Update on Using Blogs in the Classroom

I originally posted about my desires and plans to use blogging in the classroom in my post: “Blogging in the Classroom.” I felt that this was important for my students for several reasons – the rise of blogging in college classrooms really put me over the edge. So many of my former students and colleagues (that had returned for first or additional graduate degrees) were telling me that online assignments and class blogs were becoming the norm in 21st century education. They told me that the greatest challenge for them was simply learning how to use the tools – the less exposure to computers and online tools, the steeper the curve. And of course, as many of us who have been through the college experience, know – it is a rare College Professor that will hand-hold you through the learning process, or even patiently walk you through the process. They expect you to already know it (as part of your own college preparation) or expect you to learn on your own.

I started with a simple blogging assignment that I highlighted in “First Week Using Class Blogs” and followed up on “Update on Blogging in the Class.” I teach three different levels of classes – 9th grade, 11th grade, and 12th grade. So I have geared various assignments for those skill levels. It’s been a learning process along the way and overall, I’m happy with the new addition and think that I will continue with it in the future. Out of all of my classes, I’ve found that my 9th graders have been the most excited and readily adapted to this new medium. My older students have largely been more hesitant – I’m struggling with grabbing their interest. I know that if I could get a Facebook page going, we’d be all there. ;)

With my 9th grade class, we have a weekly assignment called “Current Events in History.” They have to go out weekly and find a “historical news story.” It can be about a new book coming out, an archaeological find, the destruction of a monument in war, etc. They must prepare an oral presentation (with a PowerPoint slide) and do a summary write up for the class blog. Also, they choose the topic on a ‘first come first serve’ – that means they have to check the blog before they post to ensure that they don’t repeat a classmate’s story. Their blog post has to be at least 100 words and include the source. They seem to have really taken to this. What I have seen is that they are better at collaborating (they will tell me before I get a chance if a classmate has ‘taken’ their story), becoming better public speakers (they have 2-5 minutes of practice every week), are better ‘casual’ writers (although sometimes I have to remind them), and are becoming more adept at finding reliable resources. They can also get up to 10 points of extra credit on the assignment for commenting on a classmate’s work – still not getting a lot of collaboration there.

Here is a great example of some of their recent work:

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About Jennifer Carey

My name is Jennifer Carey and I am a student and educator of the human condition. I have long studied history, trained in archaeology, and found a passion in the field of education. As a long-time lover of technology (my father bought our family our first Apple IIe when I was three), I love technology and what it can bring to the classroom. I have taught at various Universities for many years as well as educating gifted teenagers through the Johns Hopkins program, the Center for Talented Youth. I am currently the Director of Educational Technology at the Ransom Everglades School (a secular independent school) in Miami, Fl. I also have a few educational podcasts on iTunes from my days teaching at TCU: The Ancient City of Rome, Classical Archaeology (2008), Classical Archaeology (2009), Introduction to Classical Myth, and Ancient Eats. They’re enhanced (so you get the PowerPoints along with the vocal), but please excuse the poor audio editing. Feel free to Email Me or follow me on twitter.
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3 Responses to Update on Using Blogs in the Classroom

  1. Jim Wheeler says:

    What an astounding event! Forty-two children sacrificed for spiritual purpose, or in other words, for mere imaginings. Surely this runs directly contrary to all instincts that would perpetuate the species? What does this say about the human mind, or indeed about evolution being able to shape human development? I dare say, any society which practices such rituals would hardly be long-lived! And yet, my sense of pre-Columbian New World cultures is that they were more often than not barbaric. Does this mean that the pace of evolution is faster than generally assumed, or that human intelligence (so-called) is so new in evolutionary terms that it might merely be one of those experiments doomed to failure?

    Maybe I’m making too much of an isolated incident. What do you think?

    • Jennifer Lockett says:

      Yes, child sacrifice (especially in a time where infant mortality could be as high at 40%) seems counter-interuitive but we do find it in many cultures. The Aztec, at least, sacrificed the children of *other* tribes – not generally their own. The Inca practiced it as well, but in much lower numbers. Perhaps most famously were the Carthiginians who would sacrifice the eldest males of elite families to Ba’al. In fact, Hannibal was in the first generation of young men not to undergo such a sacrifice (imagine how different history would be). Still, when the Romans were on their doorstep, they started plunging infants back into the fires…

  2. Leah Treesh says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer. Great blogging example. I found your comment on the older kids interesting, as I see a remarkable difference amongst grade levels. I am also interested in your FB comment. I may be calling on you to pilot something in the near future.

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