Thing 4: Reading Blogs/Analyzing the Nature of Blogs

Blog writing appears similar to other personal narrative writing and is quite similar to keeping a journal with a much wider potential audience. Reading a blog is very similar to reading newspaper editorials but is dissimilar in that comments are “public” at least to those allowed to view the blog. The comments are also in essence written in “permanent ink”. The responsibility of the blogger and the commentators as writers is rather heavy in that any idea or comment is published for posterity. Blogging can facilitate learning for both the bloggers, the readers, and the commentators in that the commentary can help the blog writer reflect upon and hone his/her ideas. The commentators and readers can try to incorporate the ideas into their lives. The open and possibly unending nature of the blog leads to lots of opportunities to tweak and revise for both the idea originator and the followers.

Shelley included several interesting blogs in her recommendations list. I agree in many ways with Dan Meyer in his stance on homework. I would rather have students practice and work on projects under my supervision instead of sending the work home. I hold students accountable for studying their notes and other materials at home but like for formative assessments and exercises to be completed during class. In The Trumpet of the Swans blog, fourth graders had a chance to tell the most important lesson learned form reading the novel. I can see great potential in using a blog such as this in my sixth and eighth grade lit classes. By posting an open ended question and having students respond, peers will have a chance to see many different approaches to the question. Nothing challenges a student like a provocative idea from another student. Chris Betcher makes a point I have found to be valid in my technology experiences with students: just because students have been exposed to technology all their lives does not mean they are proficient with academic and business tools. Playing games on the computer does not translate into the ability to use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel correctly and efficiently. In Ten Ways to Encourage Students to Take Responsibility for Their Learning, the author lists some of my favorite practices. I often ask open-ended questions and allow students to modify a technology based product as long as the desired research/content is included. Kris Bradburn’s How to Prevent Another Leonardo da┬áVinci struck a note with me after working with TAG students for over fifteen years. In order to meet the needs of our most highly creative and intellectually inquisitive individuals, we must rethink the “factory” approach to education which limits and discourages many of the individuals who will most probably be the cutting edge thinkers of their generation. While it is hard to stifle them completely, encouraging them would be better for a bright and prosperous future for all.

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