What advantages does a blog have for students sharing their responses to what they read? Where to start! If you’ve ever been around a kid or teen for longer than five minutes you know how much they love technology. Smartphones, iPods, computers, tablets, game consoles, the list goes on and on. Instead of schools fighting the onslaught of technology, we need to utilize our students’ interest in it to help them develop a variety of skills. Jenny Luca notes that blogs help students learn to communicate using technology in ways other than email or Facebook. This type of communication is common in higher education and certain workplaces, so the more practice kids have with it, the better. Plus, blogs allow parents to see what is happening inside the classroom and gives them an opportunity to engage with their child about the content and skills they are learning. Instead of hearing the same old non-specific reply to, “what did you learn at school today,” parents/guardians can read over the blog with their student.
Additionally, George Couros argues that blogs allow students time to reflect on their lessons in order to process and solidify their learning. For me as an ELA teacher, blogs offer the promise to engage every student with the reading, not just the select few who get called on in class. Plus, the fact that students are publishing their work on the web for anyone with a computer to access is a powerful way to give them an authentic audience. Every student will see their words on the blog and know that what they say, and how they say it, matters. Luca and Couros also credit blogs for helping students build a positive digital image; when students graduate they (or future employers) will be able to Google their names with positive results.
Finally, you may have heard about the new Common Core State Standards, which for us Michiganders are replacing the HSCEs and the GLCEs. In addition to an increased emphasis on reading, the standards require teachers to integrate technology into our classes. Jennifer Jones points out that a blog is the perfect way to combine reading, writing, and technology, while asking students to utilize their critical thinking skills. So really we should be asking, “Why wait?”