I shared some of my initial difficulties with getting middle schoolers to blog in authentic, meaningful ways, not just to complete the required 2 posts and 2 comments, which was typically the way of my assignments, but to get them to think deeply about what they were reading and to give their peers constructive responses.
I believe that there’s value and learning in blogging that doesn’t happen as readily or immediately with other kinds of writing. I really liked Kevin’s post about “Social Constructionist” nature of blogs. In it, he writes, “blogging allows students to construct various social “artifacts” (textual, pictorial, video, etc.) that help them learn and influence culture, both in- and outside of the classroom. In addition, the social nature of blogging is constructivist in approach, meaning that, as students interact, they are influenced by their interactions, with and without the teacher.” I agree, but I wasn’t convinced that I was setting up my blogs in the best way to help students construct thought through their reading and writing of blog posts.
I then came across this blog post by Mark Sample from The Humanities and Technology Camp, which bills itself as a non-conference (open-source, but in the real world!). In it, he shares what he’s had students do with blogs, methods that he’s tired of but that sound pretty interesting to me, where he varies the structure, roles and/or rhythms of his class blogs. His goal, one that resonates with me, is to “have students blog and make it worth their while and ours too.”
He then opens up the discussion to others and includes the collaborative notes. All very helpful. I’m saving Sample’s post for my next classroom blog.
Image by Kristina B, CC License