Tuesday, November 11, 2014

HOT Blogging: Light Some Fires!

Encourage others to share their voice and their passion for learning will ignite.


Why blog? Who cares? You should.  In a digital world where online communication can be cold and negative, here are some ways to make it HOT and positive.

Two graduate students in my ED  6030 course: Technology in the Classroom at Rockhurst University, did some research about blogging and the important impact it can have on students. 

Ashley Duvall, RU graduate student shares what she learned from her research article:

The issue I have chosen to learn more about for this journal is blogging and its place in the classroom. As an elementary teacher, literacy is a huge area of concern that I need to be on top of for my students. The new literacies created by technology make my job more complex, and finding ways to help students with comprehension and writing skills in this changing society requires that I seek knowledge of new teaching strategies. Blogging has become a hot topic for its effectiveness in helping students with comprehension, synthesis, and writing, and because of this, I wanted to learn more about ways that it can be used in the elementary classroom. The article I read,  HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking  by Lisa Zawilinski (2009), describes a model that was proven effective in a fifth-grade classroom. HOT blogging gives students an online forum to: 

  • voice their opinions
  • do research 
  • see what others are thinking
  • learn to gather information
  • critically evaluate it
  • write about it
  • read other student’s opinions
  • synthesize all of the different pieces together
In the process, they learned about the value in hearing other students’ ideas as well as the importance of supporting their own thoughts with evidence so that they could get their point across. With such positive outcomes, this article should definitely impact the way technology is used in the classroom. It leaves very little question about whether or not it should be implemented. There are questions of privacy, confidentiality, and maintenance, but Zawilinski explains that many of these issues can be taken care of by changing settings during the blog creation phase and by modeling the process for students every step of the way. She mentions a site called  Edublogs  (edublogs.org),  which is just one of the many free blog sites that an educator can use to implement this practice of HOT blogging in the classroom (Zawilinski, 2009). 

I could simply stop at the training I receive here at Rockhurst, but I would be doing a grave injustice to my future students. If a teacher is unwilling to take a risk in learning about new technological tools, their students will be unwilling to take a risk in learning about them too. Likewise, if a teacher uses technology in ineffective ways, students will see no benefit to use them in the future. 


It is my job to show my students the benefit in continuous learning and to lead them and my colleagues in a direction that promotes both growth and effective use in the area of technology



For those of you who are still skeptical about how it can help students....

Carolyn Lynch, 4th grade teacher and RU graduate student further explains her research findings:


 The idea of blogging is somewhat uncomfortable  to educators, especially when the word “student” is thrown into the mix. Student blogging can seem like an incredibly scary thing to conquer, especially for me. Blogging is a difficult concept to understand and it’s hard to know whether students really get significant meaning out of the time spent writing and publishing on a blog. However, some teachers are taking the leap with their students and finding that student blogging is beneficial to students as writers. 

This is just the information I wanted to find when I chose to research blogging in the classroom, as blogging takes technology use to another level. Students can blog on laptops, desktops, iPads, etc. Blogs are very mobile and very easy to make. In fact, I made a blog in about ten minutes. Blogs are not very time consuming, but very beneficial to students’ learning. Blogging pushes them to use higher order thinking and creates audience-aware authors (Davis & McGrail, 2011). Both of these skills are invaluable when it comes to a lifetime for our students. 


Blogging has also proven to be a good writing tool within elementary aged students, so this will impact technology use within the classroom. Students benefit from blogging by becoming more aware of their audiences through writing. Blogging also makes it easier for students to spend time on the writing process. They are able to proof read others’ work and make adjustments to their own work.  This greatly improves their writing process over time. Blogging creates good habits and makes it attainable to proof read and revise work. To further reinforce this subject, blogging research shows that blogging is something we should be incorporating within our classrooms to help our students grow more than they already are.

As a teacher trying to develop life long skills in my students, I will incorporate blogging in to my classroom. Using blogging will encourage my students to try new things, as I will also be new to this process. However, incorporating this into my classroom will not only help them. It will also help me to become a better teacher by pushing myself and constantly growing. This personal growth will then transfer to my students. 

By trying something innovative, I will set a tone of learning and technology use within my school. 

Ed 4030/6030 RU students (and anyone else who would like to share their thoughts):
      1.     These articles covered many benefits about blogging in the classroom. Can you think of any potential issues that might arise in the creation, maintenance, and/or implementation of classroom blogging?

2.     Is blogging something you might want to implement/use within your classroom now? Why or why not?
    Answer these questions below in a comment, please.



Works Cited:
Edublogs (2014).   The world's most popular education blogging service.   Retrieved from http://  edublogs.org/ 

McGrail, E & Davis, A.  (2011).The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing.  Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 25 (4), 415-437.

Zawilinski, L. (2009). Hot blogging: a framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking.   Reading Teacher 62 (8). Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b03a28aa-6578-417d-a36b-0dfd77cc948b%40sessionmgr4002&vid=3&hid=4106 

Special thanks to Caroline and Ashley, my insightful students and guest bloggers.


 "....doesn't matter what sex you are, where you are from...don't let anyone hold you back, don't let anyone stop you." Alicia Keys

Let's encourage kids to channel their talents in a positive way. Blogging can be one of those ways. Listen to Alicia Keys sing live setting your life on fire.  Love her passion!





35 comments:

  1. It is very possibly that challenges will arise when trying to implement blogging into your classroom for the first time. However, challenges and problems aren’t always a bad thing. If you think of these challenges as an opportunity to improve your problem solving skills and flexibility then there are even more reasons to try it!
    I think that blogging in the classroom is a great way for students to express themselves and individualize their education. Students could research and write about the things that interest them rather than being told what to do. I think that blogging will empower students and give them a greater sense of autonomy as well as provide educational benefits such as improvement in writing and editing skills along with opportunities to increase knowledge by researching topics that interest them. For these reasons, I am all aboard for blogging!

    Shelby Kenkel

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    1. Shelby, I love that you brought up the point about blogs being a great way for teachers to practice their problem solving skills and flexibility. Many teachers are afraid to try it out, but that is the very reason that they should. Not only does it improve our own skills, but it shows the students that risk taking and not always knowing exactly how to do something are both okay. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. There are always going to be some sort of challenges that come up when implementing a new idea. The trick is learning how to deal with them and anticipate the problems that could occur before they happen. One thing you could run into is that the students may post inappropriate things on the blog. A way you could avoid this is that the students have to run their topic choice by you and then you as the teacher will just have to monitor the site. I don't know a lot about blogging. Maybe a way to avoid this is if there is a setting where they can submit it through you and then you have to ok it before it publishes.
    With this being said, I still think blogging is a great idea and something I would be willing to try some day with my classroom. I love that it gives the students freedom to write about topics that they are passionate about. Blogging can also be used as a great tool for assessment. You are able to track their writing skills and you can also measure how well they are able comprehend what other students say by the way that they respond to the comments. Another way that it could be used is for a reading unit. Students could have a discussion about characters in the book, the themes, or just their favorite passages. This is a fun way for the students to express their opinions and I believe that this is something that they will use outside of the classroom as well.

    Michelle Gregory

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    1. Michelle,
      Anticipating problems is a great way to offset some of the potential problems with blogging. Depending on the blog hosting site used, there are definitely different privacy settings and comment/post approval settings that the teacher can use. I love all of your suggestions for ways to use blogs as well. It's not only a great tool for the teacher to track students' writing skills and a fun way for students to write, but it's also an easy way to share with parents how their students are progressing. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. One of the challenges that comes to mind is privacy issues. This is pertinent for all things, but blogs usually have a very personal aspect to them, one way or another. Because if the students were writing something non-personal, like how-tos for example, they would probably not use a blog to do so. They'd use Squidoo or Hubpages or About. The teacher would definitely have to do a lot of scaffolding and editing before allowing the students independent work. Like Michelle said, students need to know what is and isn't appropriate to post on their blog or a class blog. And maybe parents of younger students wouldn't like or enjoy their children out on the web on display to the public. So the teacher would have to communicate with the parents and the administration of the school before committing to a blogging project. Also, the teacher would need to know the basics of blogging, so they could set privacy settings to suit the project. I believe there are actually encapsulated classroom blog software out there already, although I would have to look them up.

    However, blogging is a great way to get students to work on both their technical skills with the computer as well as their reading, writing and comprehension skills. And, of course, their netiquette.

    In another class, we were actually presented with a computerless-blog idea. Basically, it takes the idea of a blog but uses papers instead. I think that would be a great way to introduce students to the idea of blogging and give them practice before actually introducing them to the computerized version. Then they are not trying to do too many new things at once, and they can focus on a few skills at a time without getting too frustrated.

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    1. Erin, All of those concerns are very real when trying to implement a blog in the classroom. I love that you pointed out how important it is for teachers to take steps in teaching students proper netiquette, making sure the appropriate privacy settings are being used, and communicating with both administration and parents. It's definitely a good idea before using a blog to be sure the school actually allows it, and I'm sure parents would love to hear about how you plan to protect their student's privacy. Something I had thought about while researching was maybe using pseudonyms for each student's blog. It could be fun for the students to come up with their own pseudonyms, and it could also be a good way to take some of the privacy concerns out of the situation. Paper blogging sounds like a fantastic first step too! Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Anytime we approach something new as educators we are going to be faced with possible complications. Some complications that come to mind are of course privacy settings and teacher education. I think in order to incorporate something like this, teachers should be trained in regards to acceptable use and possible implications. Training would better prepare teachers to address possible issues proactively. However, despite those possible complications I think blogging can be a creative addition to the classroom. As ideas get more complex, I thing it would be interesting to give students a different avenue of expression in regards to what they are learning or what is going on in the world. In addition, it would help students practice necessary skills such as proofreading and comprehension. Thus, I would utilize this outside of the box approach in my classroom.

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    1. Kindra, Teacher education in blogging is crucial to its successful and safe implementation. It would great if schools decided to incorporate training on acceptable use and things to look out for while creating and using a blog. Perhaps with attention growing on the effectiveness of blogging in the classroom, this might become a higher priority on schools' lists when it comes to professional development. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. As I was typing my response to this blog and I clicked the "publish" button, I found that my comments did not appear and all was lost. I now have a new revelation and understanding for the "potential problems" that may be encountered when using this form of technology in the classroom. :)
    I think that blogging is relevant and will intrigue most students as a way of communication. I know that in my classroom there are a handful of students in each class that do not have smart phones or internet access at home, and sometimes access in general can be a barrier. I feel that when students are writing something that will be published on the internet they are more careful and thoughtful in what they write. This is a very positive outcome of using this technique and, as you mentioned, it causes the writer to think about his or her potential audience. This is a technique I have been hesitant to implement, due to logistics and lack of resources, but this blog has motivated me to take the leap because of the long-term benefits for students and teachers. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Lindsey,
      Unfortunately, you bring up one of the hardest obstacles in blogging to conquer. When students don't have access at home, it certainly presents a bigger challenge in creating and using blogs. When access is limited at school on top of that, blogging can seem impossible. In cases like this, I wonder if perhaps something like the paper blogging that Erin mentioned above might be helpful to incorporate the benefits of blogging into the classroom. It could always be something that is part of a writing workshop or a small group time too where maybe not all of the students need access to a computer at once. Thanks for bringing up this point! It's a very real obstacle that each of us may encounter!

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  6. Blogging can be an effective tool in the classroom. There are many benefits to blogging, but there are some drawbacks to blogging. One that I think of off the top of my head is the continuation of blogging. For the first few weeks, everyone will be very adamant to remember to blog and critically think. After a while, however, some students may get tired of blogging and won't put the effort into it like they use to, or they may forget to blog if the teacher assigned them to blog for homework. Another problem I see is that creating a blog is probably easy, as Carolyn said above, and can be created in 10 minutes. I would think that some students would want to create more complex blogs, and put extra time in creating one, and make a very complex blog. This can make the student think that since their blog is not as simple as others, that they are on a higher level than the other students. Some students may blog about general subjects and ideas, while others might blog about more private subjects and ideas, which can cause a problem. I would consider using blogging in my classroom because it would be an effective tool to make the students critically think and type about things they want to type about. Blogging is like a public journal, and having students write a few times a week by blogging can increase their writing skills, social skills, and allows for a small break from the regular style of teaching and learning. Blogging will be kept in my mind to use in the classroom and I think that it is a beneficial tool to use.

    Philip Calcagno

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    1. Philip,
      I think your point about wondering what might happen to the blog after the first few weeks is very valid. In situations like this, I think it's important for the teacher to find new ways for students to use their blogs (different types of posts, different prompts, different formats, etc.) so that the excitement doesn't wear off. The content of blogging is another very real concern for teachers. Someone above mentioned the possibility of changing settings so that a teacher must approve a post before it can be published. If this is a possibility, I think that could definitely help with the issue of students writing things that are too personal. You've laid out some great points about the potential problems a teacher might face in blogging. Thanks for commenting!

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  7. I had the same problem as Lindsey when I went to publish my comment, it never showed up so this is one of the possible problems with blogging. Blogging is a form of technology, so there could always be technology problems like glitches or no internet. The students also need to understand their is an editing process to do before just publishing thoughts in a blog.
    I can see myself using blogging in my future classroom depending on the age of my class and their technological skills. I think the younger students would get more benefits from commenting on a blog rather than making their own. Fourth graders would be able to make their own blog and add to it through editing and looking at peers blogs to learn about other's opinions.
    Ally Figura

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    1. Ally,
      I had the same problem myself the first time I tried to comment! This just reminded me of how important it is for teachers to try out the technology they are using with their students and model the steps in effectively using whatever program/site/equipment they have before releasing the students to work with these things on their own. I also love that you brought up the use of blogging with different age groups. I think that's a great point to consider. Blogging can be used with a variety of different grade levels, but it may need to be adapted depending on the skill level of the group you're working with. Thanks for commenting!

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  8. One issue that may arise in the creation of a blog could possibly be the lack of motivation from the students. The teacher would need to be positive and show interest for it to work well. I know that it is common for a lot of teachers incorporate written journals from their students in the classroom. I have read a lot about keeping a daily journal and the benefits that has for people. I think that integrating a classroom blog is a fantastic idea. I believe it is a fun way for the students to express themselves and show a different side to what we may not see in the classroom. A lot of students already enjoy expressing themselves via facebook, instagram, etc. This would be another way to have a written version and consolidate their knowledge and individuality.

    -Kelsey Holland

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    1. Kelsey,
      I love the connection you made between social media and blogging in the classroom. I totally agree that it could be a a fun way to get students engaged with each other in a format similar to the ones they are already using outside of class. It's a great way to align student interest with the curriculum. Thanks for commenting!

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  9. The potential concern that I could see arise in classroom blogging would be dealing with technical issues. All forms of technology are not perfect, and that includes computers, their servers, and even the blog sites. All forms of technology are prone to error. There may be a day when the blog site is under construction or the school computer server is down; you’d have to be prepared to have a back-up plan to continue on with your lesson.
    In regards to implanting blogging within my own classroom, I would be open to the idea. Before reading this article, blogging never crossed my mind as a beneficial form of teaching a lesson plan. What Ashley stated, that blogging has shown to be effective in helping students with comprehension and writing, is an important thing to consider when using blogging in the classroom. You have to see the positive effects it’ll bring your students. Also, blogging would help form students’ communication skills – in which case, communication is an essential skill to have.

    Michelle C.

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    1. Michelle,
      You've brought up a very important thing to remember when blogging. Having a back-up plan is crucial when dealing with something that uses technology. As you said, servers might be down or the computers might not be working, and without a back-up plan, a teacher would be in a real jam. Thanks for commenting!

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  10. I think there could be some difficulty in the willingness of some students to express their thoughts if they’re aware that those thoughts will be read by all of their classmates. But more importantly, if a classroom blog has been created on a public site, then privacy becomes a greater issue. Even if protective measures have been taken, the blog may remain in some cache system long after students have left the class. It would also be crucial for teachers to encourage students to post constructive comments and/or respectful feedback. Appropriate classroom behavior should extend to a blog interaction too. That said, I would most likely implement an exercise in classroom blogging with either younger or upper elementary students. Although some kids may be apprehensive about blogging, it may motivate others to participate in that type of classroom discussion when they wouldn’t otherwise. And it would offer an alternative opportunity to practice composition and editing skills.
    Tina Carter

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    1. I like how you brought up the idea of privacy. That is something that has tripped me up as well. However, districts have privacy and technology policies. At my school, all students must have a release form signed saying that it's okay for them to be in pictures, use the internet, etc. That is definitely something that would have to be checked at your school though.

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  11. As others have said, when you implement anything new challenges will arise. Depending on where you are teaching, like Lindsey is facing, students may not have smart phones or access to Internet at home. I don't think this is a reason to not try it though. As teachers we need to figure out ways to help students with these issues and make sure they have the opportunity to learn about certain technology they may not otherwise have access to.

    Another challenge I thought of was the public aspect of blogs. I don't know a whole lot about blogging, but it seems that anyone can find a blog and see what is being posted. This also gives access to students names. I would hope there are privacy settings that could help with that. Again, that wouldn't be a reason not to try it, because I think that is a good opportunity to talk about Internet safety and how to use blogs effectively.

    Thanks for the great info!

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    1. I totally agree that we should be helping students learn to use technological tools, especially when they don't have access to these at home. It becomes almost more crucial for them to have the time to explore and work with technology at school. That was a great point!

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  12. Everyone has add great comments/ideas to this blog; there is not much more I can add besides parents not wanting their child to be posting on the internet for multiply reasons. If I were to implement blogging into my classroom, I would first make sure my administrators are aware. Then I would communicate with the parents about the benefits and how students will be participating in this activity. I might even have parents sign a permission slip allow their child to partake in this activity depending on the age group. I would also have an alternative submission to the assignment for students who could not blog for what ever reason.

    Over all, I have to say I'm all in for blogging and empowering student to voice out their thoughts.

    Yanira

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    1. Most districts already have this in place, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure before you start blogging. I also think that communicating with parents before you start is a great idea. They are always more open to ideas when we communicate with them ahead of time and let them know what is going on and the benefits of it. Great thoughts!

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  13. I have taken classes where teachers have had us blog and as a student I really enjoyed them. I believe they are an excellent way to express your ideas and learn about your classmates unique perspectives. I definitely think that they are most effective when the teacher poses the topic or question in a broad and open ended manner so that there are not 25 of the same responses. As others have stated there is always a privacy concern when publishing anything online and it is important that precautions are taken before having students in your class post. However I believe, that if implemented in the correct manner, blogs can be very beneficial for today's students.
    Ali Mackenzie

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    1. I like your point on learning about your classmates. So often we have no idea who the people are that sit next to us every week for a semester(s). Blogging is a wonderful way to start getting to know others and the unique perspectives really take learning to another level. The higher order thinking is crucial and makes for a deeper understanding.

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  14. I totally agree with the arguments presented by Carolyn and Ashley in favor of blogging. Today’s teachers need to be familiarized with new technologies to be able to interact effectively with their students. Blogging can be used as a way to extent a classroom discussion and to keep students interested in the subject. I think that the main reason why many teachers are unwilling to use this technology is because they are unfamiliar with it. Learning a new technology for the benefit of their students is something that every teacher needs to do. Today’s students interact among themselves by using technology, and teachers need to learn these technologies to have a better communication and understanding with their students. Blogging is definitely one way of achieving this.

    - Pio Gasca

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    1. I would totally agree that many teachers don't use blogging because they are unfamiliar with it. I also think that since teachers don't know much about it, they don't see the benefits of it. Teachers absolutely need to start communicating in ways students' do, just as we ask students to communicate the way we want them to. To keep our students vested and involved, we must give and take. This will help them to get the most out of their education.

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  15. One of the issues could be privacy. When student's put their writing out for the public to see that have to be aware that what they write can be seen by everyone and anything posted on the internet is there forever. It can be challenging to implement classroom blogging if not all students have computers or access to the internet at home. A solution would be for students to blog during class time.

    I would like to implement blogging into my classroom. It would give students an opportunity to write freely and not feel judge by the teacher; however, there could be competition within the students on who's blog is most popular. I think as long as expectations are established blogging would be great in the classroom.

    -Monisha Slater

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    1. I like your thought that this should be done during class time. I would say that it depends on the age of student, but this is something I would use within my classroom. That way I would be there to help them through any problems that arise during the process. However, I do believe that people perform to the level we set for them. If we micromanage our students, they will never learn and display internet safety. It is our job to teach them how to be responsible and the consequences if they are not. I agree that expectations would have to be clear and established for blogging to work seamlessly.

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  16. As more schools and school districts are implementing 1:1 technology initiatives and using technology to supplement learning, it is critical that educators find creative and innovative ways to promote learning. While I have embraced using technology, there are certain elements that I am not so confident using. Blogs are one of them. However, after reading the benefits and ease of using blogs that were expressed by Ashley and Caroline, I find myself more confident and willing to use blogs in the classroom. One difficulty that concerned me was the startup process and how that would take place with primary students and students with special needs. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that effective and proper modeling can alleviate any problems associated with the initial lessons implementing blogs. Caroline also commented that creating and using blogs are easier than most people think. Blogging supports learning in various ways. Ashley highlighted this fact as she discussed how blogs improve many of the skills associated with reading and writing. Caroline and Ashley gave compelling evidence to the benefits of blogs, and I would like to try and incorporate them into my future classroom. Educators should embrace technology as it is relevant for our students and has great importance in their lives. Technology has many ways to increase learning while making it fun, and a blog is one of those ways.

    -Andy

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  17. I have no idea how to create a blog, which is my first concern about implementing blogging into my classroom. However, it was encouraging to hear that Carolyn was able to create a blog in just ten minutes. The other potential issue about blogging is that all of my students would need to have access to technology for assignments. One way to address this would be to have blogging during class time. Not only would this ensure that students have access to the tools they need, but you could troubleshoot with them if any issues come up and monitor the content of their posts and comments before they are published.

    How do we keep students from getting bored with blogging or seeing it as a chore? Phillip mentioned this in his comment, and I would like to offer a possible solution. I think the content of the blog would be a big motivational factor in student participation. They could blog about topics that they pick (with your approval). Another idea is that they could use the blog to get to know each other. Students could take turns writing about themselves and their favorite things. Many teachers at the primary level have an "All About Me" bulletin board, and it would be fun to use the blog for this purpose. Making the class blog about the students would motivate them to participate and build a positive class community.

    There are benefits to blogging that I had not thought about that would encourage me to incorporate it into my classroom. Blogging improves writing by developing good habits, such as making students aware of their audience and encouraging regular writing practice. Thank you for sharing!

    -Trang Bui

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  18. I agree with what Shelby said, Blogging can be difficult when you first try it. Once you get the hang of it that's when it becomes effective. Some teachers don’t like taking the time to research how to use blogging in their lessons and part of that is because they aren’t fluent in technology.
    I have seen blogging used as a morning exercise where the student response to a teacher’s post. You can do this with an actual blogging site or as an in class writing activity. This gives student’s an opportunity to voice/express their opinion about a topic or math problem. I remember using blogging in my high school English literature class. The teacher would respond to our post and provide feedback. Instead of getting a grade we got participation points for our post. I remember enjoying this because I was able to express myself privately.

    Ashley pointed out that blogging can be associated with reading and writing which is proof that it can make an impact on how your students can learn in your classroom. I know that I will be using blogging in my classroom and I want my students to be able to use their phones or their tablets when blogging. The goal is for them to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions as well as develop ways to communicate with me and their peers.


    Britney Williams-Bey

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  19. One of the concerns that I would have would be that students from low income districts might not have access either in the classroom or at home. However, I would not let that stop me. Personally I do not think that I would face obstacles that I couldn't address. I think for the lower grades this would be a good chance to teach about computer use, and include NetSmartz lessons.

    I would like to teach grades 1-3 and I can only imagine how adorable first graders would look blogging. Aside from the cute factor, I believe that blogs give students choice for response, and it gives teachers yet another method to assess student learning. Blogging also builds community in the classroom. Although blogs are online, they are great for flipping the classroom, which means that the content is still discussed in class. By using blogs each student still has a voice even if they are shy.Just as we are doing on this blog students can agree and disagree with each other, just like in the classroom.I believe that the benefits prove that blogging is a great tool to incorporate into the classroom at any level.

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  20. Bluehost is ultimately the best hosting company with plans for any hosting requirments.

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