As I practically shouted in class on Thursday, I love blogging! I started out as a lurker, reading a few blogs religiously, and then I started commenting, and then I finally started my own personal blog a couple years ago. I’m an introvert (although sometimes I put on a good extroverted front) and blogging helps me satisfy social needs without expending energy on face-to-face interaction. While blogging may present opportunities for an authentic audience, in my own personal blog I appreciate writing with relative anonymity. No one out there in internet land knows the real life me, and that seems to free my writing. Interestingly, the people who know the real life me don’t know that writing side of me, which makes me wonder what would happen if ever the two shall meet?
Blogging is a two-fold process for me. It provides me with a personal writing forum, but it also allows me to drop in on people all over the country and feel like I am a part of their lives (whether they know it or not). And those two things keep me engaged and excited.
Maintaining engagement and excitement is the tricky part of integrating blogs into a classroom setting. We’ve talked about how blogging can be just “one more thing” for students, something they do to fulfill a class requirement and then move on. A couple teachers in my building are trying things that move beyond prompting and responding with their classroom blogs, and I watch them carefully to see how I can use similar strategies with my own students. I love the idea that blogs can increase the amount of writing students do without them really being aware of it (sometimes I need to be sneaky to get my students writing), and I think social connectivity is probably one of the keys to keep students engaged. In chapter six of our text, the authors emphasize that “it is important to perceive them [blogs] as a tool for social conversation” (p. 118). Often that social part of blogging in the classroom seems not quite right to us as educators, as if kids talking (writing) with other kids is somehow a waste of educational time. It’s not, of course, but we have to be prepared to justify every use of time in our school days.
I’m not yet sure how to make blogging effective and engaging in my setting, but I think I can be a pioneer on this front. Or maybe there are some exciting examples of blogging with kids with disabilities that I don’t know about yet. Example: I just rediscovered sparktop.org after reading Maria’s post, and I will be exploring that site to see if/how I can integrate it into my work. Onward ho!
edited 9/26/09 to add: Yesterday I heard this fantastic interview with a science teacher on NPR’s Science Friday. I was driving at the time, so I didn’t explore her classroom blog/wiki/etc until this morning, but holy cow! This teacher is incorporating digital technology in all the ways we’ve been talking about, and her students have a huge presence on their classroom blog. I will be wandering over there many times this year to figure out how I can take some of those ideas and use them with my own students. Visit Stacy Baker’s classroom website, Extreme Biology, and be sure to check out their class blog (which you can find navigating the site map on the website).