on e-moderating? She is writing mostly about working in an electronic conference environment, but a lot of what she says would (I think) work with blogs.

Check out the websites that support her two books: e-moderating and e-tivities. In particular, look at the five stage model. I suspect that if you set activities (or e-tivities in Gilly-speak) that encourage students to spend some time at stages 2 and 3 you will get more and better knowledge construction and reflection/development in the later stages.

The temptation is to jump right into the later stages and push them to share deep thoughts about their understanding before they have had the chance to develop their blog legs. If you want to know more about Gilly's ideas, send me an email and I'll see what I can do to help.

 
At 12:10 PM , Blogger Matt Johnston said...

Since you had posted comments to my writing post, I checked out your blog. I find it interesting that teachers are now using blogs to further the education experience and continue classroom discussion.

But in furthering my theme of expanding the writing skills of students, I would encourage you to require adherence to standard English. Using the text-message English that is now becoming common place detracts from the ability to formulate reasoned and lucid responses on the fly.

I don't think you should grade every post, but as a matter of course, anyone who uses text message style should be reminded, publicly on the blog, that such writing is not acceptable for the blog.

 
At 12:47 PM , Blogger EdWonk said...

We've linked this post at this week's Tales From The Trenches: Classroom Teachers Speak.

 
At 4:08 PM , Blogger stephen lazar said...

Your thoughts really helped me think about my teaching with blogs. I posted some thought on my blog.

 
At 9:12 AM , Blogger Vanessa P. said...

Posting blogs online for class has been a completely new experiance for me. Well it's been a new experiance for all of us in the class. I wouldn't say that i hate it but it has become something that I must NOT forget about it so I always wory that I WILL forget and then not get the points. It has been a place where I can type the truth about the book and not get into trouble.
This thing about gradng blogs as if they were essay's is ridiculous. It should be something that we just type out with no wory that I spell everything wrong like I'm doing now. It's a blog lie if it were an email to a friend. Its about how we feel about the book we're reading and how we interact with it.
I don't necassarily know how this shold be graded but I think that it shouldnt be made SUCH a big deal. Make it something that they are familiar to since the beggining of the year. Since it was introduced to us in the middle of the year we didn't exactly take it seriously. Maybe if next years kids find know that its a art of the rubric since the beggining then maybe they will take it as a regular assignment.
I hope that i was of some help. And i hop all goes good for next year and the kids that are coming in.

 
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I have also put you on my blog that carries nearly 300 work-related
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Thanks for reading my email and I hope you can manage to help
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I pause, my fingers resting on the keys, and reread what I just typed. It’s become clear in the last week or so that the “Irish problem,” as my politics professor calls it, could be summed up in one word.... I bite my lip and sink back into my chair in the library computer lab at the University of Ulster. Behind me, six rows of students click away at their keyboards, writing papers, checking MySpace, and chatting with friends. The cursor on my screen blinks impatiently, waiting for me to continue. Surely my fellow students aren’t peering over my shoulder, curious to see what the American—arrived just a few weeks earlier in their country—has to say in her graduate school blog about Irish history. But what if they are? Or worse, what if one of my professors stumbles across my rudimentary analysis, posted exactly three weeks—six class sessions—into my master’s program?

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