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Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

School was officially out as of last Friday, but for a few lucky students and myself, we have another three weeks of fun filled English class. Summer school has begun. Our summer school English class is four hours every afternoon for the next three weeks. One way that we are filling this time is writing on blogs.

For several years, I have read about students blogging. In the past, I have had a few smaller classes write their own blogs, but this is the first time I have ever had every student in a decent sized class write their own blog. So far, it seems to be working pretty well.

The students are using Blogger as a platform, mainly because each of them have a Google account that is accessed through the school’s domain. I have not used Blogger much, but the students have been writing for several day without any major technical issues.

To get content, each student has also set up a Google Reader. As a class, before any blogs are written, students spend about 20 minutes reading new posts via the Reader. This has worked quite well in giving the students something to write about.

Granted, the project is just getting under way, but for now, I am impressed with the work from students. They are reading original content that is fresh and updated daily. Just the fact that some of these students are reading is a huge milestone! In turn, they are adding their own perspective on a topic they are passionate about. We also spend time during class focusing on different reading and writing skills that are applied throughout the activity.

The only problem with doing something like this that works so good is figuring out how to run it successfully with a full schedule of classes in the fall. I’ll probably be thinking about it for the rest of the summer.

To check out what the students are writing, check out MVHS Summer English Blogs.

 

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As a part of a 7th grade Current Issues class, my students watch CNN Student news a couple times a week. Usually, once a week, students have an opportunity to write on the A-Z Blog to give their opinion about a current news story. Generally the students enjoy the activity. This is in large part due to the fact that they see their comments cue up alongside comments from students all over the country. They can even reply to other comments and begin conversations with other students.

Occasionally, Carl Azuz, the anchor for the show, will select a few of the comments to read during the news show. My students sit and watch anxiously every week hoping that a comment from the class will be read. I have explained several times that over 500 students usually comment on the blog, so the chances of having a comment read are slim.

This week it finally happened. One of the comments written from a student in our class was read on the show, and the student loved it.

Why am I telling you about this? I don’t really care if students are writing on a highly publicized blog like CNN or a classroom blog. Students need to know that what they write is public. They need to know that through different mediums on the internet, they have a voice in a global conversation. The problem is that a great number of teachers are still having their student write a paper or do an assignment that never goes further than the teacher’s desk. They have no audience, so there is not a whole lot of motivation to do a good job or in many cases, even complete the work.

This small incident definitely opened the eyes of my students. I am guessing  that the next time we write on the A-Z blog, they will all work that much harder knowing that their voice does matter and can be heard by global audience. They have now seen how it works with their own eyes.

Find a way to give students a voice. Whether it is writing a paper, participating on a blog, or publishing a cartoon, help students understand that their work does matter. With the web, their work is not just for the teacher anymore. There are others out there who will appreciate what they have to say.

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There are lots of uses for blogs in the classroom. They are a great way to give students assignments, to show off student work, and to engage students in meaningful conversations that extend beyond the classroom. I have used my classroom blogs for all of these reasons. However, the way I use my class blog the most is as a place to post links that I want students to use in class.

If you have ever tried to write a 70 letter dash number dash symbol URL on the board for students to copy down and type into their browser, you will know that it ends up taking a half hour of class to get all the students to the same site. On top of the time, there is also the stress and headache for the teacher. I am convinced that having students try to find a website using a URL that is written on the board may be one of the leading causes of teachers ditching technology and going back tot the text book! This is where the classroom blog comes in handy.

Initially, students may need help finding the classroom blog, but they will get it quickly. Then, it’s just a matter of posting the links to all the cool sites and apps you want them to use. They only have to remember the one URL, and from there it’s all smooth sailing!

 

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