Blogging has become a form of self-expression, self-reflection, story-telling and interest sharing.  But blogs in the classroom? At first I didn’t see it, even after hearing about it for years, I still didn’t get it.  But then, the lightblub went on.  Ding!  I’ve got it.  Classroom blogs can do/be so much more than another way to give students homework.  A blog can be a way to build a cooperative learning environment where students read, write, challenge, debate and build shared knowledge.  Students can practice, review and apply this knowledge and together, can gain a greater understanding of their own learning and the content.  Simply by participating in a blog, students are practicing their skills and concepts they’ve learned.  From debate the end of WWII to discussing the best method for factoring, students can further their learning and create that cooperative learning that so many teachers desire.  Of course, blogging has it negatives too, especially with math, cannot summarize and provide notes for students, it cannot provide curricular alignment, and blogging cannot always provide assessment to students, although blogs can be a tool with long-reaching possibilities, it cannot always do or replace something that is done by a teacher or in the classroom.  I can certainly see the use of blogs in my classroom, especially to generate discussion on current events that relate to our study of history or to continue discussions that began in the classroom, to the web.  I think that blogging, even more specifically, can be integrated into the normal rigors of homework/practice to provide my students with a more cooperative assignment that generates deeper understanding.  Hmmmm… we’ll have to wait and see, but I hope so.

Wiki wiki wiki wow!  There’s so much to know and learn.  I feel like the idea that all this information is on the web to be accessed and edited is scary and exciting all at the same time.  My first attempt at contributing to a Wiki was on Wikipedia.  I created a page for my school, since it did not already have one.  Its basic, but it has the general information on there.  Here’s a pic of what it looks like; you can also check it out here.

I also created my first wikispace, which I think will be a great resource for me as I go through the MAET program and want to work with a group to collaborate.  It is similar to a Google Doc, since your group can edit and share information, but I can see benefits of both.  Especially that a wikispace has the great potential to tool for my students to collaborate on in the future.  Hopefully, its not blocked on our school network (fingers crossed)!!  Here’s a link to my wiki:

When exploring different WebQuests, I few things came to mind to consider when design my own WebQuest.  They are:
            Can the students do this on their own?
            Are the instructions clear?
            Does the assignment reflect the learning goal?
            Are you assessing the students on what they have learned?
            Do this promote higher-order thinking?

I’ve posted the links to some of the WebQuests I liked in particular.

The Things They Carried – This is an English WebQuest that could easily be adapted to my American History course.  I love the multiple historical perspectives it asks students to explore and the group task at the end will really challenge students to construct a system of support or proof for the argument they will be presenting.

If we didn’t start the fire, then WHO did? – I really enjoy being able to connect popular culture with the study of history, especially music and movies.  This WebQuest takes the song by Billy Joel and instead of asking students to look up the lyrics and know what they mean, it asks students to examine tough questions like “What is the fire?” and “Who really started it?”.  Students are asked to give real answers to these intriguing questions.

Quadrilateral Who Done It? – For this WebQuest, I specifically liked the length of it;. It would be a 1-2 day WebQuest that students could do individually, so they could also do it at home if they needed.  I like that this WebQuest reinforces knowing the characteristics of quadrilaterals and ask students to solve “crimes” that were committed, but perhaps most of all, I like that it asked students to create their own “who done it?” problem.

Web pages and blogs are both an integral part of the online community, however, both have different purposes and uses.  Blogs are a medium from a single point of view, often posted in the Internet by an individual and may even have a specific focus, such as cooking.  Blogs also give the viewer the opportunity to respond to posts and provide additional perspectives, create an online dialog between blogger and viewers. On the other hand web pages are sources that can display information from multiple perspectives and provide information about something to the viewer, a much more stagnant form of information, but equally important in being able to spread information around global.
Its interesting when I began to think about the differences between these two.  I didn't think that blogs had much merit in the classroom, as web pages can provide more reliable sources of information to our students, however, the longer I thought about it, I'm more intrigued about the notion of using blogs in the classroom to create dialog between teachers and students.  What are some ways that blogs have been used successfully in the classroom?  What  restrictions are there?  What benefits are there?  I'm interested to find out more.