Can blogging be used as a learning tool?

Blogging is a way for teachers to open their classrooms to the world. It builds an online community of learners and provides real world experiences for students. It allows students to share their work with an authentic audience. Blogging is a great way for students to practice their 21st century skills necessary to become successful and productive members of society.

One example of an elementary classroom blog is “Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog: Third graders learning and sharing together” at  http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com/. This blog is a great example of how technology can be used to enhance student learning. It contains lots of videos about what the students are learning. Here is one where students share the benefits of blogging. One interesting activity I found on this blog is called Yollis’ 365 Project. Participants email Mrs. Yollis an interesting photo, with proper credit, and add a few sentences about the photo in the comments section. Participants are asked to end their post with a question to create a conversation. Each day a photo is shared on the blog page under the Class Photo-of-the-Day section. In December, Mrs. Yollis’ class participated in the global Hour of Code to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. This is the fourth year the class has participated. Mrs. Yollis tweeted about their progress and included some great information about two computer science pioneers, Ada Lovelace and Grace Harper. She even included a link to Hour of Code tutorials so students and parents could continue their exploration at home.

A great example of a middle school classroom blog is called Blockhead http://minecraft.edtecworks.com/.  This blog was created  by John Miller, a seventh grade history teacher at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City, California. He combines history, writing and Minecraft to design, develop, and implement curriculum that promotes collaborative and interactive online learning. John Miller has participated in a discussion panel at the Minecon 2016 Minecraft Convention. He talks about how he uses Minecraft to teach history. He has also recently published a book called Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids . This book connects Minecraft builds with an arts and craft activity to be completed after playing the game. It gives families an opportunity to work together and spend some quality time together. His most recent post shows a collaborate project called Momotaro-The Peach Boy. Students worked for nearly three months on this project with students in Hawaii. They created a you tube video to share their project based on the Japenese folktale about a boy born from a peach who grows up to save his village. You can watch it here.  Another interesting project Mr. Miller’s students completed  is a culminating activity for their unit on Midieval China. Students recreated the Tang Dynasty capital city of Chang’an with MindcraftEdu. You can find a detailed description of the project here. They also uploaded a you tube video of the completed project called Medieval Mannequin Challenge.

It was a challenge finding an example of a high school classroom blog. The Nerdy Teacher is a blog written by Nicholas Provenzano, an English teacher and technology curriculum specialist for Grosse Pointe Public Schools in Grosse Pointe, MI. Provenzano is a proponent of Making and Makerspaces. He even wrote a book called Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces.His blog often shows his Making projects like the NerdyPi 0 as part of his #Make 52 challenge. His goal is to “tinker”on a new project each week. One of his most interesting posts is about a project based learning activity using Snapchat. The students had been studying the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The assignment was to show events from the story from the perspective of other characters using  the My Story  feature of  Snapchat. The students were very motivated and created some great video of their snaps. Another great project was putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet. Students acted out and filmed scenes from the story. A wiki page was created to assign roles and jobs for the production. Students created blogs to post  what they learned from the project. Here is one of the student’s blogs. This project  is a great example of  student collaboration and use of technology to enhance learning.

All three blogs that I have reviewed show how teachers used blogging as a learning tool in their classrooms. Classroom blogs can be used to share classroom assignments, resources and what great learing is happening in the classroom.When students are taught the elements of blogging and given the opportunity to create their own blogs, it opens the door to the world. They have the opportunity to connect with their teacher, peers and other bloggers around the world. So how do we get teachers to give blogging a go? I think it starts with sharing great classroom blogs so they can see the the many benefits of blogging. There are also great articles and blogs that help teachers set up their own classroom blog. In the article “What are the benefits of Student Blogging,” Rochelle Dene Poth states “Blogging enables you to write freely about your ideas and thoughts, and you can choose to share them or you can keep them private, but the end result is that you have a way to express yourself, be creative and can then use it as a means for personal growth and reflection.” So get ready to start blogging today!

Works Cited:

Poth, Rochelle D. “What are the benefits of Student Blogging” teachthought. 8 January 2016

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