Sunday, October 26, 2008

TO BLOG or NOT to BLOG....

The real value of blogs and wikis is not the tool itself...It's what the tool enables. George Siemens

Perhaps one of the most fascinating tools that has emerged from the Internet cloud in recent years is the Blog (a shortening of the term Weblog). A Blog is an online publishing tool that enables people to easily publish their loves, opinions, passions, dislikes, peeves, discoveries, and insights. Thousands of teachers have discovered the value of classroom blogging, both as an avenue for their communications, but also as a tool for giving voice to what their students are learning and how they are learning (David Warlick). A voice...a global voice...

Blogs have become a highly effective way to help students to become better writers. Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet (2007, E-Learning).

"Through the use of our Weblog we've been able to build a relationship, engage in reflective practice, have interactive opportunities that develop and broaden our knowledge base, and document evidence of growth and refinement in the practice—5th Grade Teacher"
So, what kind of blog can you create? What can your students share? What are they thinking?

Create a blog to communicate class/school information with parents. Post field trip information, field trip forms, parent helper calendars, general classroom guidelines and more.
Create a blog with daily lessons listed for students who are sick or gone. Each day, try to designate a classroom "scribe" who is responsible for posting lessons/materials covered.For really young students - perhaps students just learning to write - use a blog to showcase individual art projects throughout the year. Use a digital camera and scanner to put creative endeavors up for display around each holiday.

Create a blog which provides additional, age-appropriate material on thematic units you study throughout the year. Link to supplemental videos, podcasts and websites to encourage extended learning.

Create a blog where students record narrations of their favorite stories (use the free software Audacity to create sound files). Students can read published work or their own work. Accompany it with scanned illustrations they have drawn.

Create a blog where students list class hypotheses before each class science experiment. When experiment is done, results can be posted and compared to initial hypotheses.

Create a blog where students share stories about their favorite holiday, or a blog about special holiday traditions in their family.

Create a blog which lists creative writing prompts or striking visual images. Encourage students to post after self-selecting a prompt/picture. Let this evolve so that students begin writing the prompts for other students.

Create a blog that has children reviewing children's books.

Create a blog where every member of the class posts about a favorite vacation. Embed maps, use Google Earth or even create a "collaborative google map" where everyone "pins" their favorite vacations on one map (love this!)

Create a blog where you list various statements that are facts and others that are opinion. Students can leave comments explaining why each is either a fact or opinion.

Create a blog where students post most memorable learning moments on a recent field trip. Could also do a Know - Want to Know - Learned (KWL) activity on the blog.

Create a blog where students describe a typical day at school. Invite other same aged students from different global locations to contribute the same type of information on the same blog. Let students ask questions and leave comments to gain cultural awareness. Students can then begin to share/compare thematic units being learned, novels being read, field trips being taken, etc. You can also use epals/skype for this as well.

Create a professional reflection blog on lessons that you teach. Analyze strategies and techniques that work well or don't work so well. Research and link to alternative ways to approach the lesson next time.
Create a blog where students create a timelines perhaps for events in a novel or story, or for historical events being studied. Could also be used to predict the future!

Create a blog where students collect data on science experiments. Use blog to display information gathered from Google spreadsheets. Students can create/embed graphs and charts explaining relationships of data.

Create a blog that showcases student poetry, short stories, etc.

Create a blog where students post about math concepts learned throughout the year. Blog can provide examples and solutions of math problems and concepts being studied.

Create a blog where students digitally record steps to solving various math problems (can use digital camcorder, record from digital whiteboard applications or use screencasts programs to capture procedures/steps) - MATHCASTS

The real value of blogs and wikis is not the tool itself. It’s what the tool enables
George Siemens

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