Monday, February 8, 2010

Blogs in the Classroom: using old techniques with new technology

My teaching is evolving with very little effort on my part. What am I doing? Listening and getting to know my students, that's what.

As my students continue to interact with the world of technology, they naturally want to connect that world to their lives at school.

One student has begun a blog, and he intends to publish his class writing assignments on his blog. It will become, over time, a combination of writing portfolio and biographical journal. Students will be able to see how they have grown in both their writing and also in their consciousness and maturity.

Here is a link to the blog of one of my 7th grade students. In the blog is a writing assignment called "Homework Excuse."

The technique of creating a place for students to store and share their work is not new. The idea of writing portfolios has been around a long time. The new twist is the use of technology, allowing students to reach a greater audience and to bump into the "authentic" evaluation of a real readership--even if it is mostly a potential one. I used to bring manila folder portfolios to teacher/parent conferences so that parents could see their children's work. Now parents can see that work as it is posted and comment on it, too.

There is an old axiom (well, not so old--around since the advent of personal computers, anyway): if you don't know how to do something on the computer, ask for help from someone younger than yourself. There is a lot of truth in this, although I have also noticed that I have to be cautious: my young advisor may know how to do 95% of the necessary task! That last five percent can be a deal breaker!

Here is another 7th grade student's blog: flash.

This student is playing with technology beyond me, but it would be interesting for me to interact with his skills. Perhaps I can help him create a blog that allows him to better communicate his expertise. (And perhaps he can help me create a better blog and increase my knowledge of technology.)

My next step is to begin discussing with students and parents the possibility of creating more student blogs and having students post their work. I could tell from the comments of some of my students that they are interested--and even a little miffed that I haven't set this up yet!

I'd better get to teaching--if I can keep up with my students.

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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