Educational Blogs: Expectations

After having read the articles for this week in EDTECH 597, I have realized that there are several items up for discussion when creating a classroom blog. The biggest issue deals with expectation. Weiler (2003) states that “there is no doubt that ‘blogs’ have great potential for educational use, both on their own and as extensions of the traditional classroom” (p.3).  There are many advantages for the classroom teacher, however it is essential to note that without clear expectations, even the best intentions may be destroyed.

When I first thought of creating a classroom blog, I would love to imagine my students actively engaged, branching out on their own to discover new topics and ideas and discussing Literature at such an advanced level that my colleagues would be overjoyed and wonder how the students remained so involved in my class. Suffice to say, the very opposite was true. Students were not exploring new ideas, they were doing the bare minimum. They were responding to posts and then logging off. So, in order for a classroom blog to meet expectations, the expectations of the teacher and students need to be made clear. Rome wasn’t built in day and neither can a classroom blog. Downes (2004) states that “instead of assigning students to go write, we should assign them to go read and then link to what interests them and write about why it does and what it means” (p.24). If I truly wanted to set my students up to succeed, then I needed to introduce students into the very heart of blogging, which is, according to Downes (2004), “teaching our kids how to learn” (p.26).

Every student wants to be able to connect to what they’re learning. How does this apply to my life? Even the most disconnected of students will tell you that if they don’t find value in the lesson, they will not retain it or even bother to learn it. The same should apply to our classroom blogs. Not every student will be interested in every topic, but they can find ways of connecting to it. If you have a topic in an English blog about Romeo and Juliet, you could have students come up with their own examples of Modern celebrities or historical figures in which there was a forbidden romance or family hatreds and blog about their feelings about it.  If you were blogging about an upcoming election, you might have students find out how a certain issue might affect their life in the next four years.

Expectations need to be vocalized daily to students. They need to be recorded by the teacher in the form of a reflection and in response to student posts, so that progress can be seen by all. There are a lot of factors to take into account when creating a classroom blog, but above all else, make sure that your expectations reflect an ongoing and reachable purpose and not a dream that is expected to appear overnight.

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