Why We Blog Of course there are many reasons "why we blog" but this viral video probably says it best. This video, by the Digital Ethnography students at Kansas State University and their professor Michael Welsch, shows the incredible power the read/write/learn/teach/aware/share web has for combining image, sound, and text. We blog becasuse its a whole new way of us telling stories and the stories telling us.
What is a Weblog in English Class? English 12 Honors students are invited to participate in a weblog run by Mr. Youngs. In short, a weblog, or "blog" for short, is a form of an online journal and discussion forum. Blogs in English class offer a forum for students to discuss topics of interest as they explore style and substance of literary works.
The Class Blog is a "Glass House": Others Can See In But Cannot Participate Though many blogs are public, the English 12 Honors Blog will be only accessible for writing by students in the class and Mr. Youngs. The focus of the blog is specific to narrative inquiry of literary texts studied in class. The blog may be accessed by other students, parents, and the general public, but these groups will only be able to read the blog.
The discussion is built asynchronously. There is no instant messaging involved; thus students login to the blog when it is convenient for them, independently of each other, rather than a specified times.
What are the Content and Focus? The content and focus of the blog will be narrative inquiry of texts studied in class as defined in planned course curriculum. This strategy does not change curriculum content; rather, it provides an authentic and engaging manner in which to meet it . It is important to note that a blog is NOT to be confused with a general chat room, gripe session, or gossip session. Students will be prompted by teacher questions related to literary study, peer and teacher comments and responses. One of the assessment criteria is staying ?on focus? and contributing to the narrative inquiry study of the class.
The comments, research, reflections, questions, and answers of students and Mr. Youngs will be posted on the blog and able to be open to view by entire class. Only registered users, that is, the students, may use and view the blog. Everything on the blog will be kept in the class forum; that is, there will be no private messages between class members. As a posting forum, there is no instant messaging; rather students post comments and responses to teacher prompts, peer blogs, and peer questions. All comments will be authored; no anonymous comments are possible. Text and images must be that of the authors or used with permission or fair use and must be credited properly.
Why a Weblog? Blogs present opportunities of writing for an authentic audience. Blogs are useful teaching and learning tools because they provide a space for students to reflect and share their thoughts and understandings in an asynchronous discussion forum. Acquiring knowledge is discursive, contextual, and conversational in nature. Therefore, as students acquire and appropriate knowledge, authentic opportunities for expression of knowledge enrich and solidify their learning.
Blogs offer a venue for students and teachers to think in written expression, review interesting ideas, and pose questions in a conversation shared by many participants. By providing such an educational forum for expression, teachers can infer a process of strategies in scholarly discussion that students can make their own. Educational research shows the importance of the social interaction in teaching and learning. Because blogs can be commented on, they provide opportunities for analysis, feedback and scaffolding of new ideas as students revisit and revise their thinking. Blogs can also feature hyperlinks, which help students to understand the contextual basis of knowledge and meaning making, thus enriching the learning process of studying class texts. Thus, with a teacher?s guidance and facilitation of narrative inquiry students not only learn content but process in study as blogs represent the potential to promote intellectual interactivity among students, student-teacher dialogue, active learning, and critical thinking skills.
Blogs improve student writing. Research has shown that students who blog in class, when compared with students who do not, excel their peers in length and depth of expression.
Blogs provide an environment that is in some ways better than in class discussions. Oftentimes students don?t have the thinking time or opportunity to share their ideas because discursive discussions in class move too quickly for all students to feel comfortable enough to participate as they form tentative ideas and gain confidence in their understanding. Blogs offer time, focus, and space for students to try out new ideas, think, research, and respond to topics brought up in the forum. Everyone gets a place in the discussion, thus enriching it with full interaction, rather than only the ideas of a few. This in itself can be empowering to the learner and helpful for the teacher to assess the student?s progress. Furthermore, participation prepares students by teaching the dos and don? of collaborative expression skills in electronic technology; as public blogs are being used more and more at the post-secondary level, this private one at the high school level will offer good practice.
Finally, using blogging as an instructional activity offers various means to meet several PA Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening (please refer to the sidebar on page one).
Are there Rules? Yes. Students will be instructed of the rules of using this blog. Students will be expected to use the same good communication, respect, trust and common sense when blogging as when discussing literature in class. Students, who may be familiar with informal chats, instant messaging, and email, are reminded that, although similar in terms of technology, this weblog will NOT be similar in purpose, use, and expression. Students are to deselect an option for private messaging. Again, student discourse will be held to the same standard as they are when speaking or writing in class. Rules for student behavior and expression from the BPHS Student Code of Conduct Handbook will be in force and violation of these may result in disciplinary action, loss of the privilege of participation, and requirement of alternative assignment. Copyright issues will be explained.
How will students know how to blog? Students will be instructed in blogging and given class time to begin and use the technology. Students will also be expected to blog outside of class. They may do so in school or at home.
What is the blogging assignment? The general assignment is for students to participate in the blog a minimum of twice a month. They are to read and post at least once every two weeks. They are to respond to, or comment on another post at least once every two weeks. Posts are to be the specified length of 500 to 5000 characters (approx. 200 to 1,000 words) in length. Responses (comments) are shorter and do not have specified length, but should be more than a word or even just one sentence.
Mr. Youngs will provide a focus question related to the class? study of literature weekly. Students may post and respond to this focus question as a they would a prompt or raise their own questions or topics pertinent to the text we are studying in class. Students may also pose their own questions. There may be additional specific assignments once the blog is underway.
How will blog posts be assessed? Students will be assessed holistically on a rubric that includes such criteria as number of visits and posts (meeting the minimum), focus (responding to prompts, comments, literary texts), demonstration of original critical thinking, research, and abiding by the rules.
Who Can Get Access to the Blog? Is it Secure? Again, only Mr. Youngs students in the class will have access to the blog as writers. To ensure content appropriateness, and administrator of the host site will monitor the blog.
Students will set up their accounts during class with instruction and guidance. Students then login to the weblog with usernames and passwords which they create and keep secret. When setting up their account students will be instructed to identify themselves with their first name and last initial only.
Students will not have the necessity to share any personally identifiable information on the blog other than their first name and last initial; thus as classmates they will know who is who but no one else could even if they could hack into the blog. This means there are two layers of security: 1) only class students can enter the site and 2) if access is somehow breached, or general users view the blog, no full names or other personal identity information will appear. Having taken the above precautions, the BPSD and Mr. Youngs assume no liability for the content of the blog.
What is Required? Students will require a PC or Mac computer or iPhone and an Internet connection and browser. Students may access the blog at school or at home.
There is no fee. The blog is hosted by a free site. This company profits from running an ad banner at the top of the posts column and does not charge for blogging. (Ads are school-appropriate.)
Can I Preview the Blog? Parents may see the blog once their student has joined. By all means, students are welcome to share blog with parents. Perhaps this will open up conversations among students and parents about the ideas students are discussing in their literary study.
Contact Mr. Youngs Please don?t hesitate to call or email Charles Youngs: 412-854-8564 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments, concerns, suggestions, or questions are welcome.