I think back to my education in schools and the thought of computers in the classroom didn’t exist until high school. My seventh grade teacher having an Apple IIe in her office just astounded all of us. I used the actual card catalog to do research until I reached college. Times have changed. The reading and writing that we are asking of our students in today’s classroom needs to change as well.
The increasing presence of things like e-books and blogs has opened a new door for readers and writers. Instead of asking our students to take out their writing journal and reflect on the day’s topic or learning, the students can be instructed to go their blog and post about the topic. The ability of blog writers and readers to interact with one another has started to create a new genre of writing sometimes referred to as “connective writing” (Richardson, 2010, p. 28). The audience has expanded and each person who writes or comments on a blog post is now contributing to the larger body of knowledge that is accessible to the world. While the words in a blog still belong to the writer, any reader has the opportunity to go back and question or clarify the words of the author. The writing is no longer stagnate and can be continued or updated at any time. It becomes difficult to separate online reading from online writing because they are so intertwined with one another (Richardson, 2010).
To Blog or not to Blog…
While blogs have become popular in mainstream social media, what purpose do they or could they serve in the classroom? This is a question I have wrestled with for my classroom. I enjoy conducting online discussion posts with my students, but the idea of posting my students’ thoughts and writings for the world to see caused me to hesitate. The more I research blogs in the classroom, the more I am convinced that there is a true place for them.
As I stated above, blogs have expanded the audience that students can reach with their writing. By providing this authentic writing experience the students are able to see how they can personally make an impact on the greater body of knowledge.
Before using a blog in the classroom it is important to have a clear understanding of what type of blog platform you will use such as Wordpress or Blogger, how you will use the blog for educational purposes, and how you plan to evaluate the students’ blogs. Some basic tips to be considered about how to do these things can be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education's blog post, Integrating, Evaluating, and Managing Blogging in the Classroom. The biggest key for successful blogging in the classroom according to this post is preparation and forethought. If the students have a clear picture of what is expected from the very beginning the process is smoother and the results are more in-depth, thoughtful posts and comments by all involved.
Below is a sample rubric I am going to be integrating in my classroom with my students’ blogging. As I created this rubric, Meg’s Blogagogy steered me in narrowing my focus of precise items I wanted to be evaluating the students on. She gives a great list of specific criteria that can be addressed as you work to assess a student's blog.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oak, California: Corwin.