First Week Using Class Blogs

This year, I have instituted a mass experiment of blogging in the classroom. I introduced this in an earlier post: “Blogging in the Classroom.” Instead of the students handing in answers to various questions, I asked that they post their answers on the class blog. Next, I offered them the potential for extra credit – they could get a few bonus points if they read and responded meaningfully to a classmate’s blog post.

I have set up a class blog in all five of my classes: three ninth grade history courses on Ancient History, one US History (11/12th grade), and an AP Art History (11/12th grade). They all have a little bit of a different focus. For example, for AP Art History, it’s more of a tool/resource for the kids to have moderated discussions on topics that interest them. My freshmen have a more formal environment with specific assignments. My Juniors/Seniors in US History fall somewhere in between.

This is the first time that I have instituted this process and I’m fully expecting some bumps and draw-backs along the way (and have already experienced a few). I also have some amazing colleagues that have agreed to become members of the blog to provide their own thoughts and reflections on the process- sharing their insight (much thanks Gail, Karen, and Paul).

Last week, we all sat down in the computer lab and dealt with the technical difficulties, addressed confusions (that some students had), and let them do their assignments hands-on. First period, the students got the information very quickly – they became excited, I heard and saw them help one another, and most of them finished their homework assignment in class. When I walked into my third class of the day (the one right before lunch), I found only three students in the classroom. We walked over to the lab to find all of the other kiddos sitting at the computers waiting, they said “We heard from the other classes that we were in here and doing something really cool!” For the second day in a row, I had students who, when the lunch-bell rang, had not yet packed up their books or notebooks and weren’t eager to leave to ‘beat the lunch-line.’ It was a great experience! I’m attaching a copy here (names blocked out) of an example of one student’s post to the questions as well as a classmate’s response:

Now, just so I am not accused of being too polly-anna-ish, it wasn’t all fun and games and amazing buy-in. I certainly had students who thought that blogging was ‘stupid’ or wanted to submit their work hand-written. Some were readily distracted by easy access to sports scores or the recent unblocking of Facebook and Twitter. There were certainly some bumps and some ways that I will make changes as I go forward. However, as a first time out, I was pretty happy with the results.

17 thoughts on “First Week Using Class Blogs

  1. Pingback: First Week Using Class Blogs | Γονείς σε Δράση

  2. Tim Freud

    This is really great. And what a thoughtful post from your student!

    I’m shocked to hear that some students didn’t want to use technology and actually do handwritten work instead. I have a feeling that these students just might be anti-everything though. “We have to have fun in class? This sucks.”

    Cool stuff, Hot Locketts.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      I think that some were just hesitant to put in the initial effort that is required in learning a new platform. As teens, they’re not always able to delay gratification (10 extra minute snow, or 1 extra hour later?).
      Overall, most of the kids were pretty excited about the new technology. I’m just hoping that the enthusiasm continues when the novelty wears off…

  3. norm

    Might be the ones who did not want to go the cyber route, is that their work becomes public as far as the classroom goes. Their peers can see how developed their language skills are and they might not like that being common information to all.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Certainly a possibility. However, this is an academic secular school. The students are all quite academically advanced. Many of them write better than my college students ever did. Plus, we do group critiques on one another’s work – which does include sharing their work with classmates. They dot object to that.
      Still. It is a possibility and something to keep in mind.

  4. stumdanger

    The biggest advantage to a set up like this is that it is something that actually prepares the student for college, especially if they do not go the traditional brick-and-mortar route. This set up is similar to how every online college I’ve experienced has been set up. If you were to incorporate one of the major writing styles (MLA, APA, or Chicago), they get more practice in written communication (something which the texting generation sorely needs) and are being set up for success in continuing their education outside of high school. Great job on actually preparing your students for the next level.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Even in the ‘traditional’ college model, online education is becoming more and more common-place – especially for your base level classes. As enrollment sky-rockets and space dwindles, many students get their lectures online or via college television and are expected to participate in discussions and submit homework online. This is true even in those classes you would not expect – like Physics or Biology! My friend’s oldest son just completed his first year in an Engineering program at UT. All of his Physics assignments were constructed and completed via the internet. I was a little shocked by that!

      Thanks for the support and your contributions. I will say that when we get to their writing projects (they do research papers for me), they must you formalized citation and format (MLA). I’ll admit that I am quite lucky as our lower and middle schools do an amazing job preparing them for the High School. I don’t have to teach them the basics of writing – they understand grammar, paragraphs, introductions, and conclusions. I’m a bit spoiled 😉

  5. Karen A.

    I’m very excited that you are incorporating the blog into your class. Judging from the comments and posts you shared, I think the students are making meaningful contributions. You’re always going to have a few that are reluctant but I would be willing to bet that they’ll want to join in as they see their peers’ posts. How exciting to discover that students headed for the computer lab instead of going to your classroom!

  6. Jamin Wells

    This is fantastic! I’ve been looking into incorporating blogging into my classes — Thanks for posting and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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