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.