This was created for an assignment in BSU’s EDTECH597 course, but could be used in the future to support teachers that would like to blog in their classrooms.
What is a Blog?
Google defines a blog as “a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.” I would also add that a blog is a writing tool, a reflective exercise, and a portfolio for student work.
Mrs. Meinert’s class will use the blogging tool called Blogger (http://goo.gl/fOChk). There are many advantages for using this platform. The first being that our students will be able to use their school provided email and Google App accounts. This will allow the district to have more oversight and control over student accounts.
Blogger is also similar to the Google Docs layout and formatting that many of our students are already familiar with or will be in the future. This will cut down on the amount of time teaching how to use the tool, thus being able to use it immediately for academic purposes. Blogger is run by Google, which allows it to have consistent updates that improve the service.
Blogger is frequently referred to as the easiest blogging platform to use. If a student can send an email or use Google Docs they will feel right at home using the Blogger platform.
Royal Pingdom tested five blogs for reliability and ranked Blogger as having the least amount of down time.
Mrs. Meinert’s students will have proper parent permission before accessing the Internet and setting up their blogs. The first year students will have private blogs. This means they will need to invite each viewer to their blog via an email. This will give students the ability to have an active blog, but will also insulate them from potential dangers. Since the students are using the school district’s domain for Blogger and Google Apps a teacher or tech staff member can check the viewers of a student’s blog at anytime. If you would like to learn more about this process please visit the following links: http://goo.gl/7jvoR or http://goo.gl/xHCeG
Students will be blogging under their own names because one of the strengths of the blogging platform is the built in authenticity and accountability for bloggers. When students understand their content is going out to an audience beyond the scope of their teachers it encourages them to critically think about their content and make edits to improve their writings. With this said they will still need to follow the district rules outlined in the Acceptable User Policy that discusses misusing school equipment, software (blogs, email, etc), and the network. Consequences for misuse are detailed in the document, and will be enforced in a consistent manner.
Mrs. Meinert plans to focus on digital citizenship skills as part of the ongoing use of student blogs. This will teach the students how to be responsible and safe when using the Internet and networking tools. An added benefit of students creating blogs when entering high school is beginning a positive web presence or brand that can be used in the future to assist with entrance to colleges or the workforce.
In future years when students understand the implications, both positive and negative, of their blogs the AEBSD will consider encouraging students to make their blogs public. This will allow anyone to read the content students post to his or her blog. With an increased readership come new challenges of interacting with the readers via responding to comments on the blog. More information will be available to the board at this stage of the deployment.
Use of Blogs
Mrs. Meinert will use student blogs in the following ways:
- Writing Prompts: Short blog entries will be required as bell ringer activities. Students will complete these short prompts at least once a week.
- Free Writes: Students will be required to write a weekly blog entry around a topic or theme they have chosen at the beginning of the quarter. Students can only change their theme with instructor approval. The free writes will range from 200-800 words.
- Reflection: A powerful use of blogs is allowing students to reflect on their learning. This can be done at the end of a class, lesson, or unit. A minimum of 8 reflective entries will be required per student per semester.
- Portfolio: Students will begin using their blogs to collect and showcase the work they are completing in high school. This can be helpful when applying to colleges as it shows a more detailed view of a student’s ability than letter grades.
At this point some of you might be thinking well what you have said is all well and good but can’t this be accomplished offline? The answer to this is yes, but blogs have advantages.
- Authentic Writing: Blogs provide students with authentic writing experiences. Once leaving school our students’ writings are going to be read, critiqued, and analyzed by bosses, colleagues, and clients, not just one teacher. Schools should be preparing students to write for a wider audience.
- Digital Contributor: The Internet is no longer a place that users just consume. We must teach our students to be responsible and worthwhile contributors on the web. When our students’ names are Googled we want their school blog to come up rather than some embarrassing moments on Facebook or other social networking sites.
- Global Workforce: Blogs can help students understand the future. Isn’t the objective of schools to prepare students to succeed once leaving our ivory towers? If so then they need to understand and feel comfortable working and collaborating with a global community.