Monday, May 23, 2011

Blogging in the Classroom

This is my professional blog.  I created it using Blogspot, Google's blog hosting site, because I had completely run out of bandwidth (storage) on my Google hosted website, http://www.hellofirstgrade.com/.  I had quite a few followers on that site, and was really looking for a forum through which I could continue to share ideas and best practices in literacy.There are blogs about many kinds of things: hiking,  cooking, Montessori Moms and spirituality, to name a few.  (If you're still asking yourself, "What is a Blog?"- click here to view many different and varied answers to that question.)  Now with a blog, I don't worry anymore about not having enough space for sharing my stuff because there are plenty of free storage sites on the Internet now...two of my personal favorites are Google Docs and Dropbox.  The blogs I follow are in the right sidebar...besides Twitter, that offers a vast amount of information in a short amount of space and time, I generally follow the blogs of other teachers and educationalists that have the same interests as myself.  The following slideshow features many of the benefits of blogging. One of the things I love so much about blogging is that I don't have to re-invent the wheel, but I can find resources, share and link them with others that have created and shared before me using blogging tools like Slideshare and YouTube...and giving proper attribution, of course.
Student blogs are trickier to accomplish in elementary school with privacy issues, parent permission issues and student email address issues.  However, there is a way around it to protect student privacy. Using my iPhone4, I recorded Dawn Reynolds, a 2nd grade teacher at my school,  talking about how her students use blogging instead of morning work to write, read and respond to each other's lives and activities. I uploaded the video straight to YouTube, and here is what she had to say about her classroom blog.




As the students were working in the classroom this morning before the bell rang, I captured a few images of them blogging, it's one of the stations on the Morning Menu.


 Although every student in WCPSS has an assigned @wcpss.net email address, they are lengthy and difficult for students to remember.  So Mrs. Reynolds assigns each student a number (user 14 below) and for the "Email (required)" field, she has taught the students to enter lm@lm.com. This blog program does not seem to care that it's not a goodaddress but that it simply has an @ sign and .com in it.  It's difficult to read, but this student user is responding to Mrs. Reynold's prompt of "Tell us about your trackout" and has written the following so far..."what i did over track out was i was trying responsibility but my (brother....." so I guess you have to tune into Mrs. Reynold's class blog to read about what he did to try responsibility. 



The other type of educational blogs are classroom blogs by teachers for parents, sort of an ongoing, interactive, up to date digital newsletter of events, lessons and activities happening in the classroom.  It's certainly a great way to save trees and I've heard parents tell me, "I really feel like I'm there with my child and when she tells me about the activity with the clickers, or the frogs, or whatever, I know exactly what she's talking about."  One of my favorite classroom blogs for parents (and for other teachers to get ideas) is Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Blog.
Screenshot image captured using Jing

The one thing I have learned in the last 24 hours about blogging it that, like writing and composing, there is a process.  The blogging process has more digital and social components, and the cycle is best displayed in the graphic image below, definitely a nice "behind-the-scenes" look at what teachers must think about before diving into classroom blogging. 

Image courtesy of Rachel Boyd & Tania O'Meagher



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