Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blogs for Reading Reflection

The past two weeks at C.I.S. 339 (Bronx, New York) have emphasized both the power and the potential problems of classroom blogging. There has definitely been a ground swell of online writing, and increased engagement, from students in grade 8 as they have launched their blogs. Not only that, but teachers have also posted, and their writing has been entertaining and inspiring.

The problems that I alluded to are not so much problems with blogging itself, but problems highlighted by blogging, which is actually a good thing.

Using Google Reader, teachers are able to identify:
  • students who are not posting
  • inappropriate posts
  • plagiarism
  • lapses in protocols for ensuring personal internet security

However, these few problems have been completely overshadowed by the enthusiasm with which students and teachers are now embracing this medium. Blogging has given students an authentic purpose and audience.

Using our own version of the characteristics of effective writing (FOCUS, ORGANIZATION, ELABORATION, VOICE/VOCABULARY and CONVENTIONS), teachers can start to suggest areas for improvement via the comments in students' blogs.

We have developed a spreadsheet as a blog tracker to enable many teachers across the school to share in the students' posts, and the principal has started celebrating good posts in the school wiki.

I would love to see the day when a student starts a blog in grade 6 and maintains this through to the end of grade 8. Imagine the power of this kind of tracking of student growth and teacher feedback!

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