Blogs in My Classroom

Hello, it’s rainy, but a good day. School today in Boonsboro was canceled due to a power outage, and though teachers still had to work (in the dark, at another school,  with a personal day), the quiet and time to “catch up” was a phenomenal surprise.

My master’s assignment? I surely have to learn more about blogging and RSS feed before I tackle a classroom blog. Of course my interest is piqued, but the set-up is pulling me down. I cannot wait; however, until I am savvy enough to enjoy the kazillion options before me. I have already found the blog of “Bea” from France who writes, cooks, photographs, and parents her way across (down?) the page with color and grace. What a wonderful way to travel and at such a reasonable price!

Adding a blog to my classroom will be exciting, and I have decided that my first attempt in the classroom will be used for the initial assignment of the day. A kind of warm-up, review, discussion, connecting thing. (How do you like the formality of my writing?) The Internet is so very enticing, I cannot think of a better way to get students settled, on task, and ready to learn about the next (maybe boring to them) subject of the day. 

Here’s the deal. They walk in, log in, and most days find their initial experience in class a surprise. Maybe their instructions are to research or to respond to a prompt. Maybe they find instructions to study for a quiz in 10 minutes. Just imagine the purposeful movement towards the computers when they learn that those who utilize their “blog up” time appropriately have more time for study. Discussion, review of the day before, or even my need for “advice” will add to the intrigue. Of course I will have to be “on my toes,” but no matter the subject, the allure of the Web 2.0 will bring focus to an otherwise normal routine.

I look forward to hearing from you, 

Stephanie D.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Blogs in My Classroom

  1. I love the idea of having students start the day with a blog. They need something to center them and calm them down, especially if they’re middle schoolers or freshmen. Do you have access to many computers in your classroom? The only possible problem I can forsee is that if you do not that the students not using the computer may get restless. I only have two computers in my classroom, and one is off limits to students and one is fairly ancient, so that would be a problem in my classroom. It would be wonderful to have a language arts class in a computer lab setting or to even have access to many lap tops. That’s not the case for me, but maybe for you?

    • If you’re planning on having kids doing blogs at home, you may want to consider Richardson’s point that “more than 80 percent of households” have internet access at home, but until those numbers “reach 100 percent, Weblogs will be out of reach” for many of our students (Richardson, 2006). I know there are many students in our district without internet access. I think I’m going to do a technology survey first to determine who has access and who doesn’t.

      Resources:

      Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

    • stephaniedyer

      Tonia,

      Thank heavens you came. I am having a difficult time putting this all together. Yes, I have 10 computers (although 2 may have to be set up – laptops with cord), so with my smaller (this semester anyway!) classes, the access is not a problem. I teach yearbook, the only way for me to have my own room, so the computers were a necessity, and there were no “takers” for the yearbook class.
      My students are remedial 9th and 12th graders with focus and other issues, so I thought that “settling” them with technology might just work.

      Thanks for your conversation. This is great fun!
      Stephanie D.

  2. Marilyn Goodrich

    Wow! I love the idea of that initial activity at the beginning of class. What a great way to get them motivated and ready to start their learning that day. You can then have a “post prompt” after class once in a while that they can answer at home if they have access. I think the planning and organization are the worse part of using blogs, but I think after some thought you can really make it quick and easy for yourself to monitor what your students are doing. Great ideas!

    • stephaniedyer

      Thanks for the encouragement, Marilyn. I find that the students who need my help the most are the hardest to calm down at the beginning of the class. Heck! They’re the hardest to calm down anytime! What am I thinking?
      I just feel for these kids, taking what life has thrown at them and then I make them try to sit and “learn” for an hour and a half. I swear sometimes I think they can look right through my head! I need technology! No matter how difficult to reach in my classroom, they are adept with all kinds of technology!
      I agree: planning and organization is the worst part of any classroom, so let’s get this technology thing down. We all know that part of it gets better!

      Thanks, Marilyn!

      Stephanie D.

  3. Your idea is brilliant. I like the idea of teaching students how to ‘purposefully’ search the Internet in a ten-minute time frame. What a great skill to teach; after 180 days of this, maybe they’d become more successful than we are at navigating the Web without getting lost. Plus, the Internet can offer so much more information that you could ever get together from school resources. You’re lucky that you have enough computers in your room to pull this off!!
    The only problem I could foresee while reading your idea came with the thought of making time (a teacher’s biggest problem) to plan out and type up these ten-minute warm-ups. You’d have to be really thoughtful about how you directed them towards using the Internet, since it’s such a vast space. It would be great if you could get a group of colleagues together to collect Internet warm-up ideas, links included, in one place. Maybe there’s a blog site for that somewhere out there? Then you could get ideas from each other. If you ever find or create one, let me know. I’m in!

    • stephaniedyer

      Kris B.,

      Thank you for those four words: “your idea is brilliant” as I feel so not-brilliant lately. I need much encouragement with my “learningload” lately.

      I believe my students are much more adept at navigating the I-Net than many of us, so I am not overly worried about questions regarding search taking overly long. (I definetely would provide guidance if I thought they may not “come back” in time.)

      Your idea of collaboration with a “group of colleagues” is inspiration as I know just the “group” I will ask! Thank heavens for my master’s classmates!

      Stephanie D.

  4. Freda M.

    I have used moodle before for a book discussion and that went well. However, we did it for a small group of students in a technology camp. We would read a chapter and the next day students would respond to the question as a class beginner. It was actually enjoyable and the students loved it.
    Freda 7th ELA

    • stephaniedyer

      Freda,

      I am slow at this “blogging” and “RSS” as I am clicking, clicking, clicking trying to find connections. Every second I find new things! I surely hope my brain begins logging this stuff soon!

      What is moodle? I have never heard of it. (Not that I know that much. Wow, this is great learning, isn’t it?) Would moodel work with my remedial classes? How does it work?

      Stephanie D.

  5. I think it’s a great idea to begin the class with a blog entry. The students are immediately engaged at the start of class. This will be good for students to learn how to navigate on a blog that is educational. Using this as a warmup type activity will motivate their interest in their content. Good idea!

  6. Carla Smith

    Stephanie,
    I love the idea of starting the day with this activity. The question I have for you is what will you do to differentiate for ability levels? Some students will get quite far in the predetermined time while others will struggle to get past step one. The reason I ask is that, working with students with disabilities, I find myself with this problem all of the time. I am looking for help in overcoming this obstacle while utilizing technology. You have such great ideas so far, I am looking forward to seeing what solutions you may have for this dilemma.
    Carla Smith
    Intervention Specialist 7/8

    • stephaniedyer

      Heavens Carla,
      That’s a great question. I have only just begun working with the kinds of kids you see this semester. I feel I need to observe them on the Internet before I make any judgements. I see so many students these days who are so much more adept at technology than reading or writing. I know they still need and will grow from my guidance in these subjects, but I truly believe they will perform over and above what I usually see in the traditional classroom.
      Have you tried the Internet with the students you teach? To what extent and what were the results?

      We’ll have to work on this together. In the meantime, I must “jump through all the hoops” our county demands before I can set up my classroom blog. Unfortunately all my studies and responsibilities at work have me tapped out at the moment. I do hope to use Web 2.0 soon though. I feel an urgency.

      Have a great week,
      Stephanie D.

  7. Jim

    I also love the idea of a do now to get the students thinking. I always have a quick start up that students must record in their notebooks. When the time comes for better access in my district this is a great idea!

    • stephaniedyer

      Jim,

      I have the computers, but I need to find out how much “red tape” I must go through before initiating a blog. When I mentioned my blog the other day, my boss looked at me as though I had “two heads” and warned me about going through the correct channels.

      I wish every professional in this country had to take this class. I feel a definite need to get moving into the 21st Century. Do you feel like this?

      Thanks for your collaboration,
      Stephanie D.

  8. Paul Harvey

    Stephanie,

    I very much like your idea about having students log in to a blog to find out what their objectives are for the day.

    On a daily basis I have students begin class with a “Quarter Point” question. It consist of review questions or anything to reinforce a topic that we have already studied. If students are correct they earn 1/4 of a point worth of extra credit. At the end of each marking period students have the ability to earn upwards of 3 or 4 points of extra credit.

    I would love to have the ability for students to log on and submit their solutions through a blog.

    We all know how students love working on computers. I feel that if we had these capabilities our students would be in their seats and working before the bell rang instead of two minutes into class!

    Great Ideas.

    Paul Harvey

    • stephaniedyer

      Paul,

      I felt as you when I thought of using my blog for opening “chill time,” etc. I do wonder as Carly though, do you think I will have to differentiate a lot on the computer for a brief 10 minute initiation experience? I hadn’t thought of it. My students surely need my guidance with reading and writing, but I’ve not met any who weren’t adept on a computer or the Internet. They seem to thrive.

      Nice to hear from you,
      Stephanie D.

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