This school year (2013-2014), I am going to start blogging with my students. I have spent a lot of time reading online about the benefits of blogging and connecting with amazing educators on Twitter who are part of my professional learning network and who are avid bloggers. (See below for some comments on a few who I think you should know about!). Being on Twitter has shown me the power of a global audience and network; many of the people I connect with on Twitter are spread far and wide across North America (and beyond!). This leads me to my first point....
There's a ton of different reasons and philosophies and pros and cons. But here are the reasons I want to try blogging this year, based on my learning and research.
1. Authentic experience
What better way to get students to understand the power of words and ideas than to have them share it on a forum which can be viewed globally? I love the idea of a worldwide audience to read and share with. This gives students the chance to create their own digital footprint while building on the skills of research, critical thinking, reflection, writing and editing.
2. Collaboration and Discussion
These concepts can be separate and can be intertwined. The idea of sharing thoughts, reflections, ideas, creative writing, videos, music, etc. with an audience and then having the opportunity to discuss, debate, re-think, analyse, reflect, apply and engage is inspiring to me. The option to peer edit or to work with a partner on a concept or idea is such a real-world, 21st century skill. The option to post comments and share voice or written comments/feedback gives students something they couldn't have with a typed and submitted essay or poster board. The opportunity to discuss and connect with those outside the walls of the school means a more diverse perspective is available and offers an exciting chance for students to connect with those living across the province, country or globe!
3. Creativity, Innovation and Ownership
Blogs allow students so many opportunities to be creative and express themselves in a way that speaks to who they are as individuals while still demonstrating the key knowledge that the teacher is looking to assess. Some students might create videos, others 'photo essays', perhaps poetry or equations or quite simply a written reflection. Students have the chance to take ownership for their own creations and expression. The ability to embed media, include podcasts, edit templates, and share understanding in a multitude of ways means that there's no limit to the creative expression of knowledge that a student can share! The students also have the pride (and responsibility) of ownership! The blog is his/hers and can be set up to reflect his/her personality, interests, talents and passions. As a huge supporter and promoter of differentiated instruction, I really love how many opportunities there are in blogging for students to show their understanding or apply knowledge in diverse and creative ways!
4. Supporting 21st Century Learning Skills
Of course, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity are 21st century learning skills that I have already mentioned. But the last piece is the technology piece of the puzzle. Helping students to feel more at ease with the use of technology and ways to maximize its potential. Digital natives are already tuned in to many types of technology - namely, social media. Harnessing the power of technology for educational purposes and integrating (yes, fully integrating) technology is a key for 21st century learners. Blogging provides the opportunity to develop web skills, understand digital citizenship and its responsibilities and build an online presence and experience that students will need to understand and be at ease with for their futures.
There are many different platforms out there that teachers can use to blog with: Google Sites, Weebly, Blogger, Edublogs, WordPress, Wikispaces and Blogspot, to name a few!
Visit the sites, test them out, ask around and find out which one is best for you!
I am really looking forward to my blogging journey with my students and I will most certainly be blogging about it myself, here on this blog!
In closing, here's a shout out to a few of the bloggers who I have learned from and have been inspired by this summer:
- @davidtedu David's #eduslam on blogging is far more powerful and eloquent than anything I could come up with! If you haven't seen his slam, I highly recommend you check it out here:
- @KLirenman - I have connected with Karen a few times on Twitter and am really impressed with what she does with blogging. I love that Karen has two blogs: her classroom one: http://www.mslirenmansroom.blogspot.ca/ and her own blog where she shares teaching experiences: http://learningandsharingwithmsl.blogspot.ca/. The fact that she blogs with Grade 1 students proves that it can work at any age!
@kathycassidy - Kathy also blogs with young students. I just love all of the photos and videos on her blog! It really shows experiential learning at its finest! http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org/
@PaulSolarz- I will gush even more about Paul when I blog about digital portfolios (eportfolios). Had the opportunity to do a Google Hangout with Paul on digital portfolios and left it very excited and full of ideas! His blog is his own e-portfolio of what he does with his students. Check it out: http://psolarz.weebly.com/mr-solarz-eportfolio.html