Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogs: Are They Useful In The Classroom and How Do We Use Them

I would use the blog in my classroom to get feedback from my students.  We create many projects in my wood shop class and I am always am in need of ideas for students projects.  I could use the blog to post different project ideas and get feedback from my students to see who is interested on doing that project.  I could set up a blog for each class and that way the students would be able to narrow there search for project ideas.

This blog would serve many purposes for my classes. It would allow my students to have a bigger part in the class.  They would be more involved and would be able to have a decision in what happens in the class.  By giving them more control over the curriculum in the class, in my feeling, they will be less of a behavioral problem.  I have tried to get my students involved in the class, more than just completing the assignments.  I have assigned student assistants for each class and those students come in during a study hall to help out my students on projects.

This is a place for students to interact about content.  They will be commenting  on project ideas and new topics that will be covered in class.  Some students will not have access to this blog at home so i will allow them some time during class or they will be allowed to blog during a study hall.

These blogs will help enhance my lessons greatly.  Getting my students actually involved in creating the lessons will help them learn the material.  It will make the lessons full of material that the students have decided on learning.

I teach grades 7-12.  In 7th and 8th grade, i have every student.  It is mandated by New York State.  In grades 9 thru 12 they have a choice whether to take my class or not.  I have to turn students away because i just cannot handle more than 18 students per class.

Blogs are great tools for instructional context because they allow for students to interact with each other and the teacher.  This is a great communication tool.  Some students might not be very active in class and this could be a place where they feel comfortable talking with each other.


  1. This sounds like a great start for an idea of how to use blogging. Not only will students have a say in what they will be doing but also it allows students to discuss concerns or ideas that may develop into new project ideas.

    One question I would like to pose is, could this also be used to introduce various projects have students decided which project they will use to present the information they are learning? Instead of just having students vote on which projects they like, can they choose which one they like and complete varied projects? Under each project that you post, students can share how they will use that idea to develop it into a project. This will allow students to use their own learning characteristics and abilities to produce a demonstration of understanding. This would also allow students to use each other’s ideas to develop their own.

    A few potential problems I see with the concept of allowing students to have blogging input on what projects they will complete is the possibility of heated debates occurring and detracting from the mission at hand. Blogs would have to be closely monitored and given exact expectations regarding what blogs should contain.

    Another potential issue you may face are that some students are genuinely just disinterested and don't care what they do and may not even do the work they are asked to complete. How are you going to get them involved in this blog concept and have them participate? What can you do to entice them to be a part of the blogging community of ideas?

    Could you not only use this to promote projects but also to display student work when it is completed? I think it would be a great tool to have student work displayed and require students to post comments, concerns, questions, and so on about classmate's work.

    I love this idea and truly believe that it is the start of many ideas to come from blogging project choices!

  2. I like the idea of having students use blog to post possible projects that could be done in your class. I do have a few concerns about time management and rules that would be implemented for blogging.
    I teach 6th grader and they tend to type more slowly. How would you manage the time limit allowed to post in a blog? Some issue I have experience with students when it’s time to type and they are always starting over. Students sometimes try to figure out how to change the font and color of the text. One thing I did in my class to address the starting over issue was students must hand write whatever information they want to type. Once the student has hand written it they must type what is on their paper. My students were able to get their work done in a timely manner.
    Secondly, what rules would be implemented to ensure that all students respect each other ideas? I know that student tend to criticize others idea when it’s an assignment that they don’t want to complete.


  3. I like your idea about giving student input into their work. Having students select what they do gives them more ownership over the assignment. This also allows for more creativity. If all the assignments come from you, the teacher, students can develop lethargy if they are disinterested. Giving them the freedom to pick naturally makes them more motivated. I am not familiar with exactly how your class works. Do all students work on the same assignment? Does each student work on his or her own assignment? Each student working on his or her own assignment can make for a logistical nightmare for you trying to keep everything straight. If students all have to work on the same assignment, I feel the ownership of choosing the project will be lessened, if not lost.

    Another challenge you may have is that of timing. I can only assume in your wood shop class, the goal is for students to make things out of wood. I would assume most (if not all) of the work would be done in class. Not all students have internet access at home. If this is the case, I'm sure they would not have access to tools and materials for their projects. Therefore, you will need to find time in class for students to both blog and work on their projects. I don't know how your classes are structured, but I would think this timing issue would need to be addressed.

  4. Ben,

    Your ideas for incorporating student ideas with your blog is great. Students always take a greater interest in something they have a hand in creating or deciding upon. A blog is great way to get the ideas of your students. That would be a quick and easy to way to take a poll on the next project you're going to work on.

    Do you plan to use your blog for showcasing student work as well? Students may be able to post their plans and get ideas for change from their classmates.

    Nice job!

    - Curt Gerbers

  5. Thanks for all the comments. I had never thought of displaying students work on the blogs but that would be a great idea. I do have display cases that i build out in the hallways but we cannot fit big projects in them. I had my 10th and 11th grade students build me a new desk which could not be displayed in the display case. Also we build a octagon picnic table which was very large also. I think displaying the students work would give them a sense of accomplishment and would also intrigue students to think about taking my class.

    Having my students respect others opinions is very important to me. I will have strict rules which i will have no trouble enforcing when it comes to an sort of bullying or criticizing. the students will be informed of the rules and have to agree to abide by them in the beginning.

    I have experimented with allowing the students to create there own projects. It does get very frustrating when all the students are asking what they do and i have 18 different projects to worry about. I am going to start introducing more than just woodworking projects so i can involve them in more technologies.

    Thanks for the input!