Why use blogs?
Pericles’ piece on the blogging culture at Belmore South school is an excellent foray into the real-world application of blogs in the classroom. The author described a myriad of different activities in which students in Years 4, 5, and 6 engaged using blogs as the primary expression medium of their work.
One application that I found most useful was the international critquing and analyzing of a students’ book, all through a blog. The student was planning on posting her book on a blog in order to receive comments and feedback from a variety of audiences, from New Zealand to America. This serves as an extremely rewarding way of receiving feedback, since the student knows that a readership from around the world is accessing and enjoying her work.
Another activity that teachers would find promising is the creation of a pictorial representation of where all the hits and comments on a classroom blog are being received from around the world. This would capture the engagement of the classroom since it would be quite amazing to the students to find that the very material they are contributing to the blog is actually being read from locations thousands of kilometers away. It provides direct and definite relevance, purpose, and audience for students, which are key motivating factors for any work that students contribute (Pericles 2008). One of the biggest “cool factors” that blogs have going for them is that they allow people from around the world to actually read their work… someone other than the teacher!
Another interesting and important idea about blogging is the concept of quality control and standards. It is extremely easy to create a blog individually, or even as a class, that isn’t of the highest quality. This would defeat the purpose of using blogs in the classroom as a quality teaching method. First, the class should go through blogs of other schools, classrooms, and even individuals or celebrities that students like. Then as a group, the class should make comments about the general aesthetic backgrounds, themes, writing style, grammar, and other features of the text. Using this information along with evaluating what makes a blog appealing and worthwhile, the class would develop a set of blogging rules, standards, and criteria. Continued reference to these criteria would ensure that students know explicitly what is expected of them and result in the best experience possible in terms of quality teaching and learning (Pericles 2008).
Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6.
A tale of two blogs
Fabulous 5S (http://5s2012.edublogs.org)
This blog is from the 5S classroom at Epping Heights Public School in Epping. It is a multi-purpose Year 5 class blog that nicely incorporates the arts/music activities in their school. For example, pictures from their Year 6 farewell preparation are posted, in addition to selected video and audio performances from their ‘presentation day.’ There are also links to students’ own individual blogs, such as a child’s Minecraft blog. In terms of classroom academics, the blog contains a recent selected individual essay about how the year went from the students’ perspective which is a nice and appropriate blog post to have towards the end of the year. Earlier on, I found the inclusion of a science experiment along with results in pictures to be highly effective as well. Overall, this blog would be perfect for Stage 3 audiences to model their blogs on, given that a variety of topics and information about their classroom and the school itself is included. Stage 2 would also be an appropriate audience as they can see what they may build up to in the future.
Learning Legends @ Lonnie (http://threefourlonnie.global2.vic.edu.au/)
This blog is from an Australian primary school called Point Lonsdale Public School in Victoria. It is a year 3/4 blog, so one stage under the blog reviewed above. In contrast to the blog above, the entries in this blog are almost exclusively submitted by the teacher “Mrs Murphy” as opposed to student entries. This is positive in one respect, as the blog contains little to no grammatical or spelling errors and enough interesting material. At stage 2, it is probably best that the teacher do most of the posting, as students may not be capable of writing enough. However, the authenticity and “realness” of the blog is lost when it is simply the teacher who posts everything. Other than this shortcoming, the blog is organized and presented well, with a pleasing graphical theme and good material related to their efforts to reach out internationally. For example, the blog features the school’s “BIG Act of Kindness” campaign to help benefit Australian soliders and Afghani students they got in touch with. The blog would be most suited for stage 2 audiences, although it would be certainly be appropriate to stage 3 as well.
Here is the link to my Scoop It site.
Teaching Math & Science in the Classroom