Last week, I had the opportunity to host a professional development session on blogging in the classroom. I was quite surprised with the positive response from staff, with many leaving the session with the motivation and ideas to incorporate a blog into their teaching. Because this session was quite positive, I am going to share what we did. First, we will start with the formal component: an overview of why to consider blogging in your classroom, the different ways to use a blog, the implications blogging has on student learning, and the challenges a teacher may face when implementing blogging into the classroom.
What is Blogging?
Also known as a weblog or an online public diary, a blog is a website intended for reporting and journaling, giving the author the opportunity to publish content to the Internet (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). A blog can be public, or restricted to a group that the author controls. Hosted by a provider, users can modify content and add comments to their blog with little technological knowledge (Sandars, 2006). Common blog sites include WordPress, Blogger, and Edublogs. Microblogs, or a blog that limits the size the information the user can share, are an extension of the blog. Twitter is a well-known microblogging applications (Greenhow et al., 2009).
Kidblog (www.kidblog.org) is a popular choice for teachers to use in their classroom as it is approved by the school board and relatively easy to use. Teachers can create individual password protected accounts for their students. No personal information is shared with the website administrator or other classmates and students can respond to each other through the classroom account. Students can access each other’s pages securely and provide comments. Depending on teacher preference, moderation of both posts and comments can be implemented to ensure students are engaging in appropriate digital citizenship.
Types of Blogs:
Blogs can be used in multiple ways to support learning. Blogging can be used to enhance learning in several subject matters and can be integrated into current curriculum practices. Students can showcase their work, share it with their friends and/or family, and keep their ideas in one convenient location. Blogs can provide alternative forms of literacy not frequently used in classrooms (Bloch, 2007). It’s a way to bridge out of school literacy with in-school learning, and to begin preparing students for the 21st century world (Zawilinski, 2009).
Common blogs include:
|Classroom News Blog||This consists of a teacher sharing class/school news and information with parents and students. Students are required to read and understand blog posts. They take responsibility for their own learning.|
|Mirror Blog||This allows bloggers to reflect on their thinking. Students may explain concepts learned in class or show their thinking to a math question.|
|Showcase Blog||Students post art projects, writing and podcasts to share with their teacher and classmates. This is a lot like a learning portfolio.|
|Literature Response Blog||Teachers will post prompts and invite students to respond. This is the most commonly used blog in elementary schools.|
|Podcasting||Students create a podcast about events and learning that happens in the classroom that week. They are given the opportunity to brainstorm, review, edit, refine and enhance their podcast before posting to their blog. Hasley’s example was done in partners so the students had support while they were producing their podcast.|
|Exciting Writing||Used as a showcase section. Students can connect their writing with an audience.|
|Events||Students share recent memorable events in class and described them on their blog.|
|Book Review||Students review a book of their choice or of the teacher’s choice. Students provide opinions and suggestions about the reviewed book. They could discuss plot, setting and character developments.|
This chart was beautifully articulated by Chelsea O’Leary, based of the work of Kalsey (2007) and Zawilinski (2009).
To see more work by Chelsea, please visit her blog at: http://chelseaoleary.wordpress.com/
Implications and Challenges of Blogging:
Blogging has a significant impact on literacy development and writing achievement in student learning. Specifically, current research supports a positive relationship between blogging and the development of communication skills, reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing for an audience, and student motivation and ownership over their writing (Cassidy, 2008; Frye et al., 2010; Handsfield et al., 2009; McGrail & Davis, 2011; Murray & Hourrigan, 2008; Swanson & Legutko, 2008).
Along with the notable benefits to student learning, there are significant challenges facing the effective integration of blogging in the classroom. Most notably, these challenges include the readiness of the technology itself, the skills of the learners, and the training and support of the teachers themselves (Bravo and Young, 2011; Bull, Thompson, Searson, Garofalo, Park, Young, & Lee, 2008; McLoughlin and Lee, 2008; Reich, Murnane & Willett, 2012). To be successful with blogging, these three areas need to be incorporated into instructional design.
For a more comprehensive overview of how each of these areas are impacted by blogging, please watch the video presentation at the end of this page.
If you would like to try blogging or host a PD on blogging in the classroom, please feel free to use the resources and information located here.
After our overview of blogging, a few staff members showcased some student work on blogs in areas of ELL, CTF (digital citizenship), and digital photography. From here, we let the staff explore Kidblog itself and challenged them to try to set up their own blogs. Because this platform is quite simple to use, all teachers experienced success – even those with little technology experience. At the end, we called everyone back together and asked them to discuss the question how could you see yourself incorporating blogging into your classroom? We then had a large group share. The session went well, and I am looking forward to see where my current school takes this new teaching tool. Again, I would like to give special thanks to Chelsea O’Leary for sharing her research and resources to help make the session so successful!
Bloch, J. (2007). Abdullah’s blogging: A generation 1.5 student enters the blogosphere. Language Learning & Technology, 11(2), 128-141.
Bravo, V. J., & Young, M. F. (2011). The Impact of a Collaborative Wikipedia Assignment on Teaching, Learning, and Student Perceptions in a Teacher Education Program. Canadian Journal Of Learning And Technology, 37(3), 1 – 25.
Bull, G., Thompson, A., Searson, M., Garofalo, J., Park, J., Young, C., & Lee, J (2008). Connecting informal and formal learning: Experiences in the age of participatory media. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(2). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol8/iss2/editorial/article1.cfm
Cassidy, K. (2008). To blog or not to blog. Connect Magazine, 21(4), 1-3.
Frye, E. M., Trathen, W., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2010). Internet workshop and blog publishing: Meeting student (and teacher) learning needs to achieve best practice in the twenty-first-century Social Studies classroom. Social Studies, 101(2), 46-53.
Greenhow, C., Robelia, B. & Hughes, J (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age: Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246 – 259.
Handsfield, L., Dean, T., & Cielocha, K. (2009). Becoming critical consumers and producers of text: Teaching literacy with web 1.0 and web 2.0. Reading Teacher, 63(1), 40-50.
Kalsey, S. (2007). Embracing emergent technologies and envisioning new ways of using them for literacy learning in the primary classroom. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6(2), 99-107.McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 25(4), 415-437.
McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10 – 27.
Murray, L., & Hourigan, T. (2008). Blogs for specific purposes: Expressivist or socio-cognitivist approach? ReCALL, 20(1), 82-97.
Reich, J., Murnane, R. & Willett, J. (2012) The State of Wiki Usage in U.S. K-12 Schools: Leveraging Web 2.0 Data Warehouses to Assess Quality and Equity in Online Learning Environments. Educational Researcher, 41(1), 7 – 15.
Sandars, J. (2006). Twelve Tips for Effective Online Discussions in Continuing Medical Education. Medical Teacher, 28(7). 591 – 593. doi:10.1080/01421590600879455)
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of Distance Education, (5th Ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.
Swanson, K., & Legutko, R. (2008). The effect of book blogging on the motivation of 3rd-grade students. Online Submission, 1-8.
Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661.