Blogging as a Cross-Curricular Teaching Tool
As technology finds itself increasingly becoming a part of schools and classrooms, it is critical that we use these tools in the best possible manner. One of these practices, becoming more and more popular, is the blog as a teacher tool.
There are many reasons why a teacher would start a class blog, and many insights a student could gain from the practice. It can help boost literacy & critical thinking skills, bolster a student’s digital skillset, be a hands-on lesson on navigating the online world, and foster deeper student engagement with a topic.
There are many platforms your classroom can use, from WordPress to Weebly to Tumblr. However, before you get to that stage you need to create a code of ethics for your students online. You can create the code of ethics collaboratively with the class, and sticky the post to the top of your blog, which acts as a lesson hub.
Okay then, let’s dive right in!
Whether you’re an English, math or science teacher, elementary or high school, you can be creative in having your students blog to enhance their learning experience, particularly to emphasize cross-curricular, outside-the-box thinking. Here are some suggestions:
Reflections on Readings
During class discussions, you probably have a handful of very eager students discussing the book or article they’ve been assigned. What about the quieter students? Some students are not comfortable sharing their opinions out loud. Further, this can be a paper-free way to keep track of student assignments & journal entries.
Essay of the Month
According to a study by Miriam Sullivan & Nancy Longnecker about using class blogs as a teaching tool to promote writing and student interaction, most students agreed that they write better when they know their post will be read by other students. Why not use this (positive) peer pressure to motivate students to write well? An essay can be highlighted that month as “essay of the month” and shared with the wider community!
There are oh-so-many possibilities for an English classroom teacher to get creative with blogging. Just check out this awesome blog about idioms blending ELA, Art and ICT competencies by Jenny Young!
A key part of the scientific process is for scientists to communicate their findings with other peers through scientific papers and this “communication to other scientists ensures that new findings become part of a growing body of publicly available knowledge that informs how we understand the world around us.”
But what about your students who are asked to write papers? What is their end goal besides a grade? If it’s not going to be published in a journal, how else can you the teacher motivate your students to increase their science literacy?
The answer is, you may have guessed… go ahead and publish it, but on a blog. It is also the perfect way to practice and demonstrate the ‘peer review’ process, a crucial stage of scientific publishing.
If your students are going to have a lab exam at the end of the year, you want them to have a clear recollection of the experiments they did over the year, and understand them. While handwritten or typed lab reports are the norm, another possibility is to have the students write it up on their blog. The additional factors of other students in the virtual world being able to access their results, and the ability to upload step-by-step images of the experiment itself, makes their experiment more repeatable. This is a great opportunity to get into how the scientific method is carried out in the real world, that “scientists must be able to read anyone else’s report, follow the steps exactly the same way, and compare their findings to the original test.”
Use blogging as one of the means of using art in the science classroom. Students learn the names of so many scientists, like Einstein, Coulomb and Newton, but who were these people really? Have students use their digital literacy skills, and learn some interesting history, by creating a video or recording a song about these great minds, then posting it online!
All in Order
There is nothing like a blog to share your digital lessons with students and their parents. Use blogging as a way to keep them all easily in the loop about upcoming assignments, recommended links for extra practice, and even just sharing fun videos to enhance the learning experience!
How else would you use blogs as a teaching tool? Let us know in a comment below or tweet out to @learningbird!