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Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

I work in the Technology Services Department for a large public school district. I love my job (technology integration specialist) and truly appreciate my department’s support of programs that promote digital literacy and the potential for students – and teachers – to advance from digital citizens to global citizens.

With this week’s start of the new school year, I’m getting lots of requests from teachers to setup Edublogs Pro classroom blogs, something I am happy to do … but not until we’ve had a conversation about their vision for their blogs. Because my department pays for our Edublog Campus accounts (worth every penny), I like to know how far up the SAMR ladder they – and their students – might travel via their classroom blog. If they simply want an online location to post homework and announcements, I suggest a free Google Site. If they need a little background on the SAMR model, I might send them a short video, such as John Spensor’s introduction, which makes the connection to the potential power of blogging:

Last week, in response to my blogging vision questions, a teacher sent me a link to the awesome Jeff Bradbury’s TeacherCast session: The Great EdTech Debate: Google Sites vs Google Classroom vs Blogger. I emailed back that Jeff was simply reviewing the suite of Google options; he was not commenting on the power and possibilities of  classroom blogging. (And I agree with Jeff that Blogger is not the best choice for a classroom blog.)

This morning, I came across Silvia Tolisano’s post Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR, I decided it was time to gather resources and rationale on moving a classroom blog from “substitution” (the “S” of SAMR) to “redefinition.” Silvia’s post, with its wonderful infographics, is a great starting point. I’m also including and highly recommending:

As a former classroom teacher, I witnessed many times the bump in literacy skills that happens when students know their work really matters, a change that generally requires an authentic audience. Blogging can provide a 24/7 microphone for students to join in virtual conversations with students and classrooms across the nation and world – and, in the process, cross the line from consumer of information to creator of information – and from digital citizen to global citizen.

I’m ending this post with two things: a blogger’s poem and an invitation.

#1) An if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-style poem from Edublogger Ronnie Burt’s blog post A Rhyme? Why Not! Please note that “website” = “blog”:

If you give a student a website, at first, he isn’t going to be sure what to do.

He will start by wanting to decorate it and personalize it too.

He’ll no doubt choose some interesting colors and flashing widgets – making sure he has the most.

Once you go over expectations, you will assign the student to write his first post.

The student will ask, ‘is this for a grade?’, and he will probably groan.

But once he publishes to his new website, he’ll immediately want to pull out his phone.

He’ll post a link to twitter and facebook, out across the interwebs his post will be sent.

He’ll hit refresh in his browser, over and over, just hoping that a visitor has left a comment.

Before long he’ll see the comment notifications show up in his queue.

And an ongoing dialogue between his family, friends, and classmates will certainly continue.

So the next time he learns something new in your class, there won’t be much of a fight.

Before you even get the chance to finish, the student will ask if he can write another post on his website.

 

#2 ) An invitation to share classroom and student blogs I could showcase in my next post on blogging best practices. Please leave a comment with links!

Best wishes to everyone for the 2017-2018 school year.

PS Thank you Pixabay for cc licensed blogging image!

 

7 Reasons Why Students and Teachers Should Know How to Blog

7 Reasons Why Students and Teachers Should Know How to Blog

In the digital age, kids need to have an understanding of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. They need to learn the technical how-to’s, as well as a more global comprehension of how to navigate the online world. ” Tina Barseghian, Mindshift

Students

Reasons 1-6 are from Jenny Luca, Australian teacher/librarian – and one of my favorite Tweeters: Six Reasons Why Kids Should Know How to Blog. Here’s an abbreviated list, but please read Jenny’s post for the rationale behind each reason:

  1. Create positive digital footprints
  2. Communicate with digital tools
  3. Transparency
  4. New ways of thinking about digital tools
  5. Effective digital citizenship
  6. Pride in work


Teachers

Reason 7 also comes indirectly from Australia, via Ronnie Burt (Edublogger Sue Water’s US counterpart): Improving Parent Communication in 3 Short Steps – Ronnie has summarized a post from Edutopia that reviewed the results of a recent parent survey from the National School Public Relations Association. Despite the efforts of  many school sites and districts to improve school-to-home communication through Facebook and Twitter links, those two social media networks did not make the top of the list at all. They actually ranked below television and attending school board meetings! The results show that:

Luckily for those with blogs, 4 out of the top 5 methods most requested can be taken care of in a flash. In short, parents like information to be on a website (which is really what a blog is) and they like email notification*.”

*Providing email notification is as easy as dragging and dropping a widget/gadget into your sidebar.

Love it when the research supports practices I have seen first-hand making engaging students in reading and writing –  and at the same time bringing parents (and grandparents) on board:-)

Articulating Blog-Reading Habits

Articulating Blog-Reading Habits

NWP colleague Kevin Hodgson is a guiding light in many ways. For several years now, he has sponsored the Youth Radio project, a podcasting project connecting classrooms across the nation and world as students share topics and projects from their own classrooms, neighborhoods, and regions. It’s been my privilege to connect with the YR project locally by joining A3WP colleague Jim Faires and his students as they listen to, respond to, discuss, and even take to a worldwide audience YR topics.

In the blogging workshops I currently teach, I always direct teachers to Kevin’s classroom blog. In every session, there will always be a teacher or two who, after touring the Electric Pencil, has a whole new understanding of how blogging can benefit teachers and their students.

Now I have a new resource to share in my workshops. I’ll be directing workshop teachers to Kevin’s NWP article Bringing the World to My Doorstep: A Teacher’s Blog-Reading Habits article. Often in my workshops, I realize that teachers leave all setup with their own blog (an Edublog), but without an understanding that blogging is all about reading – reading other bloggers’ thoughts, ideas, and challenges – and responding. Kevin’s article makes visible “how the world of blogs enriches his teaching, supports his tech liaison work, provides opportunities for his students, and keeps him connected both to his NWP network and to a wider network of educators.”

His article also explains so well the power of RSS, another topic I rarely get to in a 2-3 hour workshop, but I think by having teachers read Kevin’s article, I’ll have a great starting point for introducing RSS early on in my upcoming day-long and week-long summer workshops. I’ll also be introducing the term social media literacy.

Social media literacy refers to the ways in which bloggers connect and stay informed of each others’ work. One blogger, Chris Heuer , suggests that RSS could be “the fourth “R” in our conception of literacy , noting that RSS-based social media literacy “enables any individual to step into the conversational flow—to not only follow what other people are communicating, but ensure what the individual has to communicate is heard by other people who care about the topic.”

One more time, I want to thank Kevin for his innovative teaching practices, his commitment to bringing others on board with Web 2.0 best practices, and his willingness to mentor 24/7.

Improving Quality of Student Comments

Improving Quality of Student Comments

As I move through the 31-Comment Challenge (ok, I’m behind), I’ve been thinking about ways to help students improve their commenting skills. Via Donna DesRoches‘s “Blogging and Reading Comprehension Strategies,” I found a great free resource to provide some scaffolding for young bloggers: Comprehension Strategy Posters provided by ReadingLady.com.

readingstrategies.jpg

The posters are available in both Word and PDF formats and include:

  • Asking Questions
  • Determining
  • Inferring
  • Making Connections
  • OWL (Observe, Wonder, Link)
  • Repairing Comprehension
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing

If students were encouraged to focus on one strategy per week, and could refer to the posters, teachers might see less of the “I liked your post” one-liner responses and more of the thoughtful kind of writing the improves literacy skills – and bumps up the learning possibilities of the blogging project. I like how Donna explains the importance of encouraging better commenting: “Blogging is a great communication tool but it is the use of effective commenting skills that will extend and engage global conversations for our students.”

*Note: Image from http://classroomtechtips.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/readingstrategies.jpg

NPR Celebrates 10th B-day of Blogging

NPR Celebrates 10th B-day of Blogging

My favorite radio program NPR included a podcast on blogging’s 10th birthday in today’s Morning Edition – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17562078. What could I add to Vicki Davis‘s excellent description of blogging as a classroom tool for extending teaching and learning? Perhaps one blog post and two 30-second videoclips:

  • The blog post that best sums up how and why blogging can boost literacy skills: Will Richardson’s Jan 2007 post Blogging to Teach Reading – “blogging is reading with the intent to write,” which is a whole different ball game than reading to answer a multiple-choice test!
  • From Florin High School students Erica and Phillip explaining, during a 2005 CUE presentation via videoconferencing straight from their classroom, what blogging means to them.
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