Sunday, March 11, 2007

School wide blogging: What should it entail?

Recently I have been participating in a conversation on Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School about blogging in the classroom. It started as his think aloud and evolved through multiple post and comments to a good discussion about how to utilize blogs in a school wide setting. This issue is just coming into its own as more teachers are employing blogging in connection with their classes across a school community.

Some of the issues to consider include:

  1. One blog per students or multiple blogs per student

In my opinion and experience one blog per students is the way to go. It allows for the students to experience cross curricular applications and synthesis of learning. It works to counter the departmentalization too prevalent in our current system of education. It also encourages teacher collaboration.

  1. How are blogs used and who assesses the blogs/ for what purpose?

Clay has developed one option which you can read about on his blog. In essence it utilizes the blog as a journal of the students learning journey over 4 years. The blog will be a synthesis project culminating in their graduation year. One issue at the heart of his approach is a concern that using blogs in a more homework oriented fashion robs them of their power. (You need to read what he says to get a whole picture because this simplistic explanation does not do justice to his thought process) Clay, thanks for raising the question and helping me to think through my views. You are doing some great things and you always make your own learning curve transparent which gives me wings too.

I believe that writing across the curriculum is essential. It is the gateway to thinking like a scientist, a historian or a mathematician. It is the antidote to memorizing empty facts and leads to synthesis and higher level thinking. Therfore ideally it involves all teachers and all disciplines.

In addition, I think that engaging the students requires an authentic audience. Therefore my vision ( it s not a developed plan yet) is that blogs will be an integral part of all classes. I work at the K-8 level and the main focus of blogging is in grades 6 to 8. For now because the students still need to explore a variety of topics to expand their world some blogging will be prescribed. Teachers will need to help the students build an authentic audience and deliberately connect them with experts in the real world.

I also believe that blogs do not stand alone and therefore building Personal Learning Communities that reflect subject areas and course content are an important factor in creating reflective writing in content areas. I believe that a cross curricular team approach to mentoring (and assessing) the students is important so that they are encouraged to develop their voices and thinking in light of the unique voice and thinking characterized by different disciplines.

What do you think school wide blogging should take into consideration?

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