blogging makes me happy

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).

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7 responses to “blogging makes me happy

  1. Hi Debi,
    I had an interesting experience re blogging and social ‘experience’ this weekend. On my blog, I’ve added personal concerns and stories to my posts, and I rather expected to write about Mary Travers and Peter, Paul, and Mary. They were first popular when I was a teenager and my girlfriend and I went to see them in concert. But I was going to write about my response to the PBS documentary that Channel 2 showed the night after she died. However, before that happened, I had coffee with a friend and shared my thoughts and feelings with her. I no longer felt any need to post.

    I write this because the topic is social connections. I don’t want people to give up the truly personal in exchange for a wider audience. Not everyone needs to know everything about me.

  2. I also wonder about maintaining the engagement and excitement of a blog. I’ve seen too many classroom blogs that started out great but never continued. Since you’ve had experience keeping up a personal blog, what tips could you offer those of us who may enthusiastically start an educational or a personal blog only to have it fall into the no-man’s land of abandoned blogs?

  3. Ah Isa, that is the question…how to keep from abandoning our blogs! Honestly, I go in streaks where I want to write a lot and then my life gets busy and don’t post as often. That’s the natural flow of life.

    And Joann, isn’t it interesting that after you got to talk to someone, you didn’t feel the need to write about it. I often blog because I feel more articulate in written form than verbal form; the ideas I formulate in my writing often help me then go on to speak more precisely and thoughtfully. (p.s. I think it would be great for you to write about that memory of the Peter, Paul and Mary concert! I think memories are great tributes.)

  4. Like you, I’m an introvert who can sometimes masquerade as an extrovert. I’m finding I enjoy blogging for many of the same reasons you listed. Just sitting down and getting my thoughts down feels like a release. It’s also clarifying. And, as you mentioned, it feels kind of social. Sort of like, “Hey world, despite the fact that I’m kind of quiet, I have lots of thoughts and I’m going to put them out there for you to read.” I always enjoying reading your thoughts.

  5. I just checked out the awesome biology website/blog/wiki/NING. Amazing! I can see that postings by other students will be read because it is formatted so attractively. It also contains useful info for the students. I wonder how much prior exposure to this technology the students have had in middle school. Is this second nature to them?

    I like the cartoon she posted, too. Did you see the comics in Sunday’s and today’s STRIB: Janis making fun of Arlo’s ‘old’ technology and deciphering a text message by Chip in Monday’s Hi and Lois strip? I don’t think I can post the links here, but will on my blog.

  6. Extreme biology is amazing! This website and blog has so many links…what a motivating vehicle for learning more about science through video and other multimedia resources. I wonder how many students choose to check this out at home just because it is interesting?

  7. The Extreme biology link is fantastic. Thanks for sharing it. I want to listen to the podcast also.

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