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To blog or nor to blog?

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Started by ainsley massarotto 24 May 2011 5:38pm () Replies (5)

I've been having a discussion with some friends (both teachers and non-teachers) about whether blogging is considered homework. Some argued that it is just mucking around on the computer, there is no need to write correctly and it may be helping to form bad habits. Others argued that least their kids are writing and reading, no matter the quality. I'm just not sure



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 26 May 2011 2:54pm ()

    Hi Ainsley, good question. I hear two challenges to unpack here.

    1.    Can children learn from homework tasks
    2.    ‘through’ the use of blogs?

    Maybe unpacking the purpose or intentions of homework is one idea. For example, are the homework tasks consolidating the concepts, key competencies or key ideas of the day/week? Is homework being used as a way to reinforce new learning from school at home? Is homework being set - to guide new learning at home and shared at school? If so, how can this be done through blogging?

    Blogging itself is the vehicle or tool and a good one for making authentic connections between home and school (aligns with one of the ICT PD national goals). So if blogging is the platform or tool to communicate to a wider audience, then ideally it’s not the goal itself, but part of a bigger learning intention.

    Blogging processes such as typing text, adding comments, images and video can easily be learned and processes for appropriate use can be taught. Just like rules apply for letter writing, phone etiquette, email exchanges and informal dialogue, similar rules can be applied for blogging. I’m not saying what these are specifically, these can be decided in-line with the purpose for using the blogs in the first place.

    For example: One class may have a blog that is designed to, “Collect and collate our thoughts and invite feedback to build on our ideas for story writing. We are in the early stages of pulling ideas together to craft new work. This is in draft form, so expect to see spelling and other superficial errors. It is a work in progress, we intend to publish in the form of…” while another class may have stipulated their blog was more for publishing or celebrating their best work - like a mini e-portfolio where parents and caregivers are invited to make comments about their week at school.

    So, once the purpose of homework is clear and the ‘rules’ or protocols for the blog defined – the potential for learning between home and school is huge.

    Emma Watts from the Whakatu cluster has started a great discussion thread on Community comments on Blogs @ /mod/threaded_forums/topicposts.php?topic=42526&group_guid=27128

    Jill Hammonds has set up a wiki explaining how to set up and write blogs and responding to feedback. http://blogalong.wikispaces.com/

    Some examples of schools blogging can be found @ http://www.netvibes.com/homegroups#Classroom_Samples

    Some helpful resources on blogging as well as NetSafe guidelines can be found @ /pg/resources/tessa.gray/read/54913/blogging-in-the-classroom

    Hope this helps and doesn't confuse too much

    Tess Smile

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 26 May 2011 9:50pm ()

    Hi Ainsley,

    Netsafe created a PDF called 'Blogging & Web 2.0 Considerations for Schools'.  In the paper they discuss the educational purpose for using blogging in the classroom and it might help you unpack the challenge of blogging as homework.  They state that blogging can:

    • Create opportunities for students to reflect on and discuss what they are learning
    • Practice the written expression of ideas and opinions with an authentic audience
    • Helps students explore classroom learning through what others have written
    • Receive support and feedback on their own ideas through teacher/peer comments
    • Learn about and practice collaboration, respect, and relating to others online
    • Promote the overall teaching and learning goals of the classroom.

    I think that all of the ideas above prove that blogging is a worthwhile homework task and not just 'mucking' around on the computer.  At Tahunanui School we don't currently state that blogging is a 'homework' activity but we do encourage students and parents to read the blog posts and post comments at home. 

    At Tahunanui  we use blogging to share our learning with parents, whanau and the local community.  We are even begining to forge national and global connections!  We have added blogging as part of our Annual ICT Plan.  One of our targets is for 90% classes to create a blog post about their learning once a week.  In our action plan to help us achieve this school target we linked it to the National Goal 1:  Schools will use e-learning to give effect to the New Zealand Curriculum/Te Marautanga o Aotearoa by increasing the capability of students to become successful digital citizens.  We are aiming for teachers & students tracking their learning through ICTs, NZNC & key competencies through blogging and for teachers, students and parents to develop and use ‘academic commenting’ rather than ‘social commenting’  In Term one 58% of classrooms blogged once a week or more and
    42% of classrooms blogged between 2 & 7! Smile A great start to our target.

    Because we have been actively teaching and promoting academic commenting on blogs, I'm pleased to say that students are helping their parents to academically comment at home. Smile 

    I firmly believe that how to blog as a digital citizen needs to be taught in school before being set as a homework task.  Guidelines for parents help of course.  I also promote our blog at home through class letters and newsletters.  When a child has made a blog post, a letter goes home with the child encouraging parents to make a comment.  Students are also making comments on each others posts from now too (with out any encouragement!)  Yes the quality varies when a student comments from home...but that then provides brilliant learning opportunities in class about academic commenting! Smile  

    As a school we have decided that posts, because they are being seen by a global audience, that both deeper (ideas and content) and surface features (spelling and grammar) are important.  In my class students  draft posts and then edit before posting, and currently I view comments before they post (I teach Year 3s there blog can be found at http://room9-in-2011.blogspot.com).  In this term I will use student academic experts (students in my class who have demonstarted skills in commenting) to view comments before posting and then from Term 3 to encourage self monitoring at school.  We have an academic comment check list in class to help, it is also available on the class blog. At home, well I am happy to trust both students and parents commenting because of the work we have done on digital citizenship in class.

    Hope that helps!


  • Maria (View all users posts) 07 Jun 2011 5:27pm ()

    Thanks Tess and Emma for your excellent contributions to our new school teacher blog, and your points for Ainsley's discussion.  Ainsley, I believe the culture you have set within your classroom already encourages reflective learning and this is evident on your class blog.  You have moved through the novelty stage that is always evident with any new learning and now your class blog is the 'vehicle' for learning - with your students in the driver's seat.  There is no reason why (if that is what you want) homework cannot be done the same way.  You already have the processes in place - perhaps it is a next step? 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 07 Jun 2011 8:24pm ()

    Hi Maria, that sounds so cool. I love how teachers and educators can ask the questions and have our say - in a safe space to do this. What's exciting about this environment, is being able to share thoughts/experiences, as well as gain an insight or two from others. If one person is thinking something, it's more than likely - many others are too.

    It's also rewarding to hear how teachers are peer-mentoring others in similar situations. 

    I'd love to hear about the 'next steps' too Smile

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