I have always been a big believer in journalling in the classroom. There is tremendous value in getting students to think critically about an issue, whether it be a current event, or a historic event, and then writing about it, knowing there is no right or wrong answer.
I did journals this past year, but upon looking back, the method I used was probably not the most effective. Who saw these journals? In September I would read them over, but as the school year got busy, I found myself with less and less time to read and comment on all of them. Journalling then became a private thing, and while I’m sure it was in some ways beneficial, I wondered if there was a better way to do it. A way where the students weren’t just getting my feedback, but other students as well. Where kids asked questions in their journals and other students offered insight. From journalling could there emerge a dialogue that was student led?
Flash forward to the end of the year when I discovered Twitter. Here was a large base of innovative teachers doing or looking for ways to improve the very same issues I had encountered. This is where I got the idea for doing blogs in my classroom. What a great way for students to write their thoughts and questions down and be acknowledged by their peers rather than just their teacher. A place where students could comment on each others posts, offering support, encouragement and to see others points of view in a safe environment.
Especially in the wonderful world of Social Studies, I see blogging as an awesome tool to increase dialogue, open mindedness and respect. Writing in a journal is quiet and often private. This seems silly to do, in a subject that has the word “social” in its title. I also hope that it will give others who are shy a voice in the classroom, as well as making students more accountable for what they are writing. Maybe it will even give students more confidence to contribute in oral discussions during class.
Ways I think (or hope) Blogging will improve classroom learning in Sept:
- Increase participation (everyone will have to contribute their own posts and comments on others posts).
- Give students who are less inclined, to participate in oral discussions, a voice and hopefully increase their confidence, to take part, in oral discussions.
- Build on their Critical Thinking skills i.e. help students to think more about why they feel a certain way about a topic, their reasons, and any questions they still have.
- For the students who always seem to finish ahead of the other students, it gives them an opportunity to keep learning.
- Students can interact with peers that they may not have talked to before.
- Blogging can be done at any time, classroom discussions can only go as long as a 75 minute block.