This post is in response to a plea from a teacher who needs help presenting her case to a committee. See my previous post. She wants to show the power of blogs in education. Here are some concrete examples I could give to help her plead her case:
My first blogging project was with fourth and fifth graders at J. H. House Elementary School in Conyers, GA. I used current events with a group of fourth and fifth graders as a springboard to teach critical thinking skills and media awareness, and to make connections with the school’s curriculum objectives. It was featured on Intelâ€™s Innovation Odyssey, A Place to Be Heard.Â See the class blog, NewsQuest , which has links to student blogs.
My second blogging project was with fifth grade elementary students from J. H. House Elementary School in Conyers, Georgia, who engaged in an educational blogging project titled Thinking and Writing Wrinkles.You will see links to the student blogs on the class blog. I found that blogging for an authentic audience motivated them to write. The projectâ€™s goals were to facilitate the process by which ESL (English as a Second Language) students develop their communicative language skills and to provide students of different ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to learn much from each other. My underlying premise was that blogs could be used as an effective tool to foster cooperative learning between native English-speaking students and ESL and provide opportunities for increased social, academic, and technological participation. In addition, I felt that the native English-speaking students could also enhance their language skills and have the opportunity to practice helping others with skills they had already internalized. Finally, I was sure that participation in cooperative learning experiences would improve language achievement and interaction between the two groups of students. Blogging did all that and more!Â The culminating project for the year was an ABC Blook on Blogs which students wrote and illustrated. It is good proof of the learning that occurred.Â
The next project at the same elementary school was built around the goal encouraging Â writing as a meaning-making process andÂ a tool for learning. The core focus for this project, The Write Weblog, was built around the Six Traits of Writing. The fifth graders also commented back and forth with students who were in a technology class for education majors that I was teaching at Georgia State. They posted advice to these students about good teachers. Emphasis was placed on developing student voices. Students began to realize that they had an audience who cared about what they had to say. Writing/blogging began to take on meanings they had not previously experienced. See the end of the year project, The T.A.G. Blogging Machine, which is a powerpoint that illustrates how blogging in the classroom improved their reading, writing, and thinking skills.
There are more detailed descriptions of these and other projects on My Weblogs Projects Page on by blog at You will also find other resources there that may help.
There is another good example of fifth graders bloggingÂ that could be useful for you. Check out Blogical Minds. This is a blog created to explore what happens when 5th graders blog and coverse about literacies in class and beyond. Â
The pace of change is rapid and is central to life in the 21st century.Â For once, I’d like to see education in the forefront of leading the way in helping students embrace this rapid change.Â Our students are going to experience even more rapid change.Â The ability to read, write, and keep up with this is of paramount importance. They need to be involved with a global audience.Â A good education does not necessarily measure up by just test scores. Students need lots of practice engaging in exciting, collaborative learning activities where they have to discuss, think, contribute, read, and write.Â Blogs offerÂ a place to foster this type of engaging activities
- Weblogs make students feel like they have some control over their work, a choice. Every time I talked about them it came through loud and clear that they liked having a choice about what they wrote. Blogs help with this aspect of writing.
- They like giving their opinions and can learn to back up those opinions with good data and thoughts. The wide audience they have available makes a difference. It gives usÂ an audience much wider than our classrooms
- Weblogs have given me a chance to build a learning community where I am on the same footing as my students. We write together. We talk about it being hard work. We share things that work. We learn to disagree in agreeable ways. it provides ownership
- Weblogs let me enter the studentsâ€™ world and get a clearer view of what they are thinking, what matters to them, to understand them.Â You see strengths, weaknesses, needs in a unique way. Your teaching improves. Their learning improves.
- Weblogs give students a voice that matters to them. It also empowers many voices, not just a few.
- Blogging uniquely organizes the brain. The dialogue of blogs forces clarity of thought. Itâ€™s up to us as teachers to set the stage for this learning environment. We are in a new type of learning and writing space that reaches out beyond our classroom walls. We need to have our voicesÂ heard along with our students.