I have used blogs in the past but after reading how several teachers have used blogs in their classroom I realize I have not used it to its full potential. I have used blogs occasionally to have students respond to a question or activity they participated in but their responses were short and not well thought through. Seeing how it can be used more effectively has made me reconsider how I might use it next year in my class.
I like to do a lot of novel studies in my fourth grade reading class. Students often create small journals where they respond to various questions throughout their reading. Next year I believe I could use blogging as a way for students to respond to their reading. Posting a general question each week (or every couple of days) for them to respond to will allow them time to reflect on their learning. Questions like: how is plot helping to develop the character? Or how does the author’s writing style affect the tone of the story? The questions will require them to think about their response and will not be just an answer they can pick out from the reading. What I like to most about blogging is the idea that they can read each other’s posts and also respond. Once they realize that others will be reading their responses they will put more thought into their writing and become more critical thinkers. This not only will improve their reading skills but also their writing abilities. I know students love to use the computer and I believe they will enjoy this. The biggest problem I see with using blogging is getting all students to the computer. We have a computer lab which I can sign up to use but the time will be limited. My idea is to have the students prewrite and edit their response before going to the lab or allowing class time for small groups to respond each day (I do have four computers in my classroom). Either way I want my students to be exposed to blogging and see the true nature it is meant for. I intend for them to become more aware of their writing and become responsible learners.
One other way I may use blogging in my classroom is through my math class. I love to present students with challenging word problems (you know the ones that have multiple steps to solve). I will post a word problem on Monday morning and the students have all week to work on it and submit their responses. The key is when they submit their answer they must be able to explain and/or show how they arrived at their answer. I realize they can read other students’ blogs and figure out how to solve it, but I believe when they have to write their response they will soon realize they must figure it out. It is okay if they use someone else’s reply to help them understand how to work through the problem because it will be just like a peer tutor, and they generally enjoy that! Blogging will allow them time to see multiple ways to solve a problem and also give everyone a chance to participate. I believe my students next year are going to enjoy blogging and I am going to use it to increase their level of learning.