Saturday, June 2, 2012

Using a Blog as a Classroom Teaching Tool

Look at the layout of this blog. (If you're receiving this as an email, click on the title to go to the actual blog site.)

It's got a header or masthead. It's got static pages and the tab link buttons to access them. It's got the active, changing (home) blog page. Archives and labels are available on the sidebar.

It seems that such a site should be useful in teaching a class, especially if the teacher has access to a smartboard or data projector so that it can be used with actual daily teaching. I've been experimenting with using a blog in teaching for the last couple of years, using closed blogs (blogs accessible only to invited individuals).

Things I plan to use next school year:
  • Have the main page a static page, providing an overview and links.
  • Provide static pages for each of the eras taught. These static pages will provide main points for the era unit, links to teaching pages, and ancillary materials.
  • Teaching pages and ancillary materials will be posted as daily blog pages. Links on an era's static page will make posts more easily accessible in future years of teaching.
  • With 20 static pages and with the blog posts, student writing will be able to be posted.
  • My YouTube channel will be integrated into the site with links to appropriate videos on eras, authors, and particular works.
  • Using blog comments for student homework
  • Using Goodreads (especially reviews) as another site to provide interactive authenticity for students.
  • Finding ways for students to become active on the site by using student websites.
  • Connecting to Common Core standards and anchor models.
  • The blog will be an open site, available to all.
Things that did not work last year:
  • Posts were hard to access when just posted as a daily blog article. A year later, I'd have to search to find them. This should be solved by having a static page for each era, and the teaching blog posts added and linked on this page. 
  • Posts became too long and cumbersome because of embedded videos. I liked embedding videos on the actual blog post, but they took quite a bit of time to load and provided a lengthy post. This might be solved by adding videos to folders on my YouTube channel and then adding links to those videos to the teaching blog posts. 
  • Student work, such as slide shows, can be linked via Google Documents. This way, the best of student work as models can be available but not necessarily added to the teaching page.
As a last note, the blog can be a great site for distance learning. Take those words "distance learning" and think about daily teaching. For students who are absent, the blog can provide access for them. They may be able to get most of the day's lesson, even though home in bed!

I'm excited about the possibilities.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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