Read, Write and Blog
Susim Munshi, Susan Switzer
Most students use the internet typically for entertainment and not for education. They email, instant message, download songs etc. In schools, the internet is used mostly for locating pictures and some research. Blogs allow reading and writing to become public and give the students a wider audience – the whole world.
Using blogs in school can be a powerful motivator for students. Literacy is the focus, not the blog itself. However, if blogs are going to work in your school, there must be tailored teacher professional development. Teachers need easy to use tools to get their students online. At the Learn2Blog website, all the PD tools are available, including today's presentation, background of blogging, activities etc. An example of an activity is a character journal. Students write, but can also upload pictures and connect links. What is the difference between blog and discussion board? On a blog you can upload pictures, video etc. In a discussion board, mostly text is allowed.
In the Chicago area, there are about 15 schools using blogs within the language arts program. They are moving from traditional journalling in notebooks, which tend to be private and only shared between teacher and student, to blogs, which allow many people to read and comment on the content. One teacher is using blogs over the summer as a way to guide and encourage students to read and write over the summer. He told the students that he would give them credit for summer work.
The blog discussed in this workshop was hosted by Weblogger.com, which was donated to the Chicago Public School System, along with the technical support. When a student logs in, they view the homepage with the teacher's name and then click on a teacher and the messages from him/her. Most teachers post prompts, links to read and directions of what to do. The student then responds. There is a inclination to want to fix the GUM errors, but the presenters suggested that blogs are not final drafts, but rather a historical record of progress.
Assessment is built in. The postings are time and date stamped. The artifacts support the frequency of communication. There can be a variety of activities and topics. There is a rubric for content available on the Learn2Web site.
If you are interested in beginning to blog, it is important to do some research. How do blogs work? Have a clear purpose for the blog. What is the purpose of the blog? What should students be able to do? Create guidelines and policies. A blog is a very public forum. Language and tone must be discussed. Finally, choose the right tool for the purpose.
To start your own blog, you will generally need an email. Try participating in a swchool's blog. Free blogs are good, but they do come with advertising. Subscription blog sites may cost, but don't have advertising links.