Monday, 14 January 2013

Getting Excited about Student Blogging

I only started blogging roughly five months ago.  I often have trouble writing my posts for a couple of reasons.  I have trouble finding the time to actually physically type my thoughts.  I do a lot of thinking, and while I am thinking I often compose a post in my mind, but it doesn't usually make it to the computer.  Secondly, I also wonder if anything I have to say is "smart" I take the chicken's way out and just don't publish anything.

Despite being new to blogging, I am quickly falling in love with it.  I see the value in sharing ideas and having discussion, asynchronously.  And I want my students to do it too.  I jumped in head first, without much pedagogical thought.  My grade 12 history class is composing a blog post for their culminating task and on exam day, they will respond to two of their classmates' posts.  (We have a common blog and everyone is a contributor.)  So far I love the assignment...but I should have been having the students blog and respond to others' blogs throughout the semester.  And I should have known school does A LOT of work on backward design.  (I will forgive myself...this is my first time teaching the course and halfway through I decided I didn't like the culminating task and changed it.)

Today I had my students read and respond to blog posts from Lisa Unger's (@l_unger) grade ten history class.  Peter Skillen (@peterskillen) and Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry) provided me with some great resources for responding to blog posts and my students used these resources well, as evidenced by their responses.  You can access the resources here and here. I took time to read the grade ten posts and my students' responses.  I was wildly impressed.  My students' responses were often thought provoking by offering opposing viewpoints with evidence.  They also asked the grade ten students interesting questions to further their thinking.  Furthermore, I really liked that I could give my grade twelves feedback so easily by simply responding to their comments on the blog posts.

My foray into student blogging (thanks to Lisa's encouragement) will be continued next semester, as I plan on having two of my three classes blog throughout the semester.  Wish me luck!!