Friday, December 22, 2006

Student blogging

Am I the last one on the blogging bus?

We just finished up a unit on The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, a play by Paul Zindel. The play is fairly short, easy to read, and only has three major characters. It's great to read and act out in class. As a result, I struggled to think of ways to encourage my students' thinking beyond the classroom, and to extend the discussions we did have inside it. That is, until I decided to use my new blog.

I put a prompt up every few days and asked the kids to respond in the comments section. Here's what I got. And you know what, I didn't have to waste class time collecting anything hastily scribbled and ripped out of a notebook or watching a kid rifle through a backpack. I read their homework at my leisure, and I even posted some of it on the whiteboard with a digital LCD projector as part of class discussions. The kids loved it, too. What really surprised me is that one of the biggest reasons they mentioned for loving the blogging process is because it made it easier for them to understand the homework assignment. Numerous students told me that if they were confused about the homework question, they looked to see what their classmates had written and it helped them. The best example of this was the posting about good literature. We cut and pasted pieces of their definitions into a Word document to create a graphic organizer/study guide before the test. Better still is their work remains as a future resource for the class.

I think what has made this technology so invigorating for the classroom is its immediacy and transparency. Teachers looking for those authentic situations in which to publish student writing can find it with student blogging.

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