Blogging is a wonderful resource that can be used in any classroom. According to a post on Stephen Downe’s blog, Stephen’s Web, he advises people to turn to Rodolpho Arruda. Arruda offers several reasons why people should blog. The important two that relate to education are blogs can “activate students can intensify their learning spiral” and it “forces you to do your homework.” As an educator, it is important to find different ways to motivate students. A blog could be a wonderful way to not have your students just take notes, do worksheets, or read silently. Instead, blogs can do just the opposite and require students to think harder, participate more, and become part of a different learning environment. A student who was once the “shy student” might feel more comfortable sharing with the class through a blog versus in the classroom. Hopefully, more students would come out of their shell by using a blog.
When trying to think of other ways to incorporate a blog into a classroom, I found a great list of ideas at Web 2.0 in the Classroom. From their list, the easiest ways to use a blog could be for missed assignments for absent students or for classroom information. Many teachers are scared to take on any more work. I think once they figure out that a blog could be helpful and not hurtful they all will want to use one! Professional development would have to be done to encourage teachers to try blogs. It would need to be kept simple to not overwhelm anyone! I think that one easy way to have teachers use blogs, that could easily be a beginning of the year professional development, is to encourage every teacher to set up a blog to have the nightly homework on it. This would make them be accountable for the blog, since parents would be given the information for it, and would help the parents out at the same time! We often do book studies as a staff at Allenwood. Instead of having to sit in the media center for 45 minutes a couple of afternoons a month to discuss the book, teachers could blog and have discussions on the book, much like the Modern American Literature students at Hunterdon Central Regional High School did with the Secret Life of Bees.
Let’s Play Math – Let’s Play Math is a blog created by a home school parent for other home school parents. Denise, the blog moderator, wanted to have a place for home school parents and students to be able to “see the variety and richness of the subject.” There was a variety of information on the blog. She blogs every couple of days and some days are definitely more useful for teachers looking for resources and ideas. Some examples of posts that I thought would be helpful for a math teacher are “20+ Things to do with a Hundred Chart” and “Quiz: Those Frustrating Fractions .” We often used hundreds chart to teach patterns and this just shows that there is so much more than you can do with it! I know from experience that many students have trouble with fractions and according to this post, so do “five out of four.” 🙂
Although the most recent entries on her blog were not that helpful, I did go through her older post which had lots of good information. She offers many tips but the most helpful part of the entire blog was “Free (Mostly) Math Resources. When I was in the classroom, my teammates and I were always searching for good worksheets to use with our students. What more could a teacher want than three years worth of daily math review for grades 6, 7, and 8 with the ansrs!
The Little Art Teacher – All teachers in Prince George’s County are responsible for giving their students art grades. We have an art teacher that comes to my school once a quarter and meets with the classes once each visit. When I was in the classroom, we tried different ways to incorporate art through the different subjects, something which this blog does. Becca Ruth is the writer for this blog and according to the “About Me” section, she feels that teachers can learn from each other and “steal” ideas from each other. Although she does not blog that often, the ideas she has on her blog could last an entire school year. Each post has a different art project and photographs so teachers can see exactly what she is talking about! The blog also includes a Topics menu, where someone can just click on one of the topics and view the posts related to that one topic. I chose “Crayons,” mainly because we always have plenty of those at school, and looked through the four different lessons she had using crayons. This is a great way to be able to find exactly what you are looking for. I hope to share this blog with my fellow teachers next year at the beginning of school so that they can get more ideas of how to incorporate art into the classroom.
Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog – The main reason that I really liked Mrs. Cassidy’s blog was I felt like it gave her a chance to reflect on her lessons and her class. It also showed parents exactly what goes on in the classroom. Not only did she include photographs but she also included videos. It was obvious that she has students use the technology from the Butterfly Cam entry, where her students narrated the video on butterflies. There was also a link to each of her student’s blog, where they had captions for pictures they had drawn, videos, and voice recordings on it. This blog just shows me how much more I could have done when I was a classroom teacher. I hate it because it makes me feel like I let my students down by not going one extra step and doing projects like these. I hope that through the remainder of this course, I step it up and make big plans for next year!