Sunday, April 6, 2008

Today...I went for a blog!

Blog Posting #9


Blogging? Hmmm...what can I say? I am so used to blogging now it seems that is has become a habit more than a conscious effort. i do enjoy it and have created a personal blog that I am not yet confident enough to show many. I must say that I think the number one benefit of blogging (in the classroom and outside) is refection. Blogging allows you to look back on your writing and see what you were thinking at that time. A friend of mine has always been a big "blogger" and I read her blog, but never created my own out of fear I would have nothing to say that interested anyone reading it. Through blogging in this course I have realized that it is not only about the people reading your blog, but as well it is about you recording thoughts and being able to later read and reflect on them. When you are recording your thoughts and re-reading them you learn a lot about the way you think and reason. I think this would be beneficial for students in their learning process. If you had students create a blog it would be a virtual journal/diary and could potentially be a real life changer.

Blogging uses in the classroom;

-Reading students blogs would allow us to understand them better. We could have students create weekly blogs and through this we could understand what is happening in their lives. This would be especially great for introverted students who chose not to talk in class a lot.
-Blogs would be a good way for students to better connect with each other. Through blogging students could communicate and form connections outside the classroom that could carry through within the classroom. A community like feeling could be created from blogging amongst peers.
-Blogs would be a good way for students to converse about anything that is going on in their lives. Maybe for those that don't have close relationships with parents/teachers/peers blogs would offer a way to have a virtual conversation. Students could blog about anything they wish to in order to get their thoughts out.
-Blogging would allow your students to practice their writing skills. If you had your students create blogs that would be marked you could use them to assess their writing skills.
-Blogging would be a great way to introduce students to the beneficial uses of computers. Especially for those students who were not confident using computers, blogging would prove that they could definitely use one.
-Blogging is a way to get out whats on your mind. Unlike many of the other Web 2.0 tools we have come across, blogging is a way to record personal thoughts and feelings. Blogs don't have to be public, but can be just the same. Students could have one blog that is just for personal use and a public one for friends/family etc...
- If students have a blog in school it forces them to write for an audience. Students would likely put forth more effort and imaginative writing skills when writing for an audience.
Those are just some of the many examples of ways that blogging can be beneficial in the classroom.

Creating a blog:

Creating a blog is amazingly easy. I have explored several blogging sites and here is a list of some of my favorites;
-Blogger.com
-squarespace.com
-blogspot.com
-blogflux.com
-blogscanada.com
-thoughts.com

Essentially a blog is a personal space for your mind on the Internet. ! It can be a collection of thoughts, pictures, ideas, links, political beliefs and anything else you can dream up that is organized in chronicle order and can be viewed in an HTML browser. You definitely do not have to be a "techie" to figure out a blog. The blog sites that I explored all made it very simple to set up an account...and most of them are free. From my explorations I found that most blogs are updated quite frequently and are usually kept up by the same person. I didn't see many blogs that were written by a network of people or even more than one person. I also found that most blog sites were written on specific topics. There were many personal blogs that were diaries of people's lives, but there were also several blogs that were topic specific. Here are some of the features that I found on most of the blog sites I explored;
-Archives-This includes links to past entries and websites etc.
-comments-others who read the blogs can usually leave comments about the blog writer.
-Photos-Most blogs have pictures posted within them
One of the greatest things about a blog is that you do not have to go to separate sights to download all of your information. For example you can just go to your blog and download pictures, record information, download web links etc.

Articles related to blogging:

I found some interesting articles when I was exploring blogs. One of the articles was called "What we are really doing when we blog." http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/06/13/megnut.html
Meg Hourian, the author, mentions a few things about blogs I found very interesting. She introduces us to an article she reviewed that suggested that after September 11 blogs took on a different tone. Blogs, the article suggested, used to be personal diaries, but after September 11 they became political sites that commented on news channels etc. This I found interesting because not once did I come across this type of blog in my search. I agree these extreme political blogs are likely out there, but this seems like an extreme generalization and it really got me thinking about whether or not others don't blog because they think this is what blogs are all about. I must admit that the first time I heard the word blog I thought about websites in which people rant and rave about wordly issues (which can be good at times) and self-consumed worries. I had a negative outlook on blogging myself so that is why this statement caught my eye. The author puts a more positive spin on blogging as a wonderful form of communication rather than political badgering. She suggests that it is a system that allows us to say what we need to say...which I agree with.

One of the other articles I found interesting was called "Blah, Blah, Blah and Blog." This author refers to blogs as transforming journalism as we know it and being the way of the future. He also brings up an example of how blogs are being used as a tool in the corporate world to inter-connect people in different regions within the same company. When you think of this idea many of the other Web 2.0 tools come to mind, but never blogging???? The author suggests employees that live in very different areas but feel like they really know each other because of blogging. So I guess blogs can connect people in the same ways as tools like wikis do. They are a great way to learn about people.

Blogs related to professional development:

K-12blogWrite http://www.k-12blogwrite.com - A blog site for teachers from K-12. They describe this site as a hallway...one that is very informal. People can come and go, chat, close the doors or open them on blogging.

Eduliscious http://www.edulicious.com
-This blog site is run and written by a technology coordinator, but the topics range from technology in the classroom to philosophical issues in teaching.

http://edublogawards.com/2007/best-teacher-blog-2007/ -This web link provides us with several of the best teacher blogs there are. It seems to me that this would be the place to go if you wanted to look through a list of topics before looking at a blog for professional development.

The one that I reviewed in detail was called "Teaching Generation Y" (http://gwegner.edublogs.org/). This blog site reviewed issues from cyber bullies to problem-based learning. I liked the fact that there was a categories section where you could highlight a specific entry based on its title. This was convenient because you didn't have to go through the blogging in chronological order but rather you could just jump to the blog you wanted. This blog is fantastic for professional development because it allows you to explore a wide variety of controversial and non-controversial issues. It also organizes them in an easy to follow way with no time wasted!

So, I think blogging is a tremendous tool, not so much because it is a useful teaching tool, but more so in terms of reflection. Students can use blogging more for personal motivation and reflection than they could to learn new material. Reflection was one of the most important tools I learned in my teacher training and I have definitely carried that through to my students. Blogging is one of the Web 2.0 tools that allows this ritual to be practiced.

4 comments:

Arlene said...

Hi Jean, I wasn't aware of how blogs changed after 9/11. Our school trustee started a blog when campaigning and now updates it regularly. It provides an interesting perspective for stakeholders including teachers, parents and the community at large. Arlene

Val said...

Hi Jean: I agree blogs are a great opportunity for reflection. It really brings out the personality of the blogger. I like the idea of the reluctant student. It creates a more effective way for him/her to collaborate in a group.
Cheers
Val

Linda Morgan said...

Another positive for blogging is that it's another avenue to communicate with absent parents. For example, I have a student whose mother lives in another town. The mom was asking if I had a class newsletter that I could send to her. That started me thinking, "Aha. I can do one better than that." so I started a class blog. It's pretty simple, but does provide regular communication between school and home - no matter where "home" is or how many homes there are.

Ronda said...

Hi Jean,

When I look at how far our own class's blogs have come since we first started, I think about how blogs will do the same for our students. They provide an online archive of our learning process. I like Richardson' suggestion that blogs can become an e-portfolio of our learning!

Ronda