Better Student Blogging

blogI 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.

Marissa Dietrich

Image by Kristina B, CC License

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Dogfooding? Yes.

One of the ed blogs I read, “Cult of PedagogyScreen Shot 2015-06-11 at 12.55.23 AM,” by Jennifer Gonzalez, regularly touches on straightforward ways to incorporate tech to modify and redefine the tasks our students do.  In a recent blog, she imported a term from software development lingo to apply to teaching practice and preparation:  dogfooding.  Do you dogfood? Regularly?

According to the article, dogfooding “refers to the act of using your own product as a consumer in order to work out its glitches, the metaphorical equivalent of ‘eating your own dog food.'” it goes on to say that when developers create a new app or software, they load it on to their own device to test its functionality as a user would.

She recommends that teachers incorporate dogfooding into their instructional design, that actually doing what we ask our students to do, from start to finish, is enlightening.  I would think this is especially true for tech that we ask them to use.

I would often complete the work I asked my students to do, but when I got too busy, I often skipped this step.  What about other teachers?  Do you try to follow your directions through your students’ eyes?  Complete projects that you ask them to do?  What do you think?

You can read the full post here.

Marissa Dietrich

Photo by Lou Ann Snawder, CC License here.