Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bringing Blogs to the classroom! (How I would incorporate a blog into my class)

Blogs have many possible incorporations into classes. As I teach Grade Six Mathematics in a district with very strict guidelines on the curriculum, I often run out of time for extension and challenge activities. Many of my students are capable of going beyond the basic curriculum expectations, but need the class time for the initial instruction. As we rarely spend more than a day or two on a topic and I only have support in one class, I do not have the luxury of taking time to work on a challenge assignment with my students and need an assignment that they can pursue independently with minimal teacher guidance.

I believe that I could incorporate a blog to provide challenge activities to my students. I think that they would not only enjoy doing independent exploration, but also believe that they would take the challenge quite seriously. As Kathy Martin suggested in this week's video resources, the students not only rise to the challenge of the content in the assignment when they work on a blog, but also engage by interacting and considering their audience (Laureate, 2007). The blog would also enable me to provide resources to help prepare them for the challenge tasks via the internet. Many of the benefits of online learning that are present in advanced courses such as ours will also be present in these mini-challenges. The students will be able to work independently, but have the opportunity to collaborate as they see fit. Additionally, they will be expected to use their writing and communication skills to explain their thinking. In mathematics, we are constantly looking to find ways to encourage our students to effectively communicate their thoughts and this provides an outlet that can be easily monitored and extensive in scope, but does not take away class time.

The benefits of a blog set up in this nature are that students can be challenged, are able to work collaboratively and independently, expectations are clear but intrinsically motivated and students can access the resources in their own time. I am also encouraged by the reflection of the young man in Mrs. Martin's class in the "Blogging in the Classroom" video segment, in which he said that he found the assignments more interesting and the venue a fun place in which to learn. He also remarked that he felt that the blog assignments were more "face to face" than the writing that he usually did in class (Laureate, 2007). I was inspired by the enthusiasm and sense of connectedness that this child exhibited after using blogs and I am encouraged to incorporate the resources in my class.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2007). Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society [Motion picture]. Teacher as professional. Baltimore.


  1. Nacy this sounds like a great idea to get students extra time to work on really challenging assignments. This would allow students to work at home where they are more comfortable and do not have distractions that can arise in the classroom. The only problem that I see that could arise while doing this is that some students may not be able to finish the challenging assignments at home. Would you allow them to finish the assignment in class and maybe extend the assignment another day so they could finish at home?

  2. Nancy,

    Currently in my 2nd grade classroom, I have students who are in need enrichment dictate the lesson for students who were not present for the lesson and assignment. They write out the steps of the lesson and then "teach" the student who was absent when they get back. What if you used your blogs to facilitate something like this? If you created a classroom blog that each student had access to, you could have them create posts that explain the lessons. In addition, every student in the class would have access to it, and could reference it if they were absent. What do you think?

  3. Nancy I think that using a blog for challenge activites is a great idea! I am a Secondary Math teacher as well and I know that doing anything "fun" or outside of our curriculum is hard so this would be a great place for students to take that extra step. Now that you have mentioned it, I may try to set this up in my classroom for the 2nd semester or sooner to see how they react to it. Also, with your age group, it would be interesting to see how many students could really understand a blog, just like in the video. I was so impressed that they were able to participate in a positive way and it makes me want to implement them in my classroom as soon as possible! Keep me updated as to how the challenge problems go!!

  4. Beau,

    The issue of completing the assignment and providing the appropriate support to help my students is certainly one that I will have to confront when I begin to implement blogs in this manner. I also worry about internet access and processing time. I think that I would probably avoid a stringent deadline for an assignment like this, especially as I see it as an enrichment opportunity rather than a graded component of my curriculum.

    If the challenges are incorporated as supplemental to the curriculum, I would expect that students would approach the "question of the week" (or what have you) and be able to contribute to the discussion as long as they still have more to add. Though I would hope to be able to provide class time to work on these challenges, I recognize that I will most likely not be able to provide adequate time to my students due to limited resources and time. It disappoints me that these constraints exist, but even with the imperfections, I believe that the use of a blog could make significant improvements towards providing additional enrichment.

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions!


  5. Haley,

    I think that this sounds like a wonderful avenue to pursue. This strategy sounds like a great way to allow more advanced students to help those that are in more need or have missed a lesson. Like many teachers, I am hesitant to ask a student to teach another student as it is my job to provide instruction, but this sounds like a wonderful way to engage a strong student in independent work and clarify their understanding of a concept with the added benefits of assisting the understanding of a student that might be struggling or working to catch up on missed material.

    I feel that this can also be expanded to allow all students to add their thoughts, analogies, and reflections to further elucidate the concepts being covered in class. The added benefit of a blog of this nature is the creation of a resource of notes in the students' own words.

    Thanks for the great expansion of the "challenge blog."


  6. Darcey,

    Thanks for your comment! From my informal perceptions of what my students do and can do, I do believe that my sixth graders will be able to interact well with blogs. I think that I will experience more of the learning curve in trying to determine what resources I should provide and how I can best lay groundwork to ensure the understanding of my students and a built in "safety-net" to help with students that may need it. I think that it will be quite the balancing act to determine the best approach to the challenges.

    I look forward to getting a glimpse of what you create and will appreciate any thoughts you can provide on mine if I am able to construct a blog like this during our coursework.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!