I've seen many an eye roll at me when I talk about my blog. Many people still have this idea that blogs are for celebrity gossip and angst filled teens. Blogging is used for those things, but they can play an important role in the classroom as well. I've decided to create a Blogger's Cafe in my room to encourage student blogging and opening up my class to the world.
|The Stage in my Classroom|
The Blogger's Cafe will be important and students work with other students from Van Meter, Iowa. Students will be working on various units with other students from Van Meter and will need a space to work on different parts of various projects. Student blogs will be used to explore different ideas and reflect on experiences. It will be an avenue that will allow all students to freely participate, instead of the select few that love to raise their hand in class.
Another reason I want my students to blog on a more regular basis is because it will help them become better readers and writers. I had my students answer discussion questions last year using Turnitin.com. At the end of the year, I realized that I had my students write the equivalent of 3 extra essays. I could tell by the end of the year, their writing was sharper and their though process stronger. Just writing essays might not be the only way to strengthen writing skills. Blogging allows for students to freely express their thoughts on topics without being stuck following a strict essay format. That ability to let ideas flow will help students as thinkers, not just writers. Literacy is no longer just reading and writing. Computer Literacy needs to be considered as these students move on to college or the job market. The more experience students have with computers and web tools, they better prepared they will be for college.
My big goal for the year is to have many other students, in many different content areas, in many different building, start to blog and have their students blog. I want to create a Blogging Community in the district that will allow students to read and comment on various types of blogs. I have a Math and Science teacher ready to blog in their class and I don't want to see it stop there. I want to assign their blogs as reading in my class. This will allow reading and writing to finally be spread out across the curriculum. By having students engage in reading and commenting on other content blogs, they will be reading and learning about new ideas.I would love to see 8th graders reading and commenting on 9th grade blog posts. Freshmen engaging in discussions with AP students on different topics in Biology or History. The potential is truly limitless if a Blogging Community is created. As this idea grows, discussions can begin with other schools in other districts. Eduction should not happen behind four walls alone. Blogging knocks down those walls and opens the world to our students. Before we see the world, we need to create the right environment in the district.
This is a big goal and I don't expect it to happen over night. I do know that I teach with some of the best teachers in the world and they are dedicated to using the best methods available to prepare our students for the tests they will take in the future and college down the road. Now is not the time to be scared to try something new in the classroom. We have a chance to do something different that will help all of our students. If you think that more reading and writing will help the students in your class, please send me an email and together we can set up a class blog.
I think this is a great idea to try and set up in your school district if you have the means. If different districts can set this up, then we can all work together to create a large community for our students to work and learn in. I think this is possible if we all work together. I've been lucky to pair up with Van Meter and can't wait to see where it goes. Let me know if you are going to try and bring this to your district.