Come Learn with Us: A look at Classroom Blogs

It took quite a bit of searching, but I was very excited to find 3 very interesting classroom blogs. I was hoping to find some social studies blogs, and I was lucky enough to find a good one for middle and high school. I just love that in all of the blogs, you can feel the passion from teachers and students to invite others to come into their digital classrooms and comment and learn with them.

Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog

It is amazing to me to see such young students blogging, using technology and being so excited about learning. This blog won the best blog with Edublogs, which is something that students can be proud of because they all have an influence on the content of the blog. Mrs. Yollis will post pictures and text about projects the students have been doing, and parents, students and anyone can see what the class is up to and make comments. One of the coolest projects I saw that the class did, was one that Mrs. Yollis called “Fotobabble Biographies!” The project was for students to choose an important person in history, write up a short biography and make a diorama of the person.  It took a typical 3 grade project and went a step further to incorporate tech with it.  Students also used an iPad to take photos of their projects, and they recorded audio using a web tool called Fotobabble to go with each photo.  This just shows that all projects that teachers always do year after year with their students can be updated and expanded to do more than teach content, but also technology skills.

The CoNCH

This is a blog of an 8th grade social studies class where they learn civics, citizenship, and the evolution of the US. Ms. DiGangi says that her classroom blog is called The CoNCH  because

“We launch our study of civics and citizenship by comparing and contrasting the events and characters from Lord of the Flies with The Lion King. Multiple concepts (i.e., state of nature, conscience, dictatorship, civic virtue, human reason, rights and responsibilities of citizens, democracy, etc.) in both movies allow our students to walk away with a concrete understanding of challenging material.”(DiGangi)

What a neat idea for combining movies and literature into thoughtful discussions of philosophy in an 8th grade class. On the blog, Ms. DiGangi has a space for Agenda and Homework, which is a great idea so that students can look ahead and remember what the homework is when they get home. Also, on this page students can let their teacher know that they have finished make up work, or that they are going to be out sick. I think it wonderful when students have a safe means of communicating with their teacher after school and on the weekends to ask questions. Students are also required to answer homework questions on the blog and comment on students’ answers. This means that the classroom dialog does not have to end with the bell, it can continue on the web.

Mrs. Watson’s Room 102

In this blog, there is a page for each subject Mrs. Watson teaches, which is American Lit, US History, and AP Human Geography. On the home page for all of her students to see, she posts articles about history and current events for students to stay informed. I think this is a great idea because students tend to tune out the news, why not make it easier to students to get important events. Also, I would use a current events blog page  in my classroom to start conversations or to use for writing activities, and the students can read the articles at home for homework. Mrs. Watson could have done so much more with the posts under each class. It appears as if she made one post at the beginning of the year for each and then did not keep up with it. It’s sad because you can tell when reading about her, that she was very excited about starting a class blog. I wonder if many students had trouble learning in this digital environment or if there was a lack of resources, or she simply lost track of time. This is also a lesson that unless a teacher keeps up with a blog, students will forget about it and will not get the benefits from it.  In each beginning post, she explains how to register with Pearson Success Net, which might be where a lot of the digital learning took place. I know that Pearson makes textbooks. I was not able to log on to Pearson Success Net, but I’m interested to find out more about it.  It appears to be an online community where students can interact and learn more about the textbook content.  I think can be a great resource for students.

Reflection

I hope to always have an updated blog in my classroom. Looking at different blogs really showed me how important that is. Why would students and parents go to the blog if they know the teacher is not reliable to check the blog? I also learned how cool it is for students to see how people from all over the world are looking at their blog, and students can  show off what they are doing. I hope to connect with other teachers through blogs, not just in my classroom, but around the world. I think that I can promote blogging to other teachers simply by word of mouth and by the positive reactions I would get from students. When I started this blog, I was afraid, I did not know what I was doing, but getting started is the hardest part. Once you do start, I realized that there really isn’t that much to it. It doesn’t have to be fancy! As long as it’s functional, that is the most important thing. I think it would also help teachers to have weekly blog get together where teacher relax, discuss and help each other create and manage their blogs. The school/county could also have a professional development blog for teachers showing them how to get started and show them links to great examples of blogging.

DiGangi, . The CoNCH. N.p., n. d. Web. 15 Jun. 2013. <http://theconch.edublogs.org/about-us-page/&gt;.

Watson, . Mrs. Watson’s Room 102. N.p., n. d. Web. 15 Jun. 2013. <http://janfwatson.edublogs.org/about/&gt;.

Yollis, Linda. Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog. N.p., n. d. Web. 15 Jun. 2013. <http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com/&gt;.

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2 comments

  1. Hello Kirstie,

    I completely agree with you that students can benefit from blogs by being able to access course information as well as have access to the teacher through posting questions and e-mail. I think it also allows students to process what has taken place in class in a less stressful environment away from the eyes and ears of peers in a classroom. I also have to commend you for being afraid but diving in anyway! You know I am also focusing on social studies so I was excited to see that you have found 3 social studies related blogs! This shows your own excitement and dedication to social studies. I wonder though how a teacher who has so many other responsibilities can start with the best of intentions and follow through with updating their classroom blog thoughout the entire school year. I think that it would need to be woven into the curriculum and have assignments required for commenting on the blog for that to take place. I think it would have to go beyond just a place to find interesting information and be a regular part of class. Still, I am finding that class blogs have many great ideas for new spins on the “same old projects.”

    Corey

  2. Kirstie,

    I was so glad to see some other disciplines in your blog assessment! I stuck to English, but I was wondering what else was out there. I’ve been hearing so much about the Yollis blog, and it sounds like she really deserved the award for best classroom blog. The Conch sounds amazing, and it’s exactly the kind of blog that inspires other teachers to blog. Two years ago I had a student who was out for more than 50% of the semester, and so that she didn’t fall behind, my student teacher and I had to manage and keep up with a google calendar (we shared with the parents) so they could see what we did in class that day. It was a good model for my student teacher, but it was surprisingly a lot of work… until we got in the the habit of it. I wonder if blogging is similar; if you make it a part of your daily routine, it won’t be as cumbersome? It sounds like the last blog you read was of someone who did (like you said) lose track of time. It’s amazing how busy you get and how fast the year goes!

    Thanks for sharing!

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