Daily Archives: June 7, 2013

Week 5: Blogs and Learning

This topic was particularly interesting to me because of the use of our blog for this class. It was neat to see how some of the suggestions for teacher use of blogs in the classroom are being implemented with this course. Blogging is a fun tool to integrate into the classroom. This is the first time I have had interaction personally on a blog; although recently, I have been reading more educator blogs. Through the use of pinterest, I have been able to read various teacher blogs for ideas that I have liked to try in my classroom. After reading the assigned articles and having personally explored teacher blogs in the past, I believe that these are positive tools to use and integrate into the classroom.

In formal learning environments, blogs can be used to help student derive meaning from lessons. Students have the ability to participate socially with peers as they post about their learning and follow up with comments. When commenting, students have the ability to reflect on the thoughts and inquiries of others in a way that could be much different than their own thinking. If this occurs, students could possibly be driven to research and negotiate their thoughts in relation to peer posts. I like the idea that, as much as possible, the teacher should allow the students to take ownership of the blog. When teachers start to interact and post in a blog, the view can still be seen as teacher-directed learning. When it is left in the hands of the students, still with clear expectations of what should be posted, the students tend to stretch their thinking and reflecting of learning. Blogs in the classroom could be used as discussion boards for topics being presented in class. Students can respond, post questions, or even offer linked ideas or concepts to the content being covered in the classroom.

Outside of the formal classroom, blogs also play an influential role in learning. Just as Balsley pointed out in the article, Ten Good Reasons to Start a Blog, blogs allow us to become inspired. It helps the creator want to learn more, to distribute more information, to expand inquiries of others so that both you and the reader can learn. Sharing ideas and advice for the classroom on blogs has helped me personally grow as an educator. I have been inspired by other teacher ideas that have been posted on blogs in either content-related activities or classroom management strategies. Knowing that someone else in a similar position (elementary/second grade) has tried these ideas, gives me excitement to try them in my own classroom.

As far as application of blogs in the classroom, the first major point that I liked from, Three Teachers Answers’ to Questions on Classroom Microblogging, is the idea that especially in the primary grades, these technology tools are new to students. The first thing they will want to do is to explore what the tool can do. The quote, “It is natural for young students to be slightly distracted by new technologies, but the “newness” wears off quickly. I remember a day when a student introduced the smiley face —  — to a discussion, and the other kids were fascinated! A majority of the students lost focus of our activity and tried to make their own smiley faces. For this age group, many of the text symbols had never before been introduced. So, instead of immediately directing them back to our discussion, I took the opportunity to briefly explain text symbols and discuss appropriate usage, then we were able to get back on topic. For some students, our class time is the only exposure they have to computers, made me envision something similar happening in my own classroom! It is important to remember that sometimes we need to take a sidebar to explain something unrelated to the core content just so that we can regain focus of students for the task at hand. Also, another important thing to remember is that we need to teach our students how to use the tool before letting them use it. With blogging, it is important to teach the idea of proper posts and comments. We need to spend time teaching students how to disagree with other views in a respectful way. Also, we need to remember to reinforce the idea that what they write on public blogs will be seen by many, which will require careful monitoring on our part!

When considering blogging as a tool in my classroom, I need to consider the ability level of my students to access the blog and type posts. Although it is a great idea, sometimes voice led posts may be the most effective way to dispense student knowledge. One idea that has grabbed my attention from one of the blogs I checked out was the idea of integrating blog reading into reading workshop times. I can easily see myself adding a rotation to my reading workshop time, where I already have some students reading fluency passages with me, some at their desks reading self-selected books, some at my carpet reading special themed books, and some at our large posters. At the added rotation, students could be reading other primary leveled blogs and could possibly be making comments on them. Not only would this be great reading practice, it would also become an exciting task for students as they see what other second graders are doing across the country or world. Overall, I believe blogging can allow students and teachers alike to become inspired and excited about new ideas and concepts which would initiate further research and learning in and out of the classroom!

In my podcast, I interviewed Mike Hammel. He is one of our district’s technology integration coaches.

Podcast EDTEC 467


Week 5 Blog and Podcast

Week 5 Blog

What do you see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?

From my point of view, I believe the role of a blog in a formal learning environment is for educators to ADD depth and interest for students. I don’t think a blog should “take over” a class. A blog should not be the sole assignment or project. Blogs should be places for students to “have a voice”, participate, and feel like they belong. As the Bartholomew text Educational Blog Management Strategies and Tools reports, blogging is the “most education friendly” of the new Web 2.0 tools.

“The new and unique qualities of Web 2.0 can be compounded in traditional educational settings by the fact that students often times have far more experience with and understanding the new technology than the teachers who are developing curriculums and setting educational goals.” Why not let these students ADD depth and interest to their learning goals? Why limit the resources for your students? Why not make it MEANINGFUL to them?

The teacher/professional blog that I enjoyed reading through most was Will Richardson’s blog. My favorite part of his blog (and a part that I have not seen on too many other teacher blogs) is the section titled “Ask Me Anything”.  Any person who is logged into Tumblr can ask a question and likely get a response. What a great way to foster communication and feedback. In Will’s case, this is a way for potential “buyers” of his books to contact him and to feel that personal touch that is sometimes lost along the way.

What do you see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal? (i.e., outside bounds of any institution/formal classroom), especially in the context of learning?

As Balsley’s text 10 Good Reasons to Start a Blog states in #2, starting a blog INSPIRES YOU. I believe the role of many self-initiated and informal blogs start off due to an inspiration that a person has. Some people may be inspired to learn more about themselves. If a person is on a weight loss journey, it could be motivating and inspiring for them to create a blog. Blogs could also be created to help map out preparations for a wedding, or an addition to a family. There are many “personal” reasons for ordinary people to be transformed into “bloggers” and I think that the underlying reason is because it will INSPIRE not only the blogger, but other people along the way.

What do you see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?

In the conclusion of Bartholomew’s text, blogging is referred to as a “loving, growing organism.” “It needs to be tended and watched over in the same way someone might a garden.” This made me laugh a little bit, but I believe it to be true. Having a blog that keeps students coming back for more is a very important aspect. If the blog starts to die down, the person in charge (the gardener) needs to give it what it needs to survive.. In a blog’s case, it depends on the group, but that could be new interactions and more STUDENT led projects in some cases.

“Blog participants are self-generating agents. They must choose to visit the blog, they must choose to read and take seriously the thoughts/ideas of others, and they must choose to actively write on the blog in a way that fosters interest.”  Blogs that do not do these things will not survive and will not foster learning.

I also found 2 of the 10 Good Reasons to Start a Blog by Jessica Balsley to be important aspects when considering blog us for learning in a classroom. #3 states that a blog CONNECTS YOU. Not only do blogs connect the teacher to parents and the community, but they can connect students to other students and students to the community. If a blog can achieve this, I believe it can foster learning. The second reason that I’d like to point out is #8 (Makes you feel as though you are not alone). If students and teachers can see a blog as a place to share their successes and trials, they will realize that there is always room for improvement. A blog is a great way to get feedback, and getting feedback helps both students and teachers learn.


In this Podcast, I interviewed Cara Marchione who is a 3rd grade teacher who just earned her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State.

Melissa’s Week 5 Thoughts and Podcast Interview

I do not have much experience using blogs, except reading them and using them for our course so far.  However, I have used discussion boards, especially discussion boards within a learning management system (LMS) such as ANGEL.  As we have discussed blogs and Web 2.0 tools, I have wondered where these closed discussion boards fit.  In the Bartholomew, Jones, and Glassman paper from this week’s reading, I strongly agreed with the statement on p. 21, “Although closed University discussion boards are not blogs in the traditional sense, they do promote commentary within a community of learners similar to that of customary blogs.”  I had been thinking the same thing!  One of the benefits that I see for a discussion forum within a LMS is that there is more privacy as the boards are shared with only those students enrolled in that course.  This is similar to speaking in your class of 20 students as opposed to it being broadcast to anyone who wants to see it across the world.  While students today don’t get as concerned with their privacy, I am of a different generation, and I am concerned with my digital footprint.  Another problem with blog posts that was discussed in the article is how easy it is for posts to get lost as the more recent posts will be the first in the list.  I’m sure there are ways in different blog sites to manage which posts have been read, but I am used to the system in ANGEL that shows me when I enter the course which posts I have not read yet.  ANGEL also has a threaded view that makes reading replies easier than having to click to the original post and then read the replies.

On page 24 of the Bartholomew et al. paper, I was taken by surprise regarding the description of how instructors minimized their own participation on the blogs.  I have learned through prior coursework that instructors should maintain an active presence in online discussion forums to encourage student-instructor interaction.  But it did make sense that students would feel greater ownership with the blog if instructor posting was minimized.  I thought the example on that same page of the instructor picking two of the most interesting posts to discuss was an excellent way to promote models for other students to emulate.  The most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning in these formal environments is to design the assignments so that it is appropriate for the particular learning environment and for the desired learning outcomes.  Not every blog type or structure will work for every situation.

Based on the readings and blog sites I explored, blogs in formal learning environments can allow for sharing of information, reflection, interaction with peers and the instructor, and collaboration.  In the “Voices from Cornell Abroad” blog (http://blogs.cornell.edu/studyabroad/), not only were the students creating a chronicle with different forms of media, they were reflecting on their journey as the semester drew to a close.  I would like to incorporate more reflection pieces in my own coursework because it allows students to think of the conclusion of the course not as an ending but simply part of their lifelong learning.  In the informal blogs that I read, there was the ability to share content such as articles and videos, comment on that content, and reflect on how that content affects one’s own professional practice.  I explored both “The Tempered Radical” (http://blog.williamferriter.com/) and Bryan Alexander’s blog (www.bryanalexander.org).  If I were to create my own blog, #4 from the Balsley reading would be most appropriate:  “holds you accountable”.  That way, if I posted an idea I wanted to try, I would be more willing to follow through because I would know that my blog followers were waiting to hear about how it went!  I may be too chicken to do this, but my goggle calendar helps me with this quite a lot!

For my podcast interview, I interviewed a colleague of mine, Professor Kennie Leet from Broome Community College.  She is the Chairperson of the Physical Sciences Department and teaches Meterology both online and on campus.  I did try to add a little music from Loveshadow to the podcast (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Melissa’s Interview with Prof. Leet