Blogging. How can we use it in the classroom? How can we get students involved? Is it something that should be graded? If so, how? How can blogs be integrated into a class that doesn’t involve a lot of writing? And finally how do my students find time to complete their blog posts? These were all questions I had when reading the articles for class this week.
I want to focus on the article that I took the most away from this week. Michael Drennan’s article Blogging in the Classroom: why your students should write online provides some great arguments for having students blog. I couldn’t agree more with the rewards outweighing the risks of having students blog. I especially like that plagiarism becomes pretty obsolete. It makes sense right? Why would a student risk plagiarizing when their work is public and can be seen by anyone on the web? The chances of being caught and being labeled as someone who steals the work of someone else. I also think it’s a great way to show student development and a way for students to learn from comments that their peers and others provide them. It’s a great way for them to share their work with someone other than their teacher. It also provides an opportunity for parents to follow along with their blog.
I came across 14 steps to meaningful student blogging and one of the ideas I struggle with is not grading the blogs. I understand why you wouldn’t assign a grade, but my worry is that my students wouldn’t blog if it wasn’t for marks. I guess I have a lot of questions with the whole assessment part of it. How often should students be blogging? If I don’t give them some type of grade/assessment, how do I motivate them to blog? Teaching high school and only seeing students for an hour a day creates another problem of finding the time for it to be done properly.
This leads me to my next problem. Integrating blogging into classes like Accounting and Math. I found a few ideas from different sites. I really like the idea of showcasing student work. Students can use an iPad and capture a screenshot or even take pictures of their notebook to be uploaded to their site. I would ask students to take it a step further and create a video to explain how they solved the problem. Here are five more ways that blogs can be used in a math class. I want to try have students write their own problems to post on their blog for others to try and solve. It might really make students think outside the box and it will also demonstrate their level of understanding.
If anyone has any suggestions for ways to integrate blogs into a class that doesn’t usually involve a lot of writing, I’d love to hear from you. I’d also love to know if you grade your blog entries or how you assess them.
I feel like I have to comment on my personal blogging experience and some of the connections I made with the other articles this week. Just like Dallas, I was never really too keen on sharing my thoughts in a public space online. I used to feel like no one really cared what I had to say. But the more I blog and share on Twitter, the more connections I make with people who comment, retweet or follow me. It seems the more you share and the more you try to connect with others, the greater your voice becomes. It’s pretty neat to be able to connect with people who you’ve never even met before and know that you will both benefit from the connection by learning from each other.
I can relate to a lot of what Clive Thompson had to say in Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter. As Clive states, “when you feel like you are writing to an audience of 0 and suddenly you have an audience of 10 it’s quite something.” I know exactly how that feels. When I first started using Twitter I didn’t feel like anyone was “listening” or like anyone cared. Now that I have over 110 followers I think a lot more about what I am Tweeting and the audience I am reaching out to. I know 110 followers is NOTHING in the grand scheme of things, but I have been adding at least 3 followers per week since class started and I feel like I am gaining some ground giving me a larger audience.
When we think about who our audience is it changes the way we write. If I am writing an email to a friend it will sound a lot different than an email I write to a colleague or administrator. If I am writing a blog intended for my students it will sound different than one written for my peers. For myself writing is hard. I feel the pressure every time I set out to write a post. Sometimes when I try to just write and forget about who I am writing to it helps more. Most of the time I ask myself why am I writing this? Who am I writing to? Most of the time I am assuming my audience is my classmates and hopefully some other teachers that my blog reached. Understanding our audience and having a purpose for writing will change the way we write. We need to help our students with this process in order to give them the freedom to write and blog successfully.