Provost English & Technology Blog

My P.E.T Project

Integrating a Blog Into My Classroom (Application 2)

Posted by mprovost on January 13, 2010

Blogging within my 7th grade Language Arts classroom is something I have only begun to touch the surface of with my students.  Many are interested, but as recently as today when I discussed this prompt with them, they are fearful of putting their writing out there for others to see.  We discussed several possible options, one generated by me, the others by them and now I have quite a few ideas of how this may work in class.  I really would like to try their ideas first, knowing they will be more invested in the process if it is based on their suggestions.

One plan I would like to pursue is setting up a blog that replaces their weekly reading responses they turn in each Friday. These responses, based on their Independent Reading Book selections, have specific prompts and reflections related to our current studies. For example, this term we are following the protagonist and trying to uncover their values – what they are, who influenced them, etc.  These weekly discussions could conceivably take place on a blog board.  I would tier the assignment; a thoughtful post that meets all requirements (book title, author, rating, paragraph construction, content & mechanics) would achieve a score at the B level.  In order to reach the A level, students would be required to thoughtfully respond to another student’s post based on specific criteria set forth in a rubric.  (Much like we do in our class each week!)

This plan would, as described by Will Richardson, be a great place for students to look over and reflect on the growth they have accomplished throughout the term (Richardson, 2009). Though I require them to keep their hard copies, this would be a much more effective way to document and organize their work.

Immediately my students raised concerns about others seeing their work, but were put more at ease when I mentioned that within our class NING, I could set up groups.  Only those students in their class group can see their posts and response.  They seemed comforted by this safety net though still realized they would need to edit and draft before opening their writing up to others.

I believe using a blog in this way would strengthen their ability to reflect on their past work, be a useful way to see the writing of others and share in the process of their learning, and will reinforce the value of the steps of the writing process.  The only question that remains…why didn’t I do this sooner?

** A Student Generated Idea**

*Set up “groups” based on their partners for the “Boy/Girl” book project so they can blog back and forth on their learning and experiences within this unit.  Others could share in their experiences and compare their own reactions.  Other LA teachers could witness the thoughts being generated within the conferences.  This would take their partner work into a wider space, increasing the impact of their learning.

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6 Responses to “Integrating a Blog Into My Classroom (Application 2)”

  1. Lindsay said

    I peeked at your site and it looks very cool. Your post is making me so curious about ning. You were saying that you can make groups within the network? How does this work? It seems like a life saver. In fact, your discussion of the writing process makes me realize that this could work very well for writer’s workshop. One of the major frustrations of writer’s workshop for students is that they have to have at least three hard copies for each week. This can really add up and, since our library hours have been cut, can be difficult for kids who have trouble printing at home. A blog would eliminate that need. I still would want to work out how to edit within the text. Can you link word documents into the blog? Just how different is a ning network from other blog format.

    My desire to learn this stuff is almost overwhelming. I think it relates back to what Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2008) was getting to talking about need. It seems as though having my appetite whetted by this course is presenting an explosion of need and possibilities. Like you, I think, “Why wasn’t I doing this before?”

    Resource

    Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). [DVD]. Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society. Baltimore, MD

    • mprovost said

      Hi Lindsay,

      Please feel free to poke around my NING, but know it is still under construction. If you would like to join my English class NING, I would have to approve you. The site is http://www.provostenglish.ning.com and I will accept you as a member. This site is set to private because it has my students posting within the site. You may get a better feel for how NING groups work if you take a look at the English Companion NING – the link is located on my home page of this blog, on the right side under “English Rocks!”.

  2. Keegan said

    Melissa,

    After reading your comments on my blog (Horatio’s Philosophy) I just had to come and see your site. After reading your article I was not disappointed. You clearly have the sort of energy that a middle school classroom requires and I am happy for your students that they have an instructor so enthusiastic about adopting new ways to help them learn. I was surprised that your students expressed concerns about sharing their work, but I do take some comfort in the idea that they might be aware that their writing will have to meet certain standards. Perhaps the best way to help your students overcome their self-consciousness would be conduct an editing unit in which they focus on editing their own writing in anticipation of their online posts. You could show examples (good and bad) and workshop on common errors. The unit would have special relevance to those who express concerns about sharing their writing online and would benefit their writing offline as well. Good luck!

    • mprovost said

      Thank you Keegan for your idea. Editing is something that is always difficult for my students because they don’t understand the value of buying into a final draft that is typically for my eyes only. I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be more invested in the process of editing if they knew it was for a blog post that all may see. This may be the elusive “carrot” I’ve been trying for years to find! If I can accomplish writing, editing and blogging all in one unit, I would have to call that a success.

      Great idea – I’m going to give this one some thought and engage in the “happy dance” about meeting state standards for writing while engaging kids in a useful aspect of technology.

      Best,
      Melissa

      • Keegan said

        I am flattered that you would consider my suggestion. I find many useful ideas and many impressive innovations in your posts and in your discussions. You seem to already be a bit further along than myself in implementing technology into your classroom and I’m grateful to have your example and input. I would be surprised if any of my ideas are truly helpful for you, but you are welcome to use any ideas that appeal to you.

        Keegan

  3. Melissa,

    Hello, I like how you informed your students about blogging and included them in the process of putting the guidelines together. One way you could put them at ease about writing their first response is to ask students students to write about what they like most about seventh grade. This would allow students to write about their feelings while getting comfortable sharing their responses for their peers to view.Kathy Martin had great ideas about using blogging to get responses from everyone in the class and offering students the proper way to write on-line . Blogging is a great way to motivate students to practice their writing and grammar skills because their writing is getting published on the site for the whole class to view (Laureate, 2008). How would you have students reflect on their previous posts?

    Good luck with your class weblogs!

    Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work and Society .(2008)
    Spotlight on Technology (program 6). (Laureate Education, Inc., CD-ROM, 2008 release).

    Take Care,

    Alison Pietrzak

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