Blogging is the modern response to the pamphlets and soapboxes of previous eras. Anyone with access to a computer, or a computer-like device, with Internet access can blog. S/he can find an audience of from zero to billions.
A blog is a tool to express opinions, to spread ideas, to sell products or ideology. It can also be used to educate. It is one of the “new” tools available to classroom teachers.
I believe that it can be of great value to teachers of English (Language Arts), especially writing teachers and to History (Social Studies) teachers. I’ve taught both subjects and my wife is an English teacher—both of us at the middle school/junior high level.
English teachers: give your kids a prompt and have them respond to it; have them respond to the responses of others; learn how to respond in a professional manner; learn how to defend your own position.
Your class has just finished reading a book: don’t assign a book report—assign a blog post. Don’t have them recap the story; have them give you their opinion of the story, the characters and defend their point of view from the story itself.
If the girls all liked the book and the boys all hated it, or the opposite, you might find you have to re-evaluate your own use of the book.
“But I Don’t Know Anything About Blogging.”
There are plenty of places to learn. As a start try reading the NCTE magazine Voices from the Middle, Volume 22 Number 2, December 2014.
The Classroom Blog: Enhancing critical Thinking, Substantive Discussion, and Appropriate Online Interaction by Shannon Baldino. Don’t let the name of the article scare you; Voices uses title like this for all of its articles, even the good ones.
Baldino gives you both her first hand experiences with this tool and links where you can get further ideas. Including:
Also try: readwritethink.org In the Keyword Search box type in: blogs
My advice (as though you wanted it):
Give it a try.
Play with it over the upcoming holidays (Christmas/New Years).
You have five or six classes—try it with one.
You have five or six kids way ahead of everyone else—have them try it.
School district, or your principal’s, control is too anal retentive to use EduBlogs? See what the district offers, Blackboard maybe?
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Too much trouble and not worth the effort?
Maybe, but if you use it in a classroom of forty kids (like I used to have), think of the audience each kid now has. John posts an opinion and thirty-nine others have “instant” access to it without exchanging papers in class or posting papers on the bulletin board. Use it with five or six classes? Hmmmm . . . A budding writer now has an audience.
Leary about trying it? Beats taking home 200-240 two to three page book reports over the Christmas holidays.
Ho, ho, ho . . .
PS: Have an opinion of your own and want to share it with the world? Had a lesson, assignment or project that went over well? Something went horribly wrong and you want ideas from others how to make it go right (but not from the guy who teaches next door)? Start your own blog. Lots of teachers have; add yourself to the mix.