Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can Blogging Help Kids Learn in the Classroom?

I think that blogging would be extremely helpful for the classroom teacher.  I say this not only as a blogger, but also as a teacher.  I taught public school for three years.  Even though I do not teach in the classroom anymore, I am still thoroughly a teacher in my identity.  I definitely think like a teacher, and I'm likely to become one again (maybe a college professor the next time around.)  I also teach private lessons at a music store.  As a teacher, I have some perspective on what is practical in the classroom.  If a teacher has a computer hooked up to a projector screen, blogging is an option to help engage students in their classroom.

When I was teaching, I knew nothing about blogging.  After I quit teaching, I immediately started a blog (the two had nothing to do with each other, by the way!)  I think blogging would have been a very helpful tool in the classroom for three reasons:

 1. It would help a teacher manage their teaching content in an organized way.
2.  It would help teachers review old material quickly and easily without recreating anything.
3.  It would drive student interest to be engaged with an internet resource.

Here are three types of blogging experiences for classroom teachers.
  1. The Teacher Blog
  2. The Classroom Blog
  3. The Individual Student Blog

Let me explain these three categories in detail.

Teacher Blog 
A teacher could keep a running blog of his/her lessons.  Often a teacher will use PowerPoint for the day.  This isn't bad, BUT think of the advantages of using a blog instead:

  • The students can get an instant, visual reminder of the previous lesson.
  • The teacher gets an INSTANT record of lesson plans.  How cool!
  • The students can go online any time at home and study from their computer.
  • You don't have to create a new document every day.  Some days could be used as review going over old material.  Reviewing for tests would be a breeze.
It would be "epic," as my kids would say.

Of course, students don't need a blog to learn...

Classroom Blog
The whole classroom of kids could have access to a blog.  They would all have the password, and they would all be able to make their own posts.  Let's say that each student was required to write one post, like a paper (academic language would still be expected).  No last names would be used, nor would the name of the school.  No one could link to outside links, so this is a secure environment.

Here are some pros:
  • It would be easy to navigate between each post if each student gave a presentation, for instance.
  • It would be very easy for students to comment on each other's posts.  
  • This would be more fun than writing a paper for the students.
  • During presentations, the teacher wouldn't open 20 power point presentations or websites.  
Here are some cons:
  • The potential abuse is a little higher than if every student had their own website.
  • Students could edit each others posts.  This is a bad thing...but there are probably settings on the blog to help avoid the problem to give students only limited control.
  • Each student may have more ownership over a personal website than with a classroom website.

Individual Student Blog
As an alternative to the classroom blog, each student could have their own blog.  Many assignments could be done through the blog, such as presentations and papers.  The student would really be getting a dose of technology!

Here are some pros:
  • Each student would learn a lot about technology in order to make their website.
  • It would be very easy for students to comment on each other's posts.  
  • This would be more fun than writing a paper for the students.
  • The potential for abuse is lower if the kids do not have admin power over other posts.
Here are some cons:
  • Some students might focus more on design than content.
  • There would have to be more training on the mechanics of blogging. 
  • It would be more difficult for students to comment and interact.
  • Presentation day would take longer because you would have to load each website.
I hope you found these ideas useful!  Make sure, should you ever use any of these ideas, that you check out some other resources on blogging in the classroom:

A List of 50 Blogging Resources for the Classroom Teacher:

Copyright Considerations for Teachers (who are notorious for breaking copyright laws)

A nice article on Internet Safety for the Blogging Classroom:

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