February 27, 2010

Blogs


Today's students are social creatures. From passing notes in the hallway, texting for hours on their cell phones, or chatting with friends on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, students aged 11-14 have an intense need to be part of a peer group. These activities are a way for young adolescents to develop their identity and stay in close contact with one another.  The idea of blogging, which is a portmanteau combining the words web and logging, was developed based on the principle that students need  to communicate with one another.  They want to be heard and what better way to facilitate that desire than blogging?  A blog in the most general sense is an online journal where users can share opinions, discuss various topics and comment on what others have said before them.  So how can you incorporate one into your classroom?

In the past, I have used blogs to better communicate with my classes and provide a space for my students to share their ideas.  A more common usage in the classroom is to facilitate student discourse between teacher and student as well as between students.

The simplest and safest way to begin blogging is to use a web-based blogging site that was designed with educators and students in mind.  Blogmeister is a free blogging tool that is completely online (you can access it anywhere) and there's no software to install.  It was developed by David Warlick (Seymour's Keynote speaker to start the 2007-2008 school year), founder of the Landmark Project.  The teacher sets up the blog and student accounts, and students can add their own entries. The teacher reviews each post and either approves and publishes the entry or returns it to the student for editing before it is published.  To check out some blogs that have already been set-up by other teachers head on over to Blogmeister today and click around.  When you are ready to start your own class blogmeister, click here for a step-by-step walk-through on how to get started.  Please note that Seymour Middle School's pass code is srmesx3.  If you are from another school, you will need to click here to contact David Warlick about obtaining a school pass code.  As far as ideas for how to use your class blog...the sky is the limit.  You can have your students review a book they recently read, discuss a current event that is happening in the world, share ideas for an upcoming project, etc.  You can also use your class blog as an online journal where each student gets to share what they are thinking and comment on what their peers have written (as this blog is used).  Use the comment box below to share how you have used blogs in the past or how you plan on using them in the future.  Happy Blogging!!!

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