It seems like everyone has a blog these days. Some of us even have more than one (er, five…). And many educators have taken advantage of this popular outlet to use as a teaching tool in the classroom.
But there's more to using blogs in the classroom than just throwing up homework assignments or sharing classroom announcements. Here are some tips for the best ways to incorporate blogs into your classroom:
One of the best ways to incorporate blogs into the classroom is to use it for collaborative discussions and projects. Students can post their ideas, comments to a discussion, reflections on assignments or lectures, and more. Blogs can be a place for students working together to share ideas, or they can be used by teachers to guide discussions and provide prompts for critical thinking.
Students can use blogs as a space to share reflections on readings or other critical-thinking assignments. The teacher can pose questions for consideration, or students can provide open-ended responses on how they felt about what they read or questions that it caused them to consider. Instead of typing up these responses and turning them in as homework, students can submit them via blog where they are visible for the whole class to see.
Journaling possibilities are open-ended with a blog, which is essentially an online journal. Students can maintain individual blogs used to post classroom writing assignments, or a classroom blog can be kept to compare writings and share ideas. Writings can range from academic to personal, for the development of writing skills or for personal expression.
Students often need extra help to understand concepts. Teachers can create blogs with extra materials — from readings to exercises — to give students the extra help that they need. Videos, readings, podcasts and more can be posted for students to use as they need them.
Blogs are an easy way to coordinate classroom assignments and announcements. Teachers can use them to post homework assignments, to provide feedback, and even to make announcements about upcoming classroom activities or other requirements. It's also a great place to share news of awards, or even pictures from special events.
Students can create an online portfolio of work through blogs that can then be used to measure progress over the course of a semester or a year, or can be used for long-term projects that require revision or building upon a foundation of earlier projects. It's also useful to help students see what they have created and how they have progressed.
Benefits of Blogs
Today's students are "digital natives” in that they were born in an age in which computers and other technology are ubiquitous in their lives. They grew up with e-mail, texting, and cell phones. They probably know their way around a Tivo better than you do. Using technology to help them learn is natural, as it brings the information to them on their own terms.
Blogs can also help motivate learning by offering students a new outlet — something outside the realm of the traditional classroom. There is room for creativity and interaction that isn't always possible in the classroom. It also gives shy students a chance to "speak up” without the fear of face-to-face interaction.
Blogs offer new outlets to help students with reading and writing skills. Books and worksheets can sometimes seem stodgy to students, but blogs offer materials on an online forum — the same forum where they are used to getting their games, or connecting with friends, or reading about other interests.
Still unsure how you can use blogs in your classroom? Check out Web 2.0's list 33 Ways to Use Blog in Your Classroom and Educational Settings.