Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Using Blogs in the Classroom

I have never really had the desire to blog before, mostly because I never really found the time to do it. I have a "MySpace" page and a "FaceBook" page, but unless it is June, July or August, I never look at them. Does it take a long time to post a blog? No, not really, but when there are a million things to do for work, and at home and soon with a baby, I find very little time to spend on "fun" things.

One reason I am enjoying this class I am taking so much is because I am being "forced" to make time to see and use all the resources available on the Web. As I was reading through "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Pwerful Web Tools for Classrooms" by Will Richardson, I found something that really caught my interest. In the six years I have been teaching, I have wanted to start some kind of Webpage or something that I could allow my students to access to get notes they missed if they were absent, links to helpful Websites, our book is on-line so having one place where they could access that would be very beneficial. He brought to light something called a "Class Portal" type blog and I instantly thought, "this is exactly what I have been wanting to create for a long time now."

There are many different things I could do with this portal. One would be a daily homework calendar right in the center of the page. Parents especially would be able to look here to see what was assigned for homework everyday and there would never be a question as to what was supposed to be finished that night. Another thing I would like to use this blog for would be to post all the notes we take in class, any examples we do that go along with the notes and possibly record the lessons and post it as a podcast. We are constantly being told to "CYA" especially for legal reasons and this would pretty much take care of every legal aspect of 504's, I.A.T's, I.E.P's and so forth. There would be very little way to blame a teacher if all of this were available to parents and students.

Would it work? What do you think?



  1. Hi Tiffani.

    You know, after reading your previous post, and then reading this one, I can relate to your frustration. My school doesn't have the resources a lot of other schools have, we do have wi-fi but it's spotty at best, and it's generally more of a hindrance than it is a pleasure using the internet at school.

    I am loving the book we have for this class, and am excited to try many different things. I love your idea on using a blog as a class portal, with a calendar for assignments, but I think we both have the same issue. How are we guaranteed that every student will see the blog? Do we know if all of our students even have access to a computer or to an internet connection?

    I think it can work though. With patience and practice, I'm sure you can perfect your blog and your students will love it and I'm sure they'll look at it as something exciting and different that will no doubt peak their interest.

    I'm curious though. In the last part of your post, you mention CYA, 504's, IAT's, IEP's... what are those? Are those standards you have to follow as a teacher in the U.S.?

    Keep up the great work!

  2. At our school each teacher has their own website, but unfortunately all blog sites are blocked. Teachers are encouraged to post their weekly homework assignments and parents have come to appreciate this. They will even go so far as to email teachers if their site is not updated. I agree that the possiblities to using blogs in the classroom are endless and the idea of using them is exciting. I am so frustrated that our school has blocked all of the sites. I am hoping that in the near future they allow access to at least one site. Like Cesar said, my only concern would be students who do not have access to computers at home. With a blog that contains a calendar and assignments, students who are homebound do not have an excuse to not be caught up with assignments. With the expansion of technology, I believe that eventually most homes will have a computer. I think that using a blog like this would be greatly beneficial to both students and parents.

  3. I really enjoy the book as well. I think that there are great ideas in the book that I hope I will be able to implement into my classroom. I know that in my district as well I am told to "CYA" and all the modifications that I have to make for those students that have modifications. I think that with the blog page and the updates that it would help. The only problem that I see is TIME. I know that I coach basketball and things just catch up with me really quickly. Do you think that time will play a factor in when you will have the blog posted? Are you going to do a post everyday or is going to be a weekly thing?

  4. I think perhaps I am in the minority in that on our personal web pages at my school, we are able to have blogs incorporated into them. Many teachers do not use them, but it does bring up another way to help students get involved through the use of technology. The only question I would have as far as the calendar is concerned is will you have the time to keep it completely current? I thought about doing one as well on my school website, but changed my mind after about a week in that it was an absolute nightmare to try and keep that thing updated.

  5. You all bring up great points. There are many pro's and cons to integrating technology into the classroom, but eventually the kinks will work themselves out and it can be something very useful and helpful to parents and students.

    In response to some of your questions - Cesar, the 504's, I.A.T's and I.E.P's are all legal documents that we have to follow for students with different kinds of accomodations and disabilites. Usually their accomodations consist of smaller homework assignments, tests modified and having an aide or an inclusion specialist to help with their accomodations.

    SYoung918 - Students not having internet access is the one thing that I can not find a good answer for. It is one of the things I absolutely do not have control over and I never will. I agree that one day an internet connection will be like having a telephone in the house, but until that happens I will not be able to assign "internet" assignements at home.

    DEidson & J.RSimmons- Time is my biggest enmy these days. I also coach basketball, teach all day and am taking these classes and it seems that I will never have enough time to add one more thing to my list. A few years ago my school had a homework calendar on the website that we used as a way to keep our parents and students reminded of what was happening in class and what we had for homework. It was a very basic calendar, but it did not take a long time to add the assignment for the day. I guess if I ever have the chance to make a class blog / portal I will have to use trial and error to see what works best.


  6. Tiffani,

    Do you have access to mobile labs or a computer lab? This would allow for your students to all have access to computers during class if this is an option. I was thinking about working a blog station in to my station work on a weekly basis if I can get access to our mobile labs this often. Just another idea...

  7. Unfortunately, I do not really have access to a mobile lab. We have a mobile lab that can be set up in the library, but there is not enough time or room to have access to it every week.