Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blogging in the Classroom!

I knew very little about the world of blogging before taking my technology course for my master's program. I have seen them and written a response here and there but was never sure of how I could use "blogging" with my students. As I learn more about the world of blogging I am very excited to incorporate this style of learning with my students in September.
I currently teach history to 9th and 10th grade ESL at Newark Tech High School. Luckily I teach the same group of students for two years in a row, this allows me to know my students well enough to get busy creating a blog over the summer they will enjoy and benefit from. I have spent sometime brainstorming with some of colleagues on creating a blog(s). We all decided that a blog would give our students the opportunity to interact with one another in a new way as well as give them the opportunity to share ideas with students in other grade levels. Using a blog as a teaching tool will help students read, think, and write more critically. Critical thinking skills are lacking for the students in our school, this would be a new and more interesting way for them to improve their thinking skills. One of the best ways to do this is to assign an id number or tag name for each student to encourage them to speak openly and honestly in their post to one of the teachers or students. Creating a blog for my students may also reach those shy students who like to hide in the back of the classroom hoping I won't notice they are there! What do you all think about blogging? Do we blog or stick to the good old fashion round table discussions in the classroom?


  1. I think blogs are definitely a great way to get shy kids interacting. Round table discussions tend to keep the same kids talking. This might be a way to foster discussions that include everyone. The only challenge I would forsee is the same one I face myself, you have a lot of students and keeping track of whose commented or posted versus who has not may become overwhelming. Any ideas for this?

  2. Aundrea,

    A good idea might be to give students guidelines or some sort of timeline similar to what we do for our Walden classes. All students will be repsonsible for posting by a certain day and must comment to at least 3 other classmates by a certain date. I'm sure we will still get those who will have some excuse as to why they didn't follow instructions but its a start-right? Another idea might be to alternate the days or week each class posts to the blog if you have many students. In that sense I'm pretty lucky since I teach the ELL population which is quite small, I currently teach six 40minute periods and have a total of 77 students compared to some of my colleagues who have 120 or more.

  3. I think blogs are a great idea to use in your classroom. Try They offer free blogs for your classroom, don't require email addresses for accounts, let you assign usernames and passwords, and allow different levels of security.

    I can share with you some issues I have had in blogging. First of all, despite the majority of my students having technical knowledge, many had never created or posted to blogs (I teach 8th grade). I did have to walk them through the process. Secondly, I found the majority of comment to student posting to be simple greetings. It really took some time and practice for students to publish substantial questions or comments.

    Overall the experience was great and I will do it again next year. Good luck with your classroom blog.

    Dan Lollis

  4. Dan,

    I will definitely look into the for my blog in September. I agree that even though students have technical knowledge it doesn't mean they know how to make a blog or what it means to respond to comments. I will make sure to take the time to show them how and what to do. I teach 9th and 10th grade and even they will need practice. I can't wait to get blogging in September.

  5. One of the things that I keep thinking about with using blogs for ELL students is the ability for them to connect within "their" own comfort zone of the language. It would seem that if your students were expected (and required) to blog in English, but also "allowed" to connect in their native language when necessary and/or possible to enhance their understanding that their engagement and use would increase. I would immediately become concerned about my own inability to monitor or sensor (if necessary) their postings in their own language or through links that I wouldn't understand. We have a large number of students recently enrolled from Korea. These students are very technology savy and use text messaging frequently but in their native language. I can't even imitate the symbols of their language much less try to figure out what they are communicating to each other. I have to believe that culturally they have a certain amount of propriety to their texting. However, think of the "power" technology and blogging will give to the struggling ELL student that feels so isolated because of language constraints. It truly makes the globe accessible in every sense.
    I would really be interested in following your efforts in using blogging with your students. Are you finding that they have the keyboarding techniques to make it feasible for them to blog?

  6. Marsha,

    All of my ELL students are from Spanish speaking countries and speak English when they come to me in the 9th grade. Due to the fact that we are a technical and vocational school they must be at a certain ESL/ELL level in order to be accepted into our program due to the shops. I rarely have students who speak very little or no English. Luckily I am Spanish and can communicate if need be. They are very tech savvy and have no issues with using the keyboard or any other tech device. I really think the blog will help them in perfecting the english language and strengthen their writing. I will keep you posted!