Tuesday, February 15, 2011

About blogging

Since I am actually using a blog, I decided that it would be interesting to talk about blogging here on the actual blog. I was already a fan of using blogs in educational setting before taking this class, and am learning even more ways in which it can be useful in the classroom, which is great. I think a big part of the reason for why I like blogs is that I like using journal writing to help get students writing in a way that is more open so they can approach it in ways that work for them. I feel that blogging takes journal writing to the next level because it allows interactions between students, and provides a place for students to experience how people can have very different writing styles. Richardson talks about how blogs "ask readers to think and to respond. They demand interaction" (Richardson, 2010, p.18). Having that interaction is so important for kids, socialization and interaction with others is exactly what kids want. Especially as they reach middle and high school, most students their main joy in school is getting to see their friends. Blogging highlights that, and with guidance from a teacher can be used to really engage students in learning. In addition blogging can allow students to learn from a greater pool of knowledge than is available within each school, because it is online and can be accessed by so many people from around the world. Blogging, especially if teachers can connect students with other students and teachers from around the globe can really expand the scope of what students are learning. Also it can be a great way for students who are usually quiet to have their voices heard without the pressure of speaking in front of the classroom. Like any form of writing, blogging can also help students think through what they are learning, and the added bonus of blogging is that then students get feedback from others about their thoughts which furthers the learning/thinking process even further.

In my own personal experience with blogging I found it to be a great tool. I went to South Africa over the summer and part of the program requirements was that we all had to keep up a blog during our time in South Africa. The topics of the blogs were left up to us, we could talk about anything we wanted really in terms of our trip. We could talk about the schools we visited, the kids we saw, the teachers we met; we could talk about the hotels we stayed at the food we ate, the things we bought, the museums and other attractions we visited, and we did. I found for me that sitting down at the end of the day to blog about what had happened that day was a great way for me to digest all that I was learning and experiencing. On the one hand it was great to be able to think through the experiences, particularly after discussions we had about race and education in South Africa, and yet at the same time let my family back home know how i was and what I was doing. So it served double for me, an educational/emotional outlet for the trip and a way to stay in communication with all my family and friends back home without having to take time to email everyone separately telling about the same things. In that blog I was also able to upload photos of what I was doing which was really nice to give it a visual component to further show what I was learning.

The only difficult aspect of blogging in my mind is assessment. We live and teach in a world where assessment is huge, and we need to have proof that students are learning and mastering whatever we are teaching at that moment. If I am allowing my students to blog in a way similar to what I did, I might find that hard to assess, because every student would come at it in a different way so how would I be able to assess if they are all learning. But I still feel that blogging is very important and useful. Maybe teachers could have different assignments at different times, some would be more strictly assessed while others were more to just practice and show thinking.