Category Archives: About Weblogs

“Am I Making Sense Here?”: What Blogging Reveals about Undergraduate Student Understanding

journal cover

I’ve been spending time browsing through these open access journals mentioned on my previous post.
The Spring 2009 issue of The Journal of Interactive Online Learning has an article “Am I Making Sense Here?”: What blogging Reveals about Undergraduate Student Understanding.
This study examines how blogs can extend learning and facilitate transfer of learned concepts. Blogging was used after a nutrition course was finished to document and analyze the learning. Blogging conversations were explored over seven weeks to determine what happened in the blog conversations and to see how participants were making meaning of nutrition science concepts. Students were asked to post 21 times (3x per week) and comment on 35 posts by others (5x per week). Most posted and commmented more often than requested.

Four themes emerged from the analysis of how students made meaning of the nutrition concepts through their blog conversations. The first themes had students writing about nutrition science from the context of their daily lives as they strived to apply what they had learned. The second theme had participants recognizing and critiquing perceived barriers to successfully applying what they had learned about nutrition. The third theme had the students viewing the news media as an expert source of information as there was no instructor voice in the blogs. The fourth theme centers on unanswered questions in conversations and how these questions indicate gaps in students’ understanding of nutrition concepts.

The study has samples of the orientation materials used and interview protocol.It’s an interesting qualitative case study that could get us thinking about directions to head toward in future studies.

This online journal has lots of interesting articles. Its aims as listed on the “About” page are:

Provide a forum for the dissemination of research on interactive online education

Disseminate ideas that enhance the practical aspects of interactive online education

Further knowledge and understanding of emerging innovations in online education

Foster debate about the use and application of online education

Reflective Voices

“Reflective Voices” is the name of the class blog I am using this year with the elementary bloggers. The classroom teacher’s blog is “5th Grade Reflections”. This is a great group of kids. I can tell it’s going to be a good experience. Drop by and welcome the students to the world of blogging!


I will be working with the class each Tuesday. We’re really focusing on “bumping up” the reflective skills of the students. Mrs. Emmert talks more about that here. I have been reading every thing I can get my hands on in that area. We’ll learn a lot from these students this year! Join us on the adventure!

Photo Credit: Through a child’s eye from Downtown Pictures’ Photostream

Beginning blogging sessions with elementary students

I’ve had two more sessions with the J. H. House students. Briefly, session one consisted of discussing blogging as a process in which they will:









We discussed the “craft” of commenting on blogs. The students commented on my previous post. They loved reading Harley’s welcome and made comments back to him. All this is summarized on my previous post.

Then to the student’s amazement they heard from Karen in New Zealand who invited them to come visit. This led us to Room 7 Tamaki Primary School and Tamaki Primary School Writers Group. What great blogs! It looks like there is much more to explore on this site. Unfortunately, we could not see their intriguing movies but I will work to see if they are blocked or what the problem is. There was no time during class to do this so the students just promptly got to the business of commenting and they loved reading the blog and making replies. They are jumping in and learning how to comment, how to invite response, and share the joys of blogging. Wow! Making connections is so much fun. First, Harley, then New Zealand – we have a fantastic beginning. We can only imagine what will follow! We had to adapt our commenting to New Zealand in that you had to have a gmail or blogger account. Harley’s blogger account let us just type in first names and urls. That was much easier but I will contact Karen and see if it’s possible to change that. Learning all the ins and outs of blogging takes time in the beginning but these students are quick studies! I can just tell it’s going to be another incredible year. The plan this year is that Mrs. Emmert will have a class blog with the students and I will expand their horizons in other aspects. I have lots of ideas. I plan to introduce the students to possiblilities and get their feedback. Developing reflective voices is a high priority. We have to figure out what is blocked and what is not and figure ways to share their learning, both in and outside the classroom. Mrs. Emmerts sends me her lesson plans and I can see that one of the things that they have been heavy into is the 6 traits of writing. That’s a perfect place to start. Now I’m off to create a new blog for this project! I’ll direct you there as soon as we get this reflective blog, the classroom blog, and student blogs going.

Any blogging classrooms out there who would like to connect???? Any others interested? Leave a comment……

Kentashia says…..

in her comment to my “I can’t wait until tomorrow” post:

Today Ms. Davis taught me you can express yourself in blogging. It sounds really amazing. I am ready. Let’s go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kentashia I am right with you! I am ready too! Hmmmm, much to do! A class blog to create, possiblilities to pursue, ideas to develop, literature to read and much more. I am so looking forward to the learning with this wonderful group of elementary students!


Flickr photo confetti from ADoseofshipBoy’s photostream


I can’t wait until tomorrow!

Tomorrow it’s back to J. H. House Elementary School for another project! I’ll be at the school each Tuesday to further the learning and explore new possibilities. I have lots of ideas mulling around in my head. It’s very open ended at this point. I loved the sign Mrs. Emmert had on her wall…

That will be a good topic for blogging! Tomorrow I’ll be introducing this class to blogging through this webquest. It’s good to get started again!

Reflection: Time Out to Think


Kim Douillard shares her National Writing Project “Reflective Friday: Time Out to Think.”

Kim is a codirector of the San Diego area writing project. She sums the lesson up with the following:

My students have pushed me to “go past done” when it comes to thinking
about their learning. Rather than depending solely on educational research or
learning theories to tell me what they are able and not able to do, I turn to
them for answers. They have shown me that in a multiage class such as ours,
they can benefit from reflective activities during the school day. They have
shown me that reflection is not just for adults, not just for university students,
or pre-service teachers. Reflection helps us to remember, to make connections,
and to make thoughtful, informed decisions. Reflection is a process for living.

Kim was prompted to action when she heard a teacher-researcher from Alaska talking about the volume of information that teachers are supposed to impart to students and about the lack of time in the school schedule for thinking. Kim developed a schedule for Fridays that really incorporated time to think and reflect. You can see the detailed schedule for the day in her document but it includes brainstorming, activity time when students let their subconscious minds reflect while their bodies are moving, recess, writing, free read time followed by sharing with questions and discusssion, portfolio work and goal setting, thinking time, dialogue journal, recess again (Yea!), writing time and silent reading, read aloud. Now this sounds terrific! Think how well it would fit in with our blogging.

Kim gives great examples and charts the types of thinking and how they change. There is much to absorb and think about in this and it reminds me once again how important it is that we blog about it and take time to comment/talk/share with the students. This is one of the best articles I have read about really giving more ownership of their learning to the students. Kim reiterates that:

Students who set goals and evaluate their progress have more ownership of their
learning. Through realistic, short-term goal setting and evaluation, students
recognize their successes, become aware that they are responsible for their
own progress, and are more motivated to work toward the goals they set.

I have plenty to reflect on from this article. Thanks Kim, for sharing! If you have not browsed through all the terrific resources from The National Writing Project you are missing out!

Photo Credit: Flickr Photo from BaSak’s photostream

Bloggers who make a difference

Harley is one of my favorite bloggers. He puts a lot of joy in classrooms and really gets kids actively engaged in learning. Recently he posted about the process of making maple syrup for a group of fifth graders in Georgia. He had read some of the analogies that the fifth graders were creating and he incorporated that into his post. What great reinforcement for these kids! They got to think and apply their learning in such a fun way and many of them tossed analogies back to Harley. Harley’s first post brought 53 comments from the students and his second post now has 41 comments! I’m betting we will see even more comments. Plus many of the students went on to create their own posts as they excitely shared all that they were learning. Wow! Talk about connections!

I love blogging with kids! I love the connections, the joy, and the thinking that abounds. Just think of all the neuroscience that is getting applied here:

Making it relevant….

Harley made the lesson personally interesting and motivating to the kids.

Giving them a break….

Blogging like this gives kids a break from the normal routine and it was a pleasurable activity that reduced stress and let them experience novelty.

Creating positive associations……

Kids developed associations by practicing creating analogies with a positively reinforcing strategy. (See Fifth Grade Webwriters Are #1)

And the best one, allowing independent discovery learning! These kids will no doubt remember and understand this experience becaue they had a part in figuring it out for themselves. There were choices of places to go to learn and they got to use their imaginations in the process.

Harley is not only a great blogger but has the makings of a neuroscientist too! Thanks Harley for putting all that joy into learning.

I also owe a tremendous thank you to Lani whom I had the good fortune to meet through a comment on one of my classroom blogs back in 2005. We have collaborated and learned much since that time and she personally has put a lot of joy into my learning and reflecting. Lani truly makes a difference in the lives of many….

When the fun stops, learning often stops too

Judy Willis wrote an article on “The Neuroscience of Joyful Education” that begins with this quote:

Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too.

This should be posted in every classroom. She goes on to say that “A common theme in brain research is that superior cognitive inpiut to the executive function networks is more likely when stress is low and learning experiences are relevant to students.” Now I have to ask how stress free are our classrooms in which count downs to testing and focus on testing is the top priority – the end all, be all? Judy Willis points out that classrooms need to promote novelty, eliminate stress, and build pleasurable associations linked with learning. She says plan for the ideal emotional atmosphere by making it relevant, giving them a break, creating positive associations, and guiding students to learn how to prioritize information, and allow independent discovery learning.

All this got me thinking about joy in the classroom and how much joy I have seen blogging in the classroom with kids. I’m thinking in particular of the J. H. House kids as I have spent most of my time blogging with them. My next post is going to feature one of my favorite bloggers who has put a lot of joy in a few classrooms over the past few days.

Linkin’ (B)Logs: A New Literacy of Hyperlinks

Bud pointed to a new article, Linkin’ (B)logs: A New Literacy of Hyperlinks, in the English Journal column “New Voices” by Tiffany J. Hunt and Bud Hunt. They are the column editors for the EJ column. It is a terrific article speaking about the read/write Web  in this participatory culture. The article posts about the obstacle of filtering and how it “blocks” us. I really like reading the story of Bud’s learning from blogging and the community of readers and writers he has met along the way. I identify with that and also with the teaching of blogging being hard. It is the building of a different type of community and this article helps us define the literacy development better. It is so encouraging to me to see this quality of writing about the learning with students. We need more articles where work with students is shared.
Bud shares on his teacher blog how he encourages students to focus on writing three kinds of posts: research-related posts, speech-class content posts, and classmate-related posts. He provides a detailed description of each post type in the article. I like how he tells the students that they are free to write about whatever they wish that’s relevant to their course.

Kudos to Tiffany Hunt and Bud Hunt for sharing their good work! I look forward to reading more.


badge_green.gifI know, I know, I am a day late with this post in recognition of BlogDay but hey, as they say , “better late than never!” I actually did start it yesterday so I’ll just look at it as finishing up today! Here goes!
I like the idea of recommending other blogs. That’s something I do a lot of anyway. So today I thought I’d recommend some of the blogs I read that I find intriguing for reasons other than my usual focus on kids in the classroom who are involved with blogging. These blogs are ones I thoroughly enjoy for a variety of reasons. You can’t go wrong adding any of them to your current reads.


blethers – The author of this blog is Christine McIntosh from Dunoon, Argyll, United Kingdom. She describes herself as a former English teacher on the loose. She is quite a writer and has a quick wit and blogs about so many interesting things that are not always on my radar. I learn a lot. In addition she is a photographer with an eye for unique shots. Her pictures have been the focus of many of my students’ creative writing ventures. They love her pictures, as I do.Here’s a great bonus for you on this recogniton of Chris as a fine blogger – she has two sons who have great blogs too. (Okay, boys thank your good mother who you know deserves a lot of credit for your good works!) Ewan McIntosh’s and Neil McIntosh’s Complete Tosh are excellent blogs.


I love the concept of this blog. Here and There Japan is written by a former English and reading teacher in the United States, Malaysia, and Japan. She spends her time taking pictures and writing about things they see, use, and do in their daily life in Japan. Her tagline says “snapshots of life in Japan, written especially for kids. It is a delightful blog and one that my elementary students and myself have spent lots of moments enjoying as we read, and view the fascinating pictures. I wish others would make similar blogs. Think how much we could learn about different countries and the journey is so much fun! So consider doing something like this for your country. She also screens her comments and welcomes them but wants to make sure they are kid-friendly so that is a great feature as you can be sure that all is “kid-safe”. Links are also provided to favorite children’s books about Japan.


goldengod iis a blog I came across when I was searching for images. The author is Andrew Ferguson who is a Vancouver photographer. His blog is chocked full of wonderful information and tips on photography. My hope one day is to have time to give to learning more about photography,I really enjoy his posts. They are inspiring. His style of writing appeals to me and I am learning a lot. He lists his top photography blog posts on his side bar. One of my all time favorites is “How to Find Great Free Photos”. I posted about that before here but I continue to find on his blog what I consider to be some of the best tips on the web about photography. Go add this blog to your reading list.


Things My Kids Say is a blog that makes me laugh and it is guaranteed to put me in a good mood for the day. It will touch your heart. This sleep-deprived mother of four from Los Angeles, CA shares pictures and moments from her family’s life. Here are a couple of my favorites, The trash truck is coming! and But I’m not tired!!!. We all have had those moments around our home where the humor and love makes it all so worthwhile. It is really neat to have a peek inside the lives of others who are sharing such good, warm family moments. Plus what a great model for other families to see. I have to disclose here that this blog is from my cousin’s family. I have never met my cousin’s wife f2f but through this blog I feel I know each family member. Now that is really cool, don’t you think? Thanks “sleep-deprived” for sharing those precious and those hysterical moments of your day! I love it!


My final blog is Word. This is the official blog of READ and WRITING magazines and it is just so appealing. It is a literary blog that has lots of writing tips, book reviews, and other tidbits of information. They just celebrated their second birthday. Word also has a My Space page. There are so many good posts on this blog and they lead to lively discussions in our classrooms. The blog features many different authors. I like the clever titles and the variety of subjects. They feature student writing- fiction, non-fiction, and poetry! It includes a spot to submit student writing. I think this is one of the few, if not the only, commercial blogs I have in my aggregator. It’s well worth taking a look.

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