Integrating technology into the classroom is a must. As teachers, we need to increase student motivation in reading and writing to impact their learning and answer the demands of the “real world.” The easiest way to address this problem is through blogging. Blogs enable us to meet students’ learning where it happens for them - online and interactive. Additionally, blogs have revolutionized the way we share ideas and resources with other teachers, and also allow administrators and parents a peek into what is going on behind the classroom doors.
Upper Elementary and Middle School Level
150 Minutes (One class session for Introduction and Orientation to blogs and blogging and two class sessions for practicing proper blog etiquette and posting/responding routines)
Stahmer, Tim. "Why use blogs in the classroom?."AssortedStuff. March 1, 2007. Read/Write Web. 25 Aug 2007 http://www.assortedstuff.com/stuff/?p=70.
I have seen the increase in motivation of my students to write due to blogging, but what do the experts say about blogging?
- It encourages independent thought & motivates students to write. Blogging is a high interest way of getting kids to write, something that is a fast growing area of research. It doesn’t take much study, however, to know that using technology is a motivator for many kids. Our students are “digital natives” so technology tools are an innate part of their vocabulary and it is to our advantage to use the tools they are comfortable with.
- Blogging facilitates free flow of ideas anytime and anywhere. Students can write blog posts from their home computer at anytime of the day. Not only that but it benefits the teacher as well. Student work written as blog posts is easy for the teacher to read and respond to. The teacher can also work at home without carting a crate of notebooks or papers. The material is more legible, and the font size in a browser can even be increased, making reading student work easier on the eyes.
- Blogging fosters discussion and collegiality between students and in turn allows them to become critical readers. Students are given the chance to read and review what their fellow classmates write, which encourages critical thinking as students defend or refute the comment posts of others. The process of blogging addresses the problem of “wait time” in questioning. All students, regardless of learning style, have the time to consider the prompt and formulate a response. It allows students a way to compare the quality of their comments, form and content, to other comment posts. This provides an interesting twist on peer editing and using student work to model writing skills; students must learn to carefully read what others have written in order to write meaningful comments.
- The growth of the student as a thinker, reader, and writer is saved. Student work is automatically is archived, creating a portfolio of their work over a period of time. It is then easy to go back and compare the quality of the posts and comments from early to late in the school year.
For the introductory lesson, the students will:
- Incorporate media or technology to respond to questions
- Follow multi-step directions to complete a complex task
Once a teacher allows a day or two to “experiment” on the blog, later objectives might include:
Writing: Student will be able to follow the writing process to apply writing process to write effectively in various forms and types of writing.
Reading: Student will be able to apply pre-reading, during reading and post-reading to comprehend text.
* There are many objectives to assess when incorporating the use of a blog into classroom instruction and discussions.
The teacher and students must have access to computers with an internet connection. An LCD projector would be good to lead students through the demonstration phase of this project or sharing of comments.
- Blogger - Create Your Blog Now
A free resource for creating and managing a classroom blog.
- Bravenet WebBlogs
Create your WebBlog here.
- Landmarks Blog Meister
An online blogging and hosting tool for classroom teachers.
Before Classroom Instruction
- School districts have guidelines and acceptable use policies (AUP) regarding the use of school and district wide computer networks and the Internet. These terms and conditions identify acceptable online behavior and access privileges. Policies regarding the displaying of any student work must be strictly adhered to. First discuss with your administrators the guidelines for participating. Then take the necessary steps to secure parental permission before using the blog in a participatory manner: a permission letter and acceptable use agreement that outlines the project's purposes and the basic rules for participation in the project.
- Create a class blog. For my classroom, I used Blogger to create my assignment and classroom discussion center. For the purposes of this lesson Blogger is the site I will reference. Blogger is a simple site to use, but you will want to make sure that you have familiarized yourself with this site. How do you get started? Here's an easy way:
- Go to Blogger.
- Click Start Here or Learn more about it and then click to begin.
- Type in your username, password, name, and e-mail account.
- Fill in a title and description for your blogging Web page.
- Keep the circle by "Host at…."
- Type an address for your blog.
- Click to accept terms of service, and then click Next.
- Select a template and click Finish.
- Type an entry. (Maybe, “What are your thoughts on using blogs?”)
- Choose different formatting if you wish (to bold, italic, etc.).
- Hit Post and Publish.
- Wait a few seconds and then hit View Web Page.
Still need additional help? One option to consider is to watch a You Tube Video: The 5 Minute Blog. This video will get your blog up and running for classroom use.
- As a warm-up activity, pose the journal prompt: “How is online writing different from pen and paper writing?” Allow reflection time for teacher and student to respond to this prompt in their notebook.
- Ask students to share their responses. Teacher may record students thoughts on anchor chart to display in the classroom.
- Once that is completed, introduce the concept of the blog,; the use of the projection device might be helpful during this portion of the lesson. Show students basic functions of the blog and demonstrate the steps to posting on the blog.
- After teacher demonstrates how to use the blog, allow students time to reflect on the “rules & norms” that the classroom should have in regard to the blog.
- Again record student responses on an anchor chart to display in the computer lab. Make students aware of what subject matter is appropriate and permissible. Teach students the importance of tone and respect for others' opinions and have clear expectations, rules, and consequences. Display this in the lab so students can be reminded while they work on the blog.
- At the beginning of the next session, take students to the lab and ask students to log on to the computer. Direct students to your created classroom blog. Once they are on the site ask them to post to your first comment. Here is an example that I used to experiment with during the introductory lesson.
I am excited to that we get the chance to use this technology. What do you think about using the computer method to conduct class? Be specific on why you like it or don't like it.
Example responses I received from my students:
I like getting to use the computers I think we should use them everyday. It's an easier way to get help for something you might not understand.
I think we should use computer. In fact I think we should use computers every day because once we get into college. In today’s world, there are a lot of jobs you have to use computers everyday.
I think that using the computer method to conduct class is an awesome idea! I like it because it is a great way to get kids interested in school in the way that they like most, TECHNOLOGY!” Technology is changing our world and sitting in a classroom all day forces some like me to be quiet and not to contribute. But I have to with this!
- As students are posting, teacher needs to move around the room to answer individual student concerns or questions.
- Allow sharing and responding time. Once students have posted ask them to read and reflect on their peers posts. If time allows, ask students to respond to one or more of their peers posts.
After class, review students’ posts. Remember the objective of this lesson was that the student can and will incorporate media or technology to respond to questions. Assess the aspects that the student did indeed post on this “experimentation” day on the blog and that they answered all aspects of the question posed by the teacher. A simple assessment for these introductory practice sessions may be a good idea
The classroom blog has become a “staple” in my classroom instruction and discussions. I allow as much classroom time as I can and schedule computer lab time at least one day a week. This type of communication invites and allows everyone to participate in classroom discussions. Here are a variety of example posts I have used in my reading and writing classroom.
Reading Workshop Example Post
Research for a book online that you think you might be interested in reading. Look on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Please post what book interests you, the author, and what you like about the book.
Post your five prediction words. Your peers will try and predict what your book is about. Please put the title and the author in case anyone wants to read your book.
In reading workshop, you spend time engaging in your text. I want you to make a connection with your text by locating a picture on-line. Once you have your picture, I want you to pull a passage from your reading and display that on Word. I have provided a model for you to use.
Writing Workshop Example Post
Attach a copy of your personal narrative to this post.
Using the Microsoft Editing Tools, peer revise your partner’s paper and attach it to this post.
For my students’ protection, I have a closed blog. I have created a guest access account; to obtain guest access please e-mail me. However, I have created a blog for parents to obtain information about daily assignments, click this link to visit my classroom.
NCTE/IRA Standards the Lesson Addresses (PDF)
Missouri Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs) the Lesson Addresses (PDF)