Living in the world that we live in today requires students to be literate in
technology. It has become the role of the school and teachers to
incorporate different technologies into classroom activities.
One way that schools and teachers can incorporate technology into their
lesson plans is by allowing students and teachers to use web blogs,
commonly called blogs, within their Language Arts classes.
Of course anytime internet activities are used with children certain
precautions must be taken to make sure that the children are safe and not
sharing information that could allow internet predators to access them.
After establishing ground rules students and teachers can use blogs to express
their opinions about books being read within the classroom. This allows
students who may not be vocal within the classroom to contribute to the
discussions. It also provides an alternative to using paper and pen
journaling, saving paper and money.
By: Hollie Dick
How can blogging be
incorporated into Language
• A Space for “Writing without Writing” Blogs in the Language Arts Class
• “That‟s Online Writing not Boring School Writing”: Writing With Blogs and
the Talkback Project
• Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube,
Digital Stories, and Blogs
•Why Should We Use This?
Teacher Emily Van Noy‟s 7th grade English and Language Arts
classroom has changed since she first started teaching. Originally
Van Noy used paper journals and collected them weekly. After
seeing how time consuming this was Van Noy decided to try a
different method using blogs. Van Noy created accounts for her
students on Blogger.com using her school e-mail address. She
gave each student a pseudonym to write under and established
this a “private” place for her students to write in. In their blogs
students wrote about their ideas sparked by their literary
discussions and reflections on their readings.
Van Noy found that her students generally enjoyed using blogger.com. It
was pretty user friendly and the students didn‟t run into too many
The main problems that can affect the students use of blogger.com deal
with the availability of internet access. Students who didn‟t have internet
access would have to use the school‟s computers which could be done
during class time.
Another problem that faced the students use of blogger.com dealt with
parent permission. Before this project was even started Van Noy had to
make sure each student had parental permission to use the internet. If the
students didn‟t have permission they were allowed to use word processor
and show the document to Van Noy.
What did I learn?
The quote that stuck out the most for me in this article was as follows:
“As Eric wrote, „ using a blog is more fun, and I think it doesn‟t cause a
writer‟s block‟.” (Kajder, Bull, Van Noy, 2004)
In the article the authors talked about how often times students find blank
pieces of paper intimidating. They don‟t know what to write leaving
them feeling frustrated with a case of writer‟s block. I loved that
introducing blogs, which a lot of students are familiar with, can make
writing less intimidating. I think that as teachers our major goal is to
provide students with tools that can aid them in learning. If a student
isn‟t comfortable with writing, as a teacher, I want to try to put writing
into terms that make sense to them. In a technological world students
may be feel more comfortable writing on a screen where they know they
can delete words more easily. Students may also not be able to write fast.
If students are allowed to type up their thoughts, they may be more
inclined to write because they can express themselves quickly.
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Shelbie Witte is a writing teacher in a middle school and found
certain students did not like writing in journals. When she asked
one student‟s parents about their child not liking to write they
were surprised because their daughter wrote all the time on her
blog. Witte took that information and realized that she needed to
use blogging within her classroom to engage her students.
Through a blog that she entitled the “Talkback Project Blog” Witte
connected her middle school students with preservice teachers to
discuss novels read in literature circles. Witte gave her students
pseudonyms to write under and the project began. After a
semester of use Witte realized that the program needed to be
revamped because of the reaction from her students and the
preservice teachers. Her students felt that the preservice teachers
were talking down to them, and Witte noticed the preservice
teachers used the blog as a chat space. After the revamp Witte
required the preservice teachers to develop better questions, set
up classroom visit by the preservice teachers, and required her
students to make videos.
What Happened to the Project?
The students and preservice teachers enjoyed the Talkback Project blog
because it really challenged both parties to read carefully and come up
with thoughtful insights to share on the blog. The project was so
successful that a father stationed in Iraq even began participating in the
Although Witte went through the proper channels and got permission
from the parents of her students and the administration of her school, the
Talkback Project blog hit a road bump. After a student posted
information a member of the administration thought revealed too much
about the student‟s location, the blog was shut down in November 2005.
Witte was forced to go back to using paper and shuttling journals to the
preservice teachers once a week. The students and preservice teachers
were frustrated, and Witte suggested that they write letters. After the
overwhelming number of letters expressing disappointed the
administration decided to reinstate the program. The administration
required that the blog be hosted on their school‟s site.
What did I Learn?
When the Talkback Project blog was removed the students wrote letters
to the administration. There was one particular quote that stood out to
me. A student said, “By Taking away our access to the Talkback Project
blog, you have taken away my voice”( Witte,2007)
This quote affected me the most because as someone who wants to teach
English/Language Arts words are extremely important. As a teacher I
want to provide my students with skills that allow them to have a voice
in the world. Students need to know that their words have power if they
use them in constructive ways. I think that if I was in the same position of
Witte I would have felt disappointed, frustrated, and heartbroken
knowing that my students felt that way about a project ending. Obviously
the Talkback Project blog allowed the students to express their opinions
and made them feel as if they were contributing to their class in a positive
way. When the project ended that ability to contributed was limited in
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Rebecca Mullen is a language arts teacher at a middle school in a rural
area. Mullen had access to computer lab and 5 computers in her
classroom. To make her class more exciting to students, Mullen decided
to introduce different readily available technology within her classroom
activities. Mullen used three different types of technology primarily
within her classroom : YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs.
Mullen found YouTube to be useful in her classroom because of the large
quantity of videos that are available on it. Mullen uses YouTube to show
different clips to tie into lessons on things like “Nostalgia,” which may be
difficult for kids to understand. By looking up videos that showed clips of
shows from her students “youth,” Mullen was able to demonstrate what
“Nostalgia” was. Mullen also had her kids create videos to explain
different ideas that she posted to her private TeacherTube account.
Give me more technologies!
Mullen used digital stories to bring her students ideas to life. Digital
stories use words, pictures, music, and sound to share ideas or stories
with people. Mullen had her students brainstorm ideas, write their piece
and then turn it into a digital story. Mullen‟s students enjoyed the project
because it allowed them to make their piece unique.
Mullen used blogging within her classroom using Blogger.com. Each
student was given a pseudonym and could only post on the blog when
Mullen was logged in. The students used the blog to write book
recommendations, respond to or discuss current events, and comment on
other postings. The students enjoyed the blog postings because they
could learn about different books their classmates enjoyed and share
books that they enjoyed. Not only did the students enjoy the blogging it
limited the amount of paper used.
What did I Learn?
This article was very helpful in my opinion because it had three different
ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. This ties into the
quote that to me was the essence of this article.
“Students should be able to use modern technology in the classrooms
because that is the world we are growing up in and it is a skill to know
how to use the latest technology”- Blain, 8th grader (Mullen, Wedwick,
Blain is a very smart 8th grader! Technology is every where that we go.
Look around your home! There is probably at least one computer or
device that allows you to access the internet. Many jobs require
employees to be able to use Microsoft Office proficiently. As a teacher it is
very important to keep up with technology and now how to use it. Also
as a teacher, our job is to provide students with tools to help them
succeed. In our modern world, students have to be proficient and able to
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After researching this topic, I think it‟s very important to be able to
incorporate technology into my classroom. As a future English teacher,
I‟ve learned that it‟s important to remember that every child is different.
In English classrooms, students have to write but many might feel
uncomfortable writing on paper because it‟s daunting. Paper doesn‟t
have spell check or the easy ability to delete what doesn‟t need to be there
anymore. By allowing students to use blogs, it opens up a world of
opportunities for a student. Students feel more comfortable writing and
may share opinions that they wouldn‟t in class because students feel
One thing to remember about incorporating blogs into a classroom is
getting permission. Teachers need to get permission from their
administration, and students need permission from their parents.
Teachers also need to be conscious to protect the students identity and
monitor the posts to make sure the students are remaining safe online.
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Kajder, S., Bull, G., & Van Noy, E. (2004). A Space
for "Writing without Writing" Blogs In The
Language Arts Classroom. Mining the Internet.
Learning and Leading with Technology , 32-35.
Mullen, R., & Wedwick, L. (2008). Avoiding the
Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom
with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs. Clearing
House: A Journal of Educational Strategies , 66-69.
Witte, S. (2007). Avoiding the Digital Abyss:
Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube,
Digital Stories, and Blogs. Journal of Adolescent &
Adult Literacy , 92-96.
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