The Wikipedia definition of pedagogy is the art or science of teaching. Pedagogy is also sometimes referred to as the correct use of teaching strategies. I also found these definitions of pedagogy on the web. There are several at this link.

This one resonates with me:

The strategies, techniques, and approaches that teachers can use to facilitate learning.

I particularly like this definition. Facilitating learning is our job. As I have been exploring the world of blogs over the past four years, I believe that my strategies, techniques, and approaches have improved due to the very nature of blogs. I’ve tried to capture the right word for these “pieces” of blogging that enable us to improve our instruction, techniques and strategies in ways that are not possible without the tool. In a way it’s like a new approach to learning that has been given to those of us who teach. I’ve called these pieces components, attributes, aspects, traits, elements. None seem to fit perfectly but I think attributes comes closest.

These attributes foster the promise of good pedagogy. Blogs are unique in the ways they offer teachers incredible possibilities to build on the pedagogy

For instance, blogs can provide an opportunity to change our writing instruction to make it more meaningful and relevant for our students. Many times our classroom assignments are assignments where students reiterate or restate information they have read with an occasional opinion. Generally just the teacher will see the paper. Blogging lets many more become engaged. Blogging can be a place where we can make connections and dig deeper into how and what we are learning, both student and teacher. Sharing these thoughts and discoveries with others builds networks of learning that can cross continents. We get to toss our ideas out, have reactions to them, receive suggestions to build upon them and many more become involved in the process. It becomes more personalized and certainly more meaningful. Students are creating meanings that make sense to them because they are constructing them, not having pieces delivered to them that they just repeat.

Blogging has helped me view each of my students as constructors of knowledge who need frequent opportunities to be involved in the process of creating meaning. Blogs can be short, quick writes that give them the practice they need to learn from putting their thoughts down and then engaging in the dialogue about the process, both online and in the classroom…

So on to the attributes of blogging that show promise for developing our pedagogies in whatever content area we teach:

Audience & Comments Having a worldwide audience who can read what students write brings forth recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students are used to the teacher being the only audience for their work. The realization that others think that what they have to say is important is empowering. They are amazed. I recall one student whose highlight for the year was having a high school student say that his writing made a difference. In another scenario I had a group of elementary students who were concerned that their writing would not be good enough for a group of high school students who were reading their blogs. It’s not that they didn’t want to try but what was important to them is that their writing be good in the eyes of their audience. We cannot create that with an audience of one.

Voice – Blogging can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. They can explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning. Blogs give students a place for that voice to be heard by many. Many students that would be hesitant to speak in a classroom will share their ideas on a blog.

Conversations & Dialogue – The dialogue that goes on in our classrooms about our learning through blogging is the key to getting conversations and then postings that promote critical thought by students. Here the teacher is the catalyst for helping develop an atmosphere that encourages and respects the learner and their ideas. Ideas have to be nurtured, explored and discussed. Blogs put us on a learning path together with our students where we can shape new learning environments for the future. Blogs also offer incredible opportunities for dialogue and the social construction of meaning.

Ownership & Choices – Blogs help lead us away from students from seeking to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. They want to do better. Giving students a choice in making their own connections about their learning on blogs paves the way for blogs to be constructivist tools for learning. These attributes are compelling and powerful motivators that help us shape the pedagogy.

Archives – Having records of the learning that is ongoing facilitates learning and evaluation in a much easier and efficient matter. One student put it to me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why. This lets us approach evaluation in reflective ways.

So in closing I’d like to share one of my previous posts that speaks to pedagogy and is my vision of one way blogging could really make a difference.

Picture tomorrow’s schools…

My day began by reading this quote…..

“Write daily for 15 to 30 minutes. Many scholars believe that writing requires big blocks of time. They’re wrong. Research shows that scholars who write daily publish far more than those who write in big blocks of time. The problem with big blocks of time is that they’re hard to find. In contrast, when you write daily, you start writing immediately because you remember what you were writing about the day before. This leads to impressive production. “

This came from Tomorrow’s Professor Mailing list. The author is Tara Gray. This reading led me to this thought and hope….

Picture tomorrow’s schools. At schools across the nation writing is considered of paramount importance. The day begins with everyone writing on their own personal school blog. The first 15 minutes of each day is reserved to reflect on what they have learned, what they wish to learn, or to explore some aspect of their learning. Teachers, staff and administrators do the same. Writing is valued by our society. Time is provided for discussion about what is learned from the writing. Blogs are viewed as places to have honest, open dialogue about issues of the day. Writing helps the students become better readers and thinkers. Students and teachers are learning from each other as they reflect critically from available information and understandings. Assessments of student learning are easily made through these blogs so the need for standardizing testing as a single unit to measure achievement has been eliminated, Previous time spent testing is now spent writing

I would welcome any ideas, inspirations, thoughts you’d like to share about the attributes of blogging that show promise for developing our pedagogies to facilitate learning.