Literature Circles Bloggers
Literacy & Technology Instructor’s EduBlog

This was my first weblog project with Georgia State students. I worked with a group of preservice teachers in Lynne Jordan’s course on reading and language arts in early education. It was the 2003-2004 school year. I had a class blog with the instructor, Literacy & Technology Instructor’s Edublog. Students participated on group blogs, centered around Newbery award winning books.

I collaborated with Lynne Jordan, a clinical instructor, on a course on reading and language arts in early education on a project using weblogs for Literature Circles discussions. Small groups of students discussed a piece of literature taking on different roles that fostered discussion. One role example would be that of Discussion Director where “fat” questions about the story were asked to help the group have dynamic discussion. “Why…How…If…” The task was to help people talk over the “big ideas” in the reading and share their reactions. The person commenting on the weblog would answer the questions.

Newbery books were chosen for eight groups of 4-5 students. Students in this class had previously journaled in spiral notebooks. Each pair benefited from their partner’s writings and responses but weblogs encouraged discussion and interaction from many participants, not just a few. Using weblogs as the vehicle for student journal writing empowered students to use technology to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers and other audiences. This was an effective way for a class to learn how to transform a traditional genre to an online environment. The preservice teachers could in turn take this weblog model to their classrooms for students.

These weblogs also provided an avenue for the Georgia State University professors to see exemplary areas in students’ writing and thinking as well as areas that could be improved. It gives them an avenue unlike any other – sort of a window to peek into the thought processes of a teacher-to-be as she/he is reading and learning. Weblogs enable them to see what the students are understanding. You can see strengths and weaknesses in a unique way.

Connecting the Wrinkles elementary weblog group with these students also added a lot to the project. As Mary Beth commented, “I thought our tour of House Elementary showed a great example of how the proper use of a student run weblog could greatly benefit a school. It encouraged student writing and gave complete ownership.” Mary Beth would not have been able to make this connection if she had not been participating in a weblog herself!

The Literacy & Technology Instructor’s EduBlog was a weblog that chronicled the journey of the Literature Circles weblogs. The early education instructor, Lynne Jordan, and I used it to reflect and comment on the learning journey.