1. Each teacher at our school has the space on our school webpage to have a class webpage and when this was created, each teacher also was given a blog page to link to their class webpage. The nature of this blog is to simply post information for the public/students to learn about what is going on in the classroom. The only people that are able to comment on this are those who have access to edit the school website. This is simple blogging. However, from here, teachers may branch out to include students in blogging by introducing them to sites such as class blogmeister.com, blogspot.com, or edublog (other blogs could be used as well).
2. You can start small and expand your blog as your comfort level grows. Teachers may use a blog as a posting of informational items to begin and then expand it to collaborate with peers, have students respond to blogs, have students create and post blogs, etc. The possibilities are nearly endless but it doesn’t have to be too complex in order to achieve the purpose that the teacher sets out.
3. Access. Teachers can access their school blog from anywhere they have internet access. This goes without saying that this is truly one of the great benefits of web 2.0 tools. It really is anytime, anywhere learning for anyone who is involved in the blog, from publisher, to reader to commenter. From a parent perspective, it is great to be able to check out what students are doing at any given time. Depending on how the blog is being used, a parent (or anyone if the settings are set up to allow) can easily visit the class webpage and see student work, teacher informational postings, etc. As well, students are able to access this from home as well, so they can check on assignment due dates, events, offer comments on other student blogs, offer peer editing advice, etc.
4. Student learning benefits of blogging. There is something to be said about having your work published so it is accessible on the internet for the teacher, peers, classmates, family, or the entire world (depending on the settings the publisher chooses). Often, students take more pride and ownership in their work if they know that their audience is more than just their teacher. Teaching with Web 2.0 “Writing can be transformed from a one-on-one communication between teacher and student. With the use of a school-centered blog students can also receive advice and corrections from their peers.....Both blogs and wikis promote peer editing. This gets students more involved in the writing process, thus strengthening writing, editing and communication skills.”
5. Student engagement. Technology in general provides a tremendous hook for many students. The school I teach at is in the core of Regina and many students do not have exposure to technology at home as many others may in better socio-economic communities. I have worked to a great degree with classes integrating technology into the curriculum and just as much research states, student engagement greatly increases and classroom management issues decrease when students are working with technology. Using Technology to Enhance Engaged Learning for At-Risk Students by Barbara Means states that “New technologies can provide meaningful learning experiences for all children”. The last course I took I did an action plan/proposal for a 1 to 1 Laptop Program for our school. In my research, I found the studies overwhelmingly stating that student engagement greatly increases when students are given technological tools to assist in learning. The inquiry method fits so well with technology and blogging is just one avenue students and teachers can explore with technology.
I am sure that I have have just touched the tip of the blog iceberg, however in my school environment where I have a limited amount of technologically literate teachers (and students to a certain degree), I feel that blogging would be a good starting point for many teachers.
The Greater Plan
I’ve already started this with our staff by offering “lunch & learn” technology sessions. We began with having teachers become more acquainted with the school website. 2 sessions have been offered for teachers where we learned some of the basics of setting up a class webpage and setting up a blog page linked to their webpages. I was really surprised with the number of teachers who turned out to learn about this wonderful tool. This has provided a great springboard for teachers to make information more accessible and learn together in a non-threatening environment (Oh, and it also helped that we fed them too!). From there we have explored iBooks and how we can use these in our classes and have students create and publish their learning. They have really loved this and it has become a great link with our school literacy goal.
I’d like to continue to introduce different technological tools with teachers through these lunch and learn sessions and I feel pretty good about teachers being receptive to the opportunity to learn more and collaborate with myself on a regular and ongoing basis. I was really impressed with the ease of VoiceThread, so perhaps I’ll explore this next with students and teachers. I’ll leave that one for a little while though as I don’t want to overwhelm teachers, especially when they may not be too tech savvy.
Here’s for the future of 2.0 in my world!