Cross posted from Kathleen Morris’ blog – Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom.
Most of you will know how passionate I am about blogging in the classroom. Since I started blogging with my students in 2008, I have come to realise how enormous the benefits are.
The diagram below summarises the most powerful benefits I’ve found from blogging:
- Improved Literacy Skills: I wrote about the improvement in my students’ literacy skills in this post. Not only were skills improved, but engagement levels increased. Reluctant writers wanted to write for a purpose and students were using blogs to purposefully communicate and converse with others.
- Authentic Audience: In the traditional classroom, the only audience of student work was the teacher and sometimes classmates and parents. Blogs provide a much larger audience for student work and an avenue for feedback and self-improvement through commenting.
- Sense of Classroom Community: Creating a class blog requires teamwork and collaboration. Students and teachers learn and share their learning together. A real sense of classroom community can be developed through blogging and establishing a class identity.
- Global Connections: I have found this to be one of the most exciting benefits of blogging. Blogging can help flatten the classroom walls and we have got to know many classes across five continents who we call our “blogging buddies”. The benefits of these connections are priceless. A sense of understanding and tolerance develops and students can learn a lot about the world in which they live. We’ve used blogs to undertake global collaborative projects such as Collaboration Corner and the Uganadan Global Project.
- ICT Skills: Blogging assists students to become more ICT literate which is an important 21st century skill. Through blogging, we’re able to incidentally discuss many ICT skills such as keyboard shortcuts, researching online and troubleshooting.
- Home- School Partnerships: I have received many comments from parents and families who love using the class blog as a “window into our classroom”. Through commenting, families can be a part of what is happening in our classroom and have real time access to their child’s education.
- Appropriate Online Behaviours: Everyone will agree that teaching students to be safe online is an important issue. You can’t just do one off lessons on cyber safety. Cyber safety is not a separate subject. Through being heavily involved in blogging, my Grade Two class has opportunities almost every day to discuss cyber safety issues and appropriate online behaviours in an authentic setting.
- Confidence: I have found that students really take pride in their work that goes on the blog and want to do their best for their impending audience. Students can gain self-confidence from being part of a class blog and demonstrating their achievements.
Overall, blogging is a platform for everything. It is a fantastic place to start for teachers and students who want to learn about technology. Additionally, there are so many wonderful Web 2.0 tools out there which have so much more value when you can embed them in a blog.
Great post, Kathleen with a neat and visual summary of the wonderful benefits of blogging. At this stage, blogging would have to be the key 21st century literacy. I still remember the excitement that students display when they get their first red dot on their clustr map. There is, as you say an authentic audience and that becomes such a high motivator for our students. As students get older and have their own blogs, they also learn authenticity of information and phishing and spam, common issues when working online. The ICT skills also include dealing with and using html code, hyperlinked text etc.
It has been interesting to follow some of the blog posts written in the recent floods crisis here in Australia.
How can we make blogging mainstream in our schools?
You’re right about blogging being the 21st Century Literacy. Clustr Maps are a great motivator and a wonderful way to learn about the world and place value for my Grade Twos. Always looking for a teachable moment!
How can we make blogging mainstream in our schools? I’m not sure but I think it has to come from the top in each individual school. Our school has made some attempts at saying everyone has to have a blog but of course that doesn’t work when it isn’t modelled, enforced, reflected on etc.
I think the approach that is working for me at my school at the moment, is simply showing the staff the possibilities and benefits. Slowly the teachers are starting to realise that they just can’t avoid getting involved when they see the benefits on offer.
We have such a long way to go though!
I completely agree that there are huge benefits in allowing student’s to have there own blog, and I would presume that it would encourage them to want to write and express their ideas more.
Interestingly, I’ve recently completed an Introduction to IB course and part of their middle years programme is for student’s to undertake a ‘personal project’. We were told that for their journal keeping, student’s were given the option to either hand write their journal or to keep an online blog, and out of approximately 100 students only 3 or 4 students chose to make a blog. What are your views on why students may still be hesitant when it comes to blogging for school? Do you think it may be because students nowadays are so used to using the internet as a social playground through things such as facebook, that they don’t associate it with something that should be done in the classroom?