Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What are blogs?

(Summary of chat with Anne Davis, Fri 21st Jan, 2005: 24 participants)

Advantages of blogs:
We are building learning communities unlike any we've had before. It's exciting!
  • They allow instant publishing to the Internet
  • They cost little or nothing
  • They provide a comment feature that allows interaction from others
  • They are dynamic and focus on content from the participants - listening, talking, collaborating, having a dialog, sharing
  • They work for any subject
  • They are empowering - they give everyone a voice
  • They make writing THE focus - send the message that writing matters
  • They promote ownership of work
  • They allow us to learn from our students
  • They allow us to reflect on our teaching and our student’s learning - think, review, rethink, an endless process
  • They allow the interchange of thoughts and ideas
  • They are exciting - seeing others comment on your thoughts/anticipating comments and replies

Anne's blog is Edublog Insights at Edublog Insights

Uses of Blogs:

Students write about current events, gave their opinions and learned to end their posts with a thought-provoking question to invite participation from others.

Students write little stories or sentences about idioms and illustrated them. Posted, then all class members made a sentence with that idiom in the comments section.

Elementary students were mixed with high school journalism students from another class. Students wanted their writing to be good because they had an audience they cared about.

List of possibilities for blog use

Blogging challenges

Need to make it clear that if students abuse the privilege of Internet use, they lose it. We have to build communities within our classrooms and not just let students loose on the web.

It may be a challenge to get other teachers to see the possibilities of blogging, and to get school administrators at the higher levels to take worthwhile risks for children to enter the information age and learn how to communicate in it.

Anne has never had any students refuse to blog or had parents concerned about blogging although one particpant’s students had refused to blog. Most participants seemed to agree that blogging should be part of student assessment, although there should be a real purpose for blogging too external to any academic purpose.

To correct or not?

Students are learning the language so mistakes are OK! The process is the important part. Anne puts an accuracy disclaimer on her class blog.

Summarized by Bogdan, Janina and Paddy


Blogger Azzam said...

To correct or not to?

I'm anticipating admin and colleagues being lukewarm with the idea of having students post their writings on the internet, mistakes and all. They view writing as a product and the Weblog as the final edition, but many teachers view writing as a process. Since the student's writing is on the internet, they might think student mistakes reflect badly on the institution. Has anyone faced a similar problem? If so, how did you overcome this obstacle?

Thanks for your input.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

I am lucky to work in an institution which is very conservative on one side - as it would never allow students' work to be published on their school website before the director reading it, correcting it a hundred times or plain discarding it. On the other hand, in my classroom with my students, until now, fortunately, we do as we please. And the end results have been more than satisfactory...so there have been no complaints ;-)

1:53 PM  
Blogger aaron said...

Thanks for the summary Bogdan, Janina, and Paddy - very helpful to everyone!

10:30 PM  
Blogger aaron said...

Like Bee...I'm also lucky to be working in an institution that gives me considerable freedom in the classroom. Spelling and grammatical mistakes in students writing has never been a problem. I have received some criticism from other teachers about it, but I feel that they don't fully understand our main purpose of using these blogs: to meet people in different countries and communicate our ideas, viewpoints, opinions, feelings, etc. Blogging is an important part of our language learning activities, but it is only a part! We also work out of a textbook, study writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. Sometimes we do activities where students will exchange blog posts and try correcting the "mistakes" they see. So, I think as long as blogging is part of the greater language learning whole, it is a mistake to expect perfection before publishing. After all, as Nathan says, blogging is not about pontification, but rather participation. It's also about communication. And we don nede ta spel good ta do dat.

10:40 PM  
Blogger PaddyG said...

I suppose the blogging work is much the same as fluency work - in the written word rather than the spoken. Just as valid as practising oral fluency, in my opinion, especially if balanced with other accuracy work. You don't often hear teachers telling sts to remain silent until they can speak perfectly, so why this reticence about seeing imperfect written work? It's not merely part of the process of writing - it's fundamental to the process of language learning all together. (Isn't it?)
I'm also 'lucky' enough to work in an institution conservative enough not to be aware what goes on on the web, and therefore I'm allowed to do what I like pretty much!

11:40 PM  

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