Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Building positive digital legacies with student blogs, App #4

Yes, blogs. Now that we understand the need to not only NOT shy away from emerging technologies and social spaces, but to dive in with a positive approach, we can look at how to incorporate student blogs into the classroom effectively. Students need to write and students need to build positive footprints, so why not merge the two?

In order for students to use blogs effectively, their teachers must first experiment with professional blogs of their own. Blogs, like other online presences are permanent records. However, if done so in a positive light, blogs can be a record of an individual's writing that stay with them. Blogs also produce a larger audience than a standard paper essay and classroom discussion; they have the ability to reach tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of people. For instance, look at the recent Bully the Movie that has spawned ratings wars because a 17-year old girl decided to use her online presence for a positive change. Like Katy, students can use social media and blogs to evoke change for a greater good. However, online tools like blogs and social media must not be shunned. Rather, they should be taught within schools. Students and teachers must become literate in the technology that has the ability to provoke massive change.

So, take a look at some tips for using blogs effectively:

Blogging sites:
Blogging in the classroom tutorials:
  • Richard Byrne's section on blogs and Websites contains tutorials on Blogger, Edublogs, Posterous, Wordpress, and other Website creators:
  • Teaching History with Technology has a great page on the appropriate uses of blogs in the classroom--both for research and creation:
    • Excerpt of 10 things to do with blogs:
      • Ten Things to Do With Your Blogs:

      • Post a homework question
        • Each student writes a one paragraph response
        • Read a few before class to see what your students think about the reading
      • Invite outsiders to comment on student work
        • If you know the author of a book you are reading, have students write beedback and invite the author to read the blog post, comment and respond
      • Have students from another classroom or school comment on your student's work
      • Have students post discussion questions for tomorrow's class
        • This is great when you know you won't have time to plan
        • If you know that you've flubbed a class and students are confused, have them post questions about things they don't understand
      • Have students post drafts for peer editing
        • While email is probably better for 1-1 peer editing, blogs are a great opportunity for multiple people to comment on a single piece of work
      • Post your lecture notes or a summary of the day's class
        • You can make one student per day responsible for posting the class notes. Either by type them as a comment or by taking a picture of their notebook or dry erase board.
        • The rotating student option is great for classes where you want students to focus on the discussion and not hav to worry about taking notes.
      • Post the daily homework assignment
        • Embed or link to any images, video or assignments you used that day in class.
        • This is a great option to enhance communication between school and parents.
      • Post links to supplementary materials from the internet
        • Author bios or websites
        • Links to book reviews
        • Links to relevant news articles
      • Create new blogs for team projects
        • Students can post their work to the blog so that others can see what they are doing. They can also comment on each other's work.
        • If faculty are trying to work as a team or core group, use a blog to communicate with each other about lessons, etc.
      • For an independent study, have students create their own blog
        • Have students post an outline of their week's work before the regularly scheduled weekly meeting.
      • Have students role play on their blog
        • For example, when studying the American Revolution, have some students blog about the revolution as Colonists, others as Loyalist or British. Then have students read each other's blogs and leave comments based on their role playing perspective.
  • Ashley Sikayun Slideshare on how to effectively use blogs in the classroom:

Blogging is just one way to create a positive digital footprint in the classroom. Stay tuned for other ways to effectively build an online presence while in the classroom.

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