Are these hot new social media tools like blogs appropriate for young learners? Many teachers say yes.
As Lorrie Jackson (2011) points out, “Although blogging in schools is still in its infancy, anecdotal evidence suggests that students’ interest in, and quantity of, writing increases when their work is published online and — perhaps even more importantly — when it is subject to reader comments.” As teachers we are constantly looking for ways to get students engaged in and excited about their lessons. We want them to understand real-world applications of what they do, whether that’s teaching fractions with recipes, studying pond algae to see if local fish can survive, or looking at how today’s laws can affect them down the road. Why not let them write to a real audience, even if that’s just their classmates and their teacher?
Jackson understands security concerns, and that’s why she recommends a few blogging platforms that are better for elementary school children:
- Blogmeister, which was designed specifically for teachers and students
- ThinkQuest, a blog-like system that is closed to the class only (or any students from sister schools that you might want to include as virtual pen pals) and does require your school’s permission
From this article, I clicked through and then clicked through again to the story of Pam Pritchard, a K-4 reading teacher in a rural elementary school who uses blogs (“A space,” n.d., n.p.). She uses blogs with students starting in the second grade and finds that they can use the technology to improve reading fluency and accuracy:
We’ve been working on summarizing poems by stanzas. For his audio blog, he first recorded himself reading a poem. Then he listened to himself reading, while following along with the text of the poem in front of him. He could hear that he had added words that aren’t in the text. He wanted to record it again. This time, without my prompting, he applied the rules we’ve been working on together. Then he saw the value! He read again, and that time it was better. And he made that connection by himself.
She’s doing this in schools that don’t have the latest or fastest computers, too. Could audio blogs or podcasting be useful to help students hear themselves reading aloud and to have them correct themselves?
Jackson, L. (2011, July 18). Blogging? It’s elementary, my dear Watson! Retrieved October 3, 2011, from Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech217.shtml
A space of your own. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from http://www97.intel.com/odyssey/Story.aspx?StoryID=302