Friday, June 17, 2005

Structure

We came up with a structure (which has been flexible but we have basically stuck to this order):
Week 1
Introduction: Students set up personal blog(in class) and email the link to the teacher. Teacher to set up a class blog with links to all students blogs (after class)
Week 2
Editing: Show students how to make changes to previous posts (in class). Homework to correct first posting.
Communication (Respond): Students to write one question and post on their blog (in class). Students to access peer blogs and use the comment function to answer the question (in class – to be finished out of class).
Week 3-8
5Rs (Respond, Reflect, Review, Rave, Rant)
Class 1: To do autonomously throughout term choosing between any of the 5Rs (Emily)
Class 2: Follow the 5Rs systematically through tasks set by the teacher (Karen)
Week 9
Review: Students to look at the other classes blogs and to comment.
Questionnaire. Survey

It's a new beginning (Term 2, 2005)

Karen and I are excited with the prospect of blogging with our classes. We decided that we needed to be a bit more organised and at least have a more structured approach to how we use blogs in the classroom.

Both Karen and I had used blogs on our own trips away in 2004 (Karen to India and me to Chile) and had found them to be a useful way to tell our adventures and thoughts to a large audience. Blogs are great because they are authentic in that if you post something on your blog it is there for other people to read. Often in classrooms we ask students to write things that are only intended to be read by their teacher so we decided that we would introduce blogs as a way of providing students with a larger authentic audience.

Since we were planning on using our students to test our approaches and ideas for using blogs to help students improve their English we had to get ethics approval. Ethics approval was relatively straight forward and after a few minor changes we have approval to start asking students what they think of blogs, blogging in general and how they think blogs can and do improve their language learning.

Why didn't it work?? (Term 1, 2005)

Found myself sharing a lovely class with 2 other teachers. I only taught these students on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for a total of 4 hours. Despite such a short time with them I felt that we bonded well and that they were happy to try to "things" (well most of them anyway!).

In the second week of term I took the class into the lab and introduced them to BLOGGING. Most of them caught on quickly. The task was to create a blog account and then to introduce themselves (to the world) via a blog posting. As usual there were some fantastic entries and some that were, well, not so fantastic, in fact some were non-existant!

Anyway, all students were able to create an account so I linked all of their blogs to a posting on our main class blog. One particular student did a fabulous job of adding to her blog on almost a daily basis. She was a very bright student and was highly motivated. In class she was often quite shy but with the use of blogs she seemed to feel less inhibited. She had no additional guidance insofar as what blogs can and are used for but she started with basic journal type entries and went on to practice descriptive writing and to review a reader that she had been reading.

Unfortunately due to a sudden unexpected growth in numbers in our programme I had to leave this class and teach another group of students so I was not able to encourage students to continue with their use of blogs. This resulted in all of the blogs staying dormant!! Arrrrggghhh!!