Having had the past two days off from school thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I “discovered” time to do some research on student blogging. I was reading the help pages of edublogs.com, an affiliate of WordPress, which hosts this blog, when the power cut out at my house.
I then was granted about twelve hours of time with my family, without the distraction of electricity.
My kids are young, in kindergarten and pre-school, and so, while I’m not in the same place as many of my readers who are parents of current high school students, I want to keep them safe above all. I understand how creepy the internet can be and that there are people out using the internet for uses other than education. But I also understand that technology is already a part of their lives and I want to carefully monitor their use of it and keep it educational more than for entertainment. One day, I will surrender to the idea that they will, alas, use it to socialize as well.
As a teacher, I have plenty of evidence that my students use the technology with which their parents entrust them for positive, educational purposes. I get many emails, tweets, and direct messages on Edmodo each day and evening from my students asking for clarification or for help. They use it often to collaborate with their peers on homework, projects, and other school-related activities.
As a blogger, I can tell you that having an instant audience to my writing, forces me to choose my words and my topics with care. I have learned this lesson the hard way over the past two weeks as I have posted before being completely satisfied with my content. I haven’t figured out how to save my post as a draft, especially when using the WP app on my iPhone. That explains why my followers on Twitter and LinkedIn have had to tolerate multiple broadcasts for publication of single posts. Every time you edit a post, you have to publish it anew, which sends out an automatic blast to your followers. However, on the positive side, publishing a weekly blog has been exciting and rewarding, while it has made me feel even more invested in what I do in the classroom.
So, I want my students to blog to develop the skills of:
1. writing to a world-wide audience
2. organizing thoughts through writing for a purpose
3. engaging in discussions with teachers and students all over the world
4. collaborating with classmates in the production of high quality content
5. formulating, expressing & owning personal viewpoints
6. being an active participant in learning
As far as getting started, my approach is cautious and measured. I have read our schools acceptable use policy and am aware that parents can opt out if they don’t want their student to blog. I also am going to review the guidelines with my students, so they can act in accordance with the policy, especially around guideline #3 (prohibiting the revealing of personal information).
I will begin with creating a class blog for my Modern Global classes, as we being our Term 1 Project dealing with the essential question:
Once you are informed of a violation of basic human rights, how do you, as a global citizen, carry out your responsibility?
I will get students signed up for free accounts and have them work in groups to create pages for that blog. The web address for that site is: modernglobalcommunities.edublogs.org.
As for my Juniors, I will begin in the next term with “microblogging” and will work to build their facility using Twitter as an educational tool.
If you would like to do more reading about student blogging, here’s a link to Larry Ferlazzo’s Website of the Day.., which is one of my go to sources for help in all things edtech. If you like it, please leave him a comment!
And as always, I appreciate your supportive comments and I welcome any feedback you might have to offer!