The power of blogging

Sue Waters has requested responses to her post on helping her to inspire future teachers. Thanks Sue, and this is part of my response to your request.

The different technologies used in my classrooms are as follows:-

  • Blogging – globalstudent, a campus of edublogs
  • Live blogging coveritlive
  • Google apps – word, sheet, forms, reader, earth, street etc
  • Podcasting – audacity, sony acid, podomatic, iTunes
  • Digital storytelling with MS Moviemaker or Sony Vegas Movie Studio
  • Skype – videoconferencing
  • virtual classroom with discovere
  • Wikis with wikispaces

 This post will concentrate on blogging, the one that I love using most of all. Our school features the following:-

  • School home blog page with links to staff, subject and class blogs
  • Class blogs- grade prep to year 9
  • Students blogs from grades 4-8 and majority of years 9 and 10 (see links to all from my globalteacher blog site on RHS sidebar) See  great examples of a  year 9 and year 6 student blog.
  • Two personal blogs -documenting my journey for both personal reflection and to share with other teachers and  the other on my journey to share with my students, lesson plans, extras for when I am absent, reflections, filing cabinet, resources etc

As I teach grades 2 to 12 information technology, I try to give the students a prompt for each lesson  or each week, to keep the blogs active.Many web2.0 tools are used eg Images, digital movies, voicethread, wordle, cartoon making. Befunky is used to manipulate photos and images to disguise students, to keep the blogs interesting and dynamic. Students love their work to look good. Much use is made of irfanview and MS Paint to resize and rename photos for uploading into blogs. Teachers across subject areas are now encouraging students to use their blogs as a showcase and a powerful, interactive tool for writing, recording, reflecting, reporting and assessment.

How it has helped the students (and staff)

  • Authentic audience – Students are always more motivated when there is an authentic audience eg Steph a young grade 5 student recently and independently put her own post prompt up “I’ll ask the world a question (that’s you) and you answer it  Whats your favorite movie and why?” To the absolute, sheer delight of Steph, she got 20 global comments from USA, Israel, NZ and Aus, which has encouraged her to write frequently and in greater depth and check out this wonderful comment from a teacher in AZ (guess that means Arizona)

Bonnie Keene // Aug 3rd 2008 at 11:44 am

Hi Steph! Congrats on your first question to the world! I’m a 4th grade teacher in Tucson, AZ and I can’t wait to have my new students answer your blog (I think I’ll make it one of their first technology assignments) Before they answer you, I need to give you my answer. I am a total movie freak, so this is a really tough one for me …hmmm….I think I’d have to say The Princess Bride. I’ve seen it so many times over the years, and it still makes me laugh. It’s one of those fun movies that people quote all the time. The book’s great too, btw.

  • A yr 10 boy whose work was not fully completed work in the traditional subjects, asked if he could put a piece of his English work onto his blog. After adding feedjit to his sidebar widgets, he found that he had been googled by someone in Paris!!!  Imagine his delight and the motivation this provides for further writing activities.
  • Providing a support community in times of grief eg Honka. Class work is often affected by lack of concentration, but feedback like this helps the healing process and eventually the learning process resumes.
  • Immediate and powerful exposure to the globe, its cultures and digital citizenship. The students take it in turns to set a post prompt and one from Connecticut asked us:- So my question for you is this:What is your favoite holiday and what are some traditions you have? Most chose Christmas. However, we sometimes get extra students in our class now and our students have little exposure to any other cultures, when an extra student came on board with this comment:-

I wouldn’t really do anything because i don’t celebrate Christmas, after all it IS for Christians and i am Muslim. So I don’t celebrate it, but we could buy trees and do Christmasy things too you know, but my family don’t really. Some Muslims like me decorate the house, have fun with friends and play games have BBQ’s too and play in pools, visit relatives, go amazing places like Cool Parks and Luna Park and Harbour Bridge.
Yes, so there. But as muslims, we have Eid to celebrate, which is a different celebration for a prophet of ours. We do MANY things listed in what i said a few sentences ago. It is SO FUN!!!! ) Our traditions are go to a religious muslim tower where we pray called “Jamaii”, hard to pronounce i know. We pray or just say prayers at home for god. And some other traditions go visit relatives and eat Arabic or food from our countries (lebanon for me though!).
Alot you have to learn there! Think you’ve learn somethings??

  • The blogs can feature multimedia, so students can use images, videos, podcasting rather than writing for classwork.
  • Show what they are doing in class.
  • Discover hidden talents eg photography
  • Keeping parents and grandparents informed – Parents are beginning to make comments and grandparents from the UK often comment on their grandchildren’s blog posts.
  • Conversations can start and this is where the real learning and discussion work can begin.
  • Pride, improved self esteem, increased confidence as dots appear on their clustr maps and the comments come in.
  • Students direct their own learning

Some notes

  • The first 5 mins must be kept free, for students to check their clustr maps or feedjit maps and feeds. Students will look up the geographical location of their dots, respond via comments and/or email. This gives them an authentic task when they have a real person to email or respond to.
  • Sometimes, they will be encouraged to comment on at least two members of the class’ blogs
  • Students will actively go out and seek other student blogs to get dots and comments
  • Many will happily post further entries at home and in their spare time.

4 responses to “The power of blogging

  1. Wow Anne. Impressive. I love this world I am just entering. May I share this post at a future PD day? It summarises so much of what we can do, and your learners are already there. Great stuff.

  2. Hi Anne – thanks for taking the time to share all this great information. I only had 2 hours to cover so much with them and really hope that the student teachers take the time to read through all the information that has been shared with them. Regardless I know that all tips and advice shared will help some many others in their use of these tools in the classrooms.

  3. Anne, this is testament to why we do things such as blogging with our students. You have definitely put forward a convincing argument for any scecptics. Thanks for such a great, inspirational post.

  4. Pingback: I’m going Portugese!!! Well my blog is… « On an e-journey with generation Y

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