Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Facing Reality

At first, I thought that blogging was a very new thing for me.  Then, I started to think about the "Xanga" days in middle school where my friends and I would write about anything and everything just to be able to write on our "Xanga" pages.  It was a step up from our plain, old diaries with the little locks that you actually needed a key to open.  Then we had the electronic pocket diaries that you could type in as well; but when we found out we could write in our journals and post it for the world to see, there was no comparison!  I can remember coming home from middle school everyday and the first thing I would do was go online and recap the school day.  Now that the tables are turned, it is amazing for me to think how much more I would have been engaged if say, we had to go home and write a poem describing the day's events on our "Xanga" page as a homework assignment.  Let's face it, we would have been competing to see who could finish the assignment first!

I feel as though the following video is like a compilation of the readings we have been reflecting on the first few weeks of the semester.  The thing that I like about this video is that it gives the audience the perspective of 21st century students directly from students.  It has been interesting to read about the differences in the ways in which students learn today comparable to years past.  I feel as though it has been made obvious that if we, as teachers, want to engage today's students in the classroom, we need to expand the classroom walls.  Technology is one of the most important ingredients in expanding these walls in addition to its ability to allow students to connect and collaborate not only with their teacher and classmates, but with teachers and students around the world.

As an aspiring elementary school teacher with a subject specialization in middle school English/Language Arts I think blogging can be a great outlet for students to practice and enhance their critical thinking, creativity, and writing skills.  I feel as though students currently view the Internet as a place that they can go to as a safe haven and for leisure.  With this being said, it may not be motivating for students to just type up their comparative essay onto a blog site instead of typing it up in Microsoft Word.  It would be unfair for us to consider this an incorporation of technology.  However, if blogging is linked to student interests and meeting curriculum standards at the same time, I think it could be a very interactive and successful tool for learning.

As stated in the article "Why We Blog," "Don, a technology consultant, called blogs "be-logs" because he felt blogging is used to "log your being"" (p.43).   I'd have to say I agree with this statement.  Online journals should be about personal experiences.  I could see myself using blogs as a place where my students can become book critics for their personal choice of literature or present a "reader's guide" to their choice of text.  I would like to use blogging to promote reading outside the classroom.  Students should feel as though what the read outside of the classroom is just as important as the novels they are reading inside the classroom.  Eventually, the class could set up a blog where students can compare and contrast curriculum text with text read for pleasure.


  1. Hi Christina,

    I really liked the way you made the connection between blogging and your experiences with "Xanga" and diaries. It is interesting that as a child you were having a great interactive experience with other children, and yet this was never tapped into or used for learning purposes. I think you are right that tools such as blogs can help students to be more engaged in their learning. I like that video too--it is very powerful and is a great video to show to teachers when doing professional development sessions on technology integration. I like your ideas for using blogs in the literacy classroom--they are a great way to extend the discussion and learning beyond the classroom walls!


  2. Excellent point about Xanga, I remember that was really big when I was in about 9th grade or so. That could definitely be used by teachers as a type of journal.

    The one thing to watch out for with using Xanga for an assignment is it might breach the student/teacher relationship to have teachers reading their students' Xangas. Xangas tended to have a diary aspect to them. One solution would be to have the kids have dual accounts, one for their personal stuff, and one that is shared with the teachers.

    In either case, you might get people participating more in a discussion if you use the platform that people are most comfortable with. I guess the modern-day equivalent would be a facebook page?


  3. Christina,

    I love the video that you posted about engaging students in this digital era. I think that everything that they mentioned is extremely important for teachers to know today. We need to incorporate technology in a meaningful and engaging way to enhance the comprehension and critical thinking skills of our students. I think that it is important to have blogs in the classroom so that students are able to interact on a different level...not just type up their essay and submit it on the blog (like you said).

    I also really appreciate your views on incorporating blogging into the curriculum while promoting the love of reading. Even if students are not posting about books they read (which is definitely something I will use in my future classroom), but any type of interaction on the blog would promote reading and writing skills. Students would have to read the posts of their peers and then respond, therefore, they will be able to practice many skills. These skills are continually enhanced with the assignments that we will give them to interact with online.

    I'm looking forward to following your blog to see if you are thinking about similar things that I am in regards to teaching Middle School ELA.


  4. I love your blog! It's so colorful and fun! I love the video you posted as well. It was really insightful and a great addition to a very great post. I can't wait to see what else you will be posting. Keep up the good blogging!

  5. I also had an online journal! I used livejournal instead of xanga. It is interesting to read your experience because it was different from mine. I was always worried about other people reading what I wrote because of bullying so I had several different types of filters that I would use depending on what I was posting. I think that bullying is something that teachers really need to be on the lookout for if they require their students to blog for class.

    I also liked that you mentioned that the blog needs to be different than just an essay written into a blog. The Richardson reading went into that saying that a blog requires many more connections to be made and just writing an essay isn't truly blogging. In class the teacher might even be able to allow students to create their own list of characteristics of a good blog and hold them to the standards they created.