Building learning communities through blogging

blog wordSomething exciting is happening here! VPAA teachers and students are venturing into blogging for the very first time this year, and boy are they excited!Why? Because blogging is a great way to build a learning community beyond the classroom. Learning communities are groups of people who are “actively engaged in learning together”.

What is a blog? A blog is a website where a person (or class) posts articles and other people can comment on those articles. It is different from a web page because a blog invites two-way or multi-way conversation. The word “blog” is an abbreviation for “web log” – a type of journal published on the World Wide Web. Here is a great 3-minute video by CommonCraft called “Blogs in Plain English“.

Why use blogs in school? Blogs provide a public forum where students can share what they are learning, which gives them an authentic audience for their work and invites others to help them learn. Blogging provides motivation to learn more, communicate more effectively, and share what they know and can do.

Using blogging in school helps students to:

  • “Own their own learning”
  • grow with their peers
  • reflect on their thinking
  • learn to collaborate
  • improve their writing and digital literacy skills
  • understand that there are other people in the world who can help them learn even more
  • become part of something bigger than their classroom or their progress report
  • learn how to use digital tools safely and appropriately
  • begin to create a positive digital footprint that they will be proud to share as they get older

Many of these skills and dispositions are included in the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners as skills we are expected to teach 21st century students.

Who’s Blogging?

Mrs. Tew’s 6th grade science classes have begun blogging about their science experiments at Thoughts From the Lab Bench. After several lessons on “Powerful and Safe Blogging”, the students wrote reflections about an experiment. We then sent a tweet out on Twitter to let our professional learning network of teachers around the world know about the kids’ new blog.

Within a few days the kids had gotten responses from students and teachers all over the United States, and people in Europe and Australia had read their blog. They could tell that because they watched red dots appear on their blog’s ClustrMap. Talk about motivation!

The students have now engaged in conversations with students in Oregon by exchanging comments on each others’ blogs, asking questions, providing new ideas, encouraging each other to continue their  learning – extending their learning well beyond their own classroom. These students are more excited and ready to learn than ever before. Their learning communities are expanding, and along with it, their opportunities to learn – like thousands of other kids across the planet 🙂

Several other classes are beginning blogs during 2nd quarter…we’ll keep you posted here so you can see their progress.

Picturing America in Our Own Words!

VPA and other Lee County school students have begun posting responses to two new blogs we have set up for students this year. As part of a national grant, we received 40 beautiful reproductions of American art to display in our school. We are promoting the art and American history by asking students to study one selected work each month and post responses to it on the Picturing America blogs. We’ve set one up blog for elementary students, called Picturing America for Kids. Three Oaks Elementary and Veterans Park students have already posted responses to that blog.  Click the link above and take a look.

The middle/high school blog is called Picturing America in Our Own Words. Ms. Roszell’s and Mrs. Esponda’s students have begun posting responses to the first work of art – a painting of Paul Revere’s Ride. Mrs. Esponda’s Critical Thinking class will be selecting next month’s piece and creating the questions for other students to answer. Thanks to them for taking on this project!

Both blogs are open to all Lee County students for comment.