Tag Archives: blogging

Using Blogs in Class – AP Art History

This year, I have been introducing blogging in my classes (to varying degrees). I have written on them several times in my previous posts: “First Week Using Class Blogs,” “Update on Blogging in the Class Part 2,” and “Update on Using Class Blogs.”

I have three preps and five classes: Ancient/Medieval History (9th grade), College Prep United States History (11th & 12th grade), and AP Art History (11th & 12th grade). This is my first year teaching AP Art History. I have taught Art History I and Art History II at the college level, as well as several advanced Art History Courses (Greek Art & Archaeology, Mediterranean Art History, Roman Art & Archaeology, etc). However, this is my first AP. Trinity Valley has done a fabulous job of providing me ample professional development – including sending me to the AP National Conference in San Francisco where I was able to meet with several colleague and gain numerous resources.

My students in AP Art History are phenomenal – often demonstrating more academic sophistication and thought than any of the college students I have taught in the past. Today, they presented their first significant project that was in two parts – an oral and a written component. It required that they do a bit of independent research and present a formal topic to their classmates. My intention with this assignment is to: further provide them with a visual catalogue, encourage them to develop their observation and analytical skills, and to further develop their writing skills in association with Art and Art Historical topics.

Here were the formal instructions:

Instructions: Select one image from either Chapter 3 or 4 (only one student may do each image, first call first serve).

Written Portion:

  • On the Class Blog Write the Title of the Work, Artist, and Date
  • Write a brief physical description of the image
  • Write a brief description of the image‚Äôs historical and social context
  • Minimum 100 words
  • Spelling & Grammar Count
  • Include a brief Works Cited at the end (MLA format), you should include at least 2 sources (including your textbook)
  • Be sure to put your name in the Tag

Oral Portion:

  • One Power Point Slide
  • Include a copy of the image
  • Include the Title of the Work, Artist, and Date
  • Indicate three principles of design
  • Prepare a two minute (minimum) discussion of the piece, its significance, and its history (this information should not be written on the slide).
  • Save the PowerPoint in DropBox at TVS Art History Share –> Student Projects –> Project 2.Last Name.ppt

The oral presentations today were clearly well prepared and researched. I was blown away. It was obvious that every single student put serious thought and effort into their project. While a few students brought up a couple of notes with them to reference (nothing was written out), they were clearly presenting “off the cuff,” having internalized a majority (if not all) of the information. I’m including a copy of one of the slides here:

Here was the student’s accompanied blog post – a well thought out, solidly researched, and concise description and contextual analysis.

Here is another post from a student (clearly much longer than assigned) as well as a comment by a classmate:

I have been struggling with how to use the class blog for my AP Art History class, but I am liking this format. It makes the information readily available to students and it will be there in the future for them all to access and assess (in abbreviated form and more comprehensible verbiage than a formal textbook). I am also leaving all of the PowerPoint slides from the presentations up on DropBox for the year so that they have this visual catalogue available to them when it comes time to study for the AP exam (for more on DropBox, see my post “DropBox – An Excellent and Free Resource for Educators“).

I would love any input or thoughts from educators or students here. Do you think that this is effective? Suggestions on how to improve it? General comments?

Update on Using Class Blogs

Last week, I missed a few days of class as the killer strep throat I had contracted was virulent and spread – becoming walking pneumonia. As such, I gave my students a blog assignment to do ‘in class’ on the French and Indian War. I planned for the assignment to take all of class time (anything not completed to be finished at home). The assignment was as follows:

  • How did the French and the English use Native Americans as “weapons” during the French and Indian War. Answer should be in full sentences, using specific examples, a minimum of 100 words, a minimum of two sources cited (MLA format).

I was quite surprised at the work they turned in, well thought out and reasoned responses and included their citations. I also offered them extra credit for commenting on their classmates’ work, but did not get any takers. This is my US History class (Juniors and Seniors) who are more reluctant to use technology. I’m including a couple of examples here. There are a couple of typos, but overall solid work for a one day assignment for a homework grade.

Six Reasons Why Kids Should Know How to Blog (via Mindshift)

Today, Mindshift highlight’s 6 reasons why kids should blog. To read the full article, see this link.

The abbreviated reasons:

  1. Communicating with Digital Tools
  2. Transparency for Parents and Family
  3. New Ways of Thinking About Web Tools
  4. Effective Digital Citizenship
  5. Creating Positive Digital Footprints
  6. Pride in their Work

It’s a great article!

Update on Blogging in Class Part 2

I apologize for the unannounced hiatus. I came down with a nasty bout of strep throat. If you have never had strep throat, it feels like you have taken a bunch of nails and broken glass, covered it with Tobasco, and then swallowed it… repeatedly. So I have been down for the count for a couple of days. So, I have gotten a bit behind. However, my students are still hard at work. This is an overdue update on using Blogs in class. I originally wrote up this idea in “Blogging in the Classroom” and provided my first update in “First Week Using Class Blogs.”

For my 9th grade students, I have them do a weekly “Current Events in History.” They are to go out and find a story on an historical topic – new archaeological finds, fights over ownership of antiquities, looting stories, etc. The rule is that it must be historical and related to humans (so no dinosaurs or geography). They then summarize the article and do an in-class presentation. It teaches them to do their own research, how to summarize information, exercise basic writing skills, and to develop their public speaking. These are all abilities that they will need in college as well as in the ‘real world.’ Instead of handing in the written summary, I have decided that they will post them on the blog. Additionally, I provide up to ten points of extra credit if they follow up with meaningful comments on each other’s work.

Some students have posted some amazing tidbits and thoughtful follow up. Here is a great story from one of my students about a gold find in an Indian Temple:

And here are some great and thoughtful comments:

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.