This 2014/2015 year feels like it’s the one where student blogging could be a very real reality. One reality of working in a community school is that many of your students do not have access to computers or the internet at home. This, paired with the lack of student laptops, made it difficult to put blogs into a weekly routine. This year I am fortunate enough to have avoided these drawbacks, and am thinking more and more about how, and what platform to use. I had been using Google Drive as a means for students to create and share their work, and it helped me to keep things easily organized.
Sue Waters, out guest speaker tonight, obviously has a vested interest in blogs (Edublogs is her employer). It had me floored to find out that Edublogs hosts 2 million blogs! It’s amazing to think that so many kids are plugged in, emoting and expressing themselves. Sue helped to reconfirm the benefits of using blogs as a classroom tool for expression, citing Clive Thompson’s Globe and Mail article on the Audience Effect. She pointed out how there is a direct correlation between the size of your potential audience, and the motivation and effort put into the actual written work. For example, the little widget that shows a global map with red dots signifying your audience, is a huge motivator. I know that since I have started reblogging for EC&I 831, I have been checking a similar widget in my dashboard, and it was really exciting to see people around the world taking a look at my writing.
In the past, when I’ve given blogs a go in my classroom, this same cause for motivation has been thwarted by lack of visits and comments. Learning about quadblogging (a site that shares a classroom set of blogs with three other classroom sets) has me excited, as it instantly provides the student with a swath of other students, interested in reading and commenting. I also loved the idea of 3C’s and a Q (connect, comment, compliment, and question), as it gives all the students a routine to develop and follow when interacting with other blogs.
The second half of Sue’s presentation was very practical, and her going through the motions of setting up blogs as well as moderating, had me thinking more about my use of Google Drive in the classroom, and where classroom blogs would work alongside it. Much of what I ask students to create on Google drive could be easily replicated on a blog. The idea of the student ‘owning’ their blog, and the potential for not only the teacher/classmates to view and comment on said blog is giving me some serious thoughts about becoming a little less reliant on the Google Suite.
A long letter is going home tomorrow about all the new things we’ll be doing as a class, and blogging will be on there, alongside diy.org (a structured way of integrating Genius Hour into the classroom), and our commitment to at least 20 minutes of reading every evening.