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A weblog or "blog" is a web-based journal in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. It allows the writer or “blogger” to post ideas and thoughts quickly using conversational language for many to read. Each entry includes a link to leave comments.
The contents of each blog differ, depending on the interests and style of the author. Some common themes and topics of weblogs include: news, website links, commentaries, reviews, politics, and current events among others. They range in scale from the writings of one occasional author to the collaboration of a large community of writers commenting on each entry.
I believe that in order to do something efficiently, it is important to first look at the broad picture and overview of a topic. By first understanding the simple definition of blogging and it’s simple characteristics, it will be easier to understand the process later on. By gaining knowledge about the general understanding of blogging, it will be not only easier to work with the blogging programs, but also to explain the fundamentals of blogging to students!
Blogs, because of their ease of use, have become a highly effective way to help students to become better writers. Research has long shown that students who write more, write in greater detail. They also take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet.
The simplest way to begin is to download a program like Blogmeister. It is a free blogging tool that is accessible completely online, so there is no software to install. The teacher sets up the blog and student accounts, and students can add their own entries. The teacher reviews each post and either approves and publishes the entry or returns it to the student for editing before reviewing it again.
Another easy alternative is KidzBlog. KidzBlog is available for both Windows and Mac computers and is an affordable, secure, and simple solution for the elementary teacher wanting to blog on just one classroom computer in order to avoid downloading on an entire school server. Set-up is a matter of just a few steps which include choosing a name and selecting design elements. Then, students write their entries and illustrate them with the simple drawing tools that are included in the software. Password protection ensures that what students write or draw will not go online until the teacher enters the password.
What about the teacher’s who are concerned with making student’s information accessible online?
When hearing about blogging becoming an emerging technology in the classroom, and with aspirations to be an elementary teacher, I felt uneasy about allowing information my student’s write being accessible to anyone on the internet. However, I was pleased to find out that there were still options and incorporating blogging in my classroom could still be a possibility for me!
Oracle's Think.com can be a useful tool for schools and teachers who extra-cautious about putting elementary students online. Think.com is not strictly a blogging tool, it is a closed e-mail and Web-authoring tool. This means students can view only e-mails and Web sites created by their peers at their school. You can also chose to make their blogs available to other Think.com schools.
Teachers can use blogs to replace the standard class Web page. Instructors can post class times and rules, assignment notifications, suggested readings, and exercises.
Blogs can be used to organize in-class discussions. Blogging provides a change of pace for the students that will create excitement in the discussion. Students will be excited to get on the computer and create their blogs, so consequently they will become more passionate about the discussion. Even if it is something as simple as their favorite activity in class that day.
Blogging creates an endless amounts of ideas for assignments and material that the students can be graded on. Also, blogs create an easy way to keep track of the progress made by different students in their organization and writing skills.
Can Blogging be a beneficial tool in other subjects besides Language and Writing?
If blogging is incorporated into the classroom effectively, it can help to improve all aspects of education.
History: Students can chose their favorite section of a chapter they are studying and write a blog describing it. Then by reading all the blogs, students will gain knowledge of the whole chapter. Students will be teaching students.
Math: The teacher will create a problem on the blog containing certain material the class is learning about. By students writing information about how to solve the problem on the blog, they will help other students who possibly do not understand the material that is being studied.
Science: An entire section of science can be focused on. Students can be assigned a particular project or experiment to conduct. They can then discuss and share their findings of the results on the blog for other students to read.
Some school corporations and teachers are concerned with the fact that student’s will have such a wide range of access to the internet. There have been instances of bullying and inappropriate uses before of blogs in classrooms.
However, this is no longer a concern. There has been many forms of updated software that puts the teacher entirely in charge of what is posted on the blog, before it is actually put on the internet. There are also programs that have been created to give student’s blogs a private web space that only authorized individuals, such as other schools and students, can access.
It is obvious that the benefits of blogging outweigh the concerns. Blogging is an emerging technology that will constantly continue to be innovated to more accurately meet the needs of the educational environment.
By researching blogging I have found that it can be used as a main resource in the classroom. All the information I found about blogging had positive feedback from both teachers and students. I was worried, at first, that blogging only incorporated writing skills in the classroom, however I found that all subjects can be incorporated through the use of blogging. I found it interesting to see that it seemed student’s enjoyed blogging very much and almost didn’t refer to it is an actual assignment. I feel that this emerging technology will soon become a main attribute to every classroom.