Apr 26, 2012

Blogs are windows on the world

(Source: Blog3k)

What do you expect from this workshop?

What is a blog? A window or...?

(Source: OLX)
1. Are you a blogger? 

Ask the colleague sitting next to you and discover who among us is:
b) a BLOGGER (did you reach your 100th post milestone?)

c) or simply a brave 21st century teacher?

(For those of you wondering why I asked ONLY about a gmail (Google) account... please take a a look at this same point of view: The Nerdy Teacher: Dear Microsoft...)

Starting a blog can involve a considerable amount of time: have a look at this infographic showing what's going on in a blogger's mind and go through this short quiz before you decide seriously if a blog is right for you.

2. What is a blog?

(Source: Flickr)
- Read this brief introduction

- Watch this video

"Blogging is the act and art of researching, crafting, updating and maintaining a blog about a particular topic (or topics) for a specific, intended audience".

Speaking about classroom blogging, we could define a blog an online publishing forum for your students. It’s a platform in which they can interact beyond the constraints of the school walls, and with which the teacher can provide personalised feedback and support.
This is the reason why I call them windows. Because they are totally open vehicles for communication. There are very low barriers to entry. They can be used to enrich the classroom context opening it up to real life contents; in the meanwhile the outside world starts having a window into students' lives. 
But if we have a look from another point of view we’ll see they are much more than just windows. They are WEB 2.0 tools.

3. Teachers, blogs and edublogs

(Source: Blogs para educar. Usos de los blogs en una pedagogía constructivista. Tíscar Lara)

Self-reflection is a hallmark of many teachers' blogs, the first stop for most teachers who want to try blogging.

Some teacher decide to manage a classroom blog to keep contents up to date and improve communication with (younger) students. According to its functions, contents and users, we could identify it according to this map.
Mainly, teachers support the learning process publishing activities, tasks and texts directly related to classroom programming, and/or give their students a PLE, proposing different and complementary activities, links and texts.

But only a few blogs succeed encouraging students' production of content (making them curators of information) and consequentely the development of basic skills such as:
- Digital competences
- Text organization
- Written (and sometime spoken) interaction
- Construction of personal values and identity (learners consciousness and autonomy)
- Social awareness and responsability (horizontal relationships)

Are your students bloggers?
Do they often comment or publish their own posts and texts?
(Here are some examples: debate Dibattito di Quelli di Secondo, comment on readings Leggiamo, events viaggioQualcosa di noi).

Further online reading:

4. Tips&tricks

(Sources:  Siebel Essentials BlogThe Edublogger and Eva)

There are thousand of interesting new blogs, as well as a large number of blogs which are obviously the result of reckless copying and pasting. Like this one of course!!!
So you want to blog too? Then read on, as I am in a generous mood ;-) and I am willing to share some tips for successful blogging.

Before you start, you HAVE TO:

  • Always keep in mind your purpose
  • Create your own content:
    - organize it (paragraphs, headings, links, tags)
    - make it nice (use eye catching titles, graphics and images)
    - leave open questions to encourage comments
    - check it and re-edit before publishing
  • Quote (and remember copyright)
  • Be consistent (style, schedule, everything!)
  • Share as much as you can (social plugins)
  • Check comments on a regular basis (and reply to all of them)

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