Monday, February 21, 2011

Reflecting on My Class Blog

Mike, a student at SUNY Potsdam left a comment on my class blog. I decided that instead of writing a very long comment on that post, I would just go ahead and answer the questions here where it might be seen by more people.

How do you feel this blog improves classroom instruction?

I use my class blog to deliver instructions to my students. Because the words are static, I don't have to worry about inconsistencies in my delivery. The instructions stay on the blog and can be accessed by the students or their parents at any time. There is the added benefit of having tools right there that can be used by the student for purposes of clarification. For example the student can read the text or have it read to them by clicking a button on the post using Odiogo. If the student does not know a word, they can double click it and it will bring up a definition from . There is the Google translator widget on the side for students or parents that need the post translated as well. You can find my contact information easily on the site too.

Not only do these tools allow students the ability to work on their own, it also allows students to have choice in how they want the content delivered to them. See this post on the Toolbelt Theory for more clarification. 

Have you seen an improvement in classroom participation and interest with the creation of this blog?  

The blog is a little over four years old. The students I have in eighth grade now were in my classroom when I started it. It is not a new thing to them. What I have seen is that students of varying levels of ability and interest seem to like being able to work at their own pace using the instructions from the blog. I have students that come in, sit down, and get to work very quickly. Some students take more time to process. One major benefit is I don't have to repeat instructions often. They are already there on the blog. 

I don't think interest is sustainable by taking something and making it digital. The process is pretty much the same. Good lesson design and working toward relevancy for the students is much more important than whether or not you use tech tools.

Have you found any difficulties in using a classroom blog for students?

Creating posts that are not wordy, but still get the directions across can be difficult to master. If the students don't have access to tools like I have listed above, there can be a real barrier to learning. Some students don't like using technology (not unlike some adults) so they are maybe less motivated than they would be. The biggest problem I have found is when the hardware or the internet is not working properly. It is very important that you have a back up plan whenever you are using technology, just in case.

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