September 23, 2011 in Featured
There are many benefits to be found in using blogging as an educational tool. Analysis, synthesis, originality, flexibility, fluency, intellectual risk taking, motivation, and persistance are all valuable 21st century skills that can be enhanced through blogging. Blogging can be used with students in a variety of ways to help develop these skills.
- Give students a writing prompt that is open-ended. This could be done as an in-class oral discussion, but the beauty of the blog is that students can take their time to think about and construct their responses more thoroughly and thoughtfully. Giving students ample “wait time” is crucial to achieving higher-order thinking (analysis/synthesis), but can sometimes be impractical in the classroom setting. This type of blogging also allows students to hear the ideas of their peers, and to respond to their peers through commenting. This can help students to develop flexibility (thinking about problems in new ways) and fluency (finding many solutions).
- Ask students to reflect on their learning. Metacognition is a valuable practice that should extend beyond the classroom. It enables students to make connections to prior learning, make cross-curricular connections, monitor growth and development, address areas of weakness, set future learning goals, and more. Personal reflection is an important skill to develop for life-long learners. Furthermore, it helps meet the need for affective learning experiences. (See my Discrete Math Class Blog for examples of students blogging for self-reflection).
- Have students generate their own post topics. This type of activity can help to develop originality as well as intellectual risk taking. Students can pose questions, exploring their curiosity about a topic, or they can simply share their opinions and/or experiences.
Because students are writing for an authentic audience (classroom peers, professionals in related career fields, or even a global audience), there is built-in motivation involved. Another great quality of a blog is that the learning experience doesn’t necessarily end with the act of posting. Ideas and comments can continue to be shared over time. Thoughts can continue to evolve. This encourages persistence in addressing problems.
I have used blogs with my students for a number of years, but until recently, I have never opened up comments to the general public. Only registered users (classmates) have been allowed to post comments, although the content of the blogs has been open to public viewing. Site statistics for our class blog reveal that we have received visitors from all over the world (every continent except Antarctica!). It will be interesting to see what thoughts other students/teachers/math enthusiasts have to share about our blog. Of course, this will require more careful monitoring of comments on my part, but I think it will be a worthwhile endeavor.
Will Richardson, in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, writes:
“It’s well and good to encourage and teach our students to blog, but they will surely give it up at the end of the semester unless we’ve shown them why it’s important to keep writing and to keep learning.”
This is something I don’t think I have explicitly addressed with my students, and could do a better job communicating the benefits of blogging to them. Furthermore, Richardson states that teachers who use blogging with their students should have experience blogging themselves. I have never maintained a blog of my own, and agree that it would be a valauble experience to do so. The thought is a bit intimidating. Will anyone else be interested in hearing what I have to say? Will I be able to handle criticism if someone posts negative comments? Will I be able to keep up with it? Despite my personal fears, I’m looking forward to finally trying it!
- Blogging on the Rise (madworldwriters.wordpress.com)
- Blogging: 6 Reasons It’s Not Just for Adults (azjd.wordpress.com)
- Imagining a Cutting Edge Online College Course for Blog Writing (successful-blog.com)
- Balancing Technology and Pedagogy (azjd.wordpress.com)
- Three Purposes for Classroom Blogs (freetech4teachers.com)