EDTEC 700: Blogging in the Classroom

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Morning Videoconference

Originally uploaded by bdodge.

Here's a shot of our chat this morning with Anne Davis at Georgia State University.
I'm using this post to demonstrate how easy it is to use Flickr to add images to your blog. So many great tools for free!

A Picture Share!

A Picture from my PCS Vision Camera
Bernie at work

A Picture Share!

A Picture from my PCS Vision Camera
This is a picture I've mailed to the blog from my Treo 600 phone. This is a first for me!

To mail a picture to your own blog, go to the Settings tab and the Email subtab and set up a mail-to-blog address. Then follow the directions on your phone for sending pictures to an email address.

This feature isn't just for phones. You can post entries to your blog from any email client as well. Could be good for quick entries when you're on the road.


This post is here to allow everyone to grab a copy of two pictures taken today: the morning videoconference and the class picture. We'll talk about grabbing pictures and uploading them to your blog later this afternoon.

Format for Blog Projects

It's clear from reading the draft ideas in your individual blogs that there is no single template that we can all use to organize your intentions. You're collectively doing a wide and interesting range of things! In most cases, the format commonly used for lesson plans will not be a good fit.

That said, I think there are some elements that all your plans should include in some form if the goal is to communicate your thoughts to other potential adopters. Here's a first stab at that list:

Title: Give a name to what you're doing. That way people can refer to it.
Author: Put your name here, along with your affiliation.
Summary: Put a 2-3 sentence summary of what this is all about.
Context: Where is your blog going to be implemented? With what users/learners?
Duration: Is this a 1 week project? 1 month? Or is it an ongoing environment into which you'll plug shorter term projects?
Goals: What do you hope people will learn or communicate through the use of your system? To the extent that your goals are instructional, specify what standards you'll be addressing.
Participants: Beyond the learners and you, is there anyone else involved? What roles will you and others play?
Process: What needs to happen before participants begin to interact with your system? What will you do first, second, third... etc. to make it happen.
Resources: What readings, web sites, other sources of information will you need to line up for this project to work?
Policies: What do you say to your users/learners about acceptable behavior?
Products: What will result from your system? What products or other outcomes?
Evaluation: How will you know that this was effective? How will you evaluate learning and other outcomes?

Captured Thoughts

Based on where we in the course, let's capture some ideas on how, in general, we might use blogging in education and training.

  • Rotate responsibility for kids to summarize what happened in school.

  • To deal with the lack of computers, use a single computer as a learning center, with students responsible for posting.

  • Recognize and honor student work: i.e., type in a student's poem to showcase it.

  • Use the comments feature for teacher (and others) to provide feedback.

  • Use blogging to nurture dialog among teachers, kids, parents, and interested guests.

  • Organize the use of mentors by bringing them in as guest bloggers.

  • Allowing reflection time for quiet people; provide voice for the introverts.

  • "Audience effect". Kids write more carefully for a wider audience that goes beyond the classroom.

  • Start small. Don't develop a lesson or system with all the possible bells and whistles in place at the start.

  • Get away from the notion that we're creating a website. Blogs are unique.

  • Pre-selected audience (pre-arranged by teacher).

  • Teaching the ability to dialog.

  • To work within the present environment of NCLB, high stakes testing, etc., pick a single standard to work on for every project you develop.

  • Pay attention to your local AUP on student pictures, identities, etc.

  • Issue: needing email for kids. Possible answer: Gaggle.Net.

My initial thoughts on how to incorporate a blog into my district's culture


These days I'm working with the office staff of 67 schools in San Diego City Schools. I'm involved with rolling out a new student information system to the district. My main roles are to conduct needs assessments, develop handbooks and job aids, and design the training for principals, VPs, nurses, counselors, clerks, and secretaries. Based on the limited human resource of my team of six, end users—the schools’site techs or power users, actually—are supposed to call the Help Desk when they need assistance. The Help Desk, however, has limited knowledge of the new SIS and also is inundated with calls on other topics. When the Help Desk receives a phone call, a ticket is generated. This ticket sits in a pool until an employee in the I.T. department can address it. Typically, the site tech ends up emailing or calling me, or one of the other staff members on my team. Figure 1 shows how reliant schools are upon the Help Desk.

My Vision

My vision is that schools are more self-reliant and less dependent on the Help Desk, that they can build upon their knowledge base by learning from one another. My partner and I have tried a few methods to accomplish this vision:

  1. Website. My partner and I maintain a website that has handbooks, job aids, and troubleshooting guides. But we can’t provide troubleshooting tips for everything. Things come up, like network and connectivity issues, that aren’t even SIS-related but affect the site tech’s job.
  2. Email. I send often send bulk emails to all site techs. Often I’ll recap various issues I’ve heard from individuals so they can get a sense of what’s going on. However, because some site techs are out of their office for hours at a time, they may come back to dozens of emails. I’ve heard that some of them often “don’t have time to read their emails because I don’t have the time.”
  3. Listserv. My partner and I set up a listserv for the power users. It was difficult to establish this as part of our support culture. It’s not often used.
  4. Buddy system. The schools figured this one out on their own long ago. Some of them have “buddied up” and will call or email one another for assistance. This bypasses the Help Desk rut, but what happens when the buddy doesn’t have the answer?

A blog seems like an ideal tool to meet this dream model of obtaining technical help. Site techs could post questions and they themselves can offer solutions or tips. I could use it to communicate news, like when a server goes down, or if there was (yet another) data conversion error. The blog is in one place. The site techs would not have to wade through emails to get to the information about the SIS. (One may argue, if they’re not checking their email, then why would they go online? I’m not sure about that one yet.) A blog allows them to “see” the issues in the district versus experiencing something and wondering if it’s just happening to them. It also provides the opportunity to grow as a site tech community. Figure 2 shows my vision of the dream model, where site techs give and receive information as they blog.

My Questions

My next step was to list the questions I have regarding how I might go about accomplish incorporating a blog into my school district's culture. Here are the questions I have:

  1. Who am I hoping will participate? Secondary schools and elementary schools together? Separate? Just secondary schools for now?
    I think that secondary schools would need to have a blog separate from the elementary schools. Their issues are so entirely different. As far as implementing this, I think it would be easier to focus on the secondary schools in the beginning. The elementary schools don't have site techs. Their "power user" may be a secretary, clerk, or other office staff member. Currently there are 22 high schools and 8 middle schools that are using the new SIS.
  2. What are the purposes of the blog? What do I want the users to get out of it?
    I want to be able to disseminate information easily. I want the disseminated information easy to obtain. I want the users to be able to pose questions here, where others can respond to them.
  3. How should I set it up? In Blogger? Or through a district webpage?
    I'm not sure. Please advise!
  4. Do participants need accounts? Do they need to log in? Or is it open to anyone?
    I suppose if I want them to be able to create their own posts they would need to have accounts. This ties into how I handle Question 3.
  5. How do I incorporate this? How will they know about it?
    There are three ways to go about this. (A) I could try it out with a small number of site techs, like the ones who I know would be more apt to use it. Then, we can try to build it from there, showing others how it works and how it benefits them. (B) I could email the site techs and say, "Hey, here's this new thing...here's how it works." (C) I could have a face-to-face meeting and model how it is used, hype up the benefits, and have them try it out. It seems that C is my best option.
  6. How regulated is it? Do I monitor it or let it go? Will there be rules?
    I'm not sure. There's potential for chaos. Ideas?
  7. What problems do I anticipate?
    I anticipate difficulties in getting them onboard with this idea. I can already hear, "I'm so busy already. I don't have time for this." And, as I mentioned in Question 6, I see potential for chaos and disorganization.
  8. As a result of this, what is the best case scenario?
    The best case scenario is that the site techs are fired up on this idea and they use a blog to share tips and solutions, and build a community. As we roll the new SIS out to the rest of the district (only 100 more schools to go!), they hear about it and jump on board, too. They're happy because they don't have to call the Help Desk. The Help Desk is happy because they're not getting bombarded with phone calls. I'm happy because no one's calling me anymore.
  9. What is the worst case scenario?
    The worst case scenario is that this totally flops. If there is no buy-in, no value, for the site techs then they are not going to invest the time to use this tool.

This is where I'm at with figuring out how to incorporate a blog into my district's culture.

Carolina's Lesson idea

Carolina’s Lesson Plan

2nd Grade Writing Through Blogging

2.2 Write a friendly letter complete with the date, salutation, body, closing, and signature.

To use weblogging as an instructional tool to teach a shared writing lesson on friendly letters

Introduce to the class our classroom weblog. Explain to the students that together we will be writing to another class from around the world and posting it to this page. We will be using the internet for this project. We will be discussing some of our similarities and differences between the classes. Later in the year we will be sharing our ideas on our favorite books and discussing what we are learning in Science and Social Studies.

The teacher will model the use of the weblog with the whole class, either in the computer lab or in the classroom setting.

Guided Practice-
Review a previously written friendly letter and point out the important parts of a friendly letter. Discuss the parts of a sentence and what a sentence needs to be complete. On the big screen TV write a sample letter to a friend with the help of the class.

In table groups invite students to come up with one question and one sentence to share for the letter. The student will brainstorm ideas together. Then the teacher will type it into the computer as the students are observing on the big screen TV.

Closing- As a class check the letter for correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Lesson Plan Ideas by Ron Pettis

These are my preliminary ideas about Lesson Plan:

This lesson would focus on early human ancestors for the sixth grade.
The students would have already read Maroo and the Winter Caves by Ann Trumbull.
The students will be divided into groups and given roles within the clan.The task will be to depict the history of their clan on the wall of the clan’s cave.
Their will be online resources provided for use be the groups.
Roles will have to be decided, what should be depicted in the limited space available.
Students in each group will reflect in a group blog on the process and their experience and what the cave art represents to and about the clan.
Students will reflect on what their current view is on the over-arching Early Human Ancestors unit question, What is it that makes us human?


To maximize employee reflection during their development program.

Lesson Outline

Introduce blogging by providing some historical information followed by review of blogs similar in usage to proposed development program use. Review a blog sample from the organization if one exists.

Have employees create blogs. Provide samples and technical help as required. Once setup is finished, provide a discussion topic and have employees respond to instructor and to each other.

When the test run is finished, brainstorm as a group, what possible uses and outcomes might result from blog use.

Extension Activity
As a review of the lesson, have employees post individual reflections regarding what they've learned regarding blogs and how they might use them in the future.

Debriefing/Evaluation Activity
Make guidelines about acceptable blog etiquette and minimum post limits. Link blog use to performance evaluations without dictating details.

Real-Life Connection
Agree to a date when commenting on each others' first posts will be completed. Have employee mentors respond to initial reflection to show high level support and interest as well as model a typical blog interaction.

Slammin' Poetry

I had a few different ideas, but I think I will take a chance and go with this one for this class. There are five parts to this blogging implementation, but I'll start with the background, and the connection to... lets here it for the STANDARDS! *cheers all around*

Background: Students will participate in a 3 week African American Poetry Unit in 11th Grade Amercian Literature class. The students in the class read at all reading levels, and 5 students are members of the Academy of Information Technololgy. After students have analyzed poems written by a variety of poets for stylistic techniques, they will start experimenting with poetry of their own.

*** Plan for "non technie" students: The AoIT students and myself will take 4-5 students under our wing. We will be in charge of setting up individual blogs, and answering technical questions for our assigned group. This way all students will benefit from the infusion of technology and Literature, and the AoIT students get "help desk" experience!

Standards : 2.3 Write reflective compositions:
a. Explore the significance of personal experiences, events, conditions, or concerns by using rhetorical strategies

1) Getting Started: I will set up a class blog that will be a place for students to post comments about the poems read in class. The poems are powerful and political, so students should be motivated to make their voice heard. Students will be able to add to the blog starting on the first day of the poetry unit.

2) Student Blogs:Students will set up their own blog and publish poems that they have written, or are in the middle of writing, to their blog. These individual blogs will be linked to the class blog. Students will be required to write a miminum of 5 poems to their blogs, along with 5 reflections (one for each poem), that reflect on the writing process: what inspired you? how did you choose your form? what author did you use as a model? Along with any links to cool poems or authors they found on the web.

3) Showcase: Each student will read one poem of choice that they have written, to the class while projecting that blog entry on the screen.

4) Publishing to the world: The class will vote on the top 5 poems in the class. Student will be given critieria on which to judge, so that it doesn't become a popularity contest. For example: which poem moved you emotionally? Which had the best rhetorical techniques? Which poem best modeled a famous American poet?

5) Extend:The winners of the class vote will be published to a Weblog: The MadTeahouse Poetry Slam where students will be able to receive feedback from poets around the world, and possibly win a contest.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Suzanne Kilburn's lesson plan idea

This is the idea I came up with for my lesson plan. Please keep in mind this is for a second grade class of english language learners. For this reason I can not see my students having individual blogs. Therefore, my lesson plan consists of a whole class blog instead. any ideas??

Anticipatory Set:
Review with students how we are planning on observing our bean plants grow as part of our life cycles science unit. Introduce blogging to them and show them an example of a classroom blog.

Students will improve their ability to communicate observations of a bean plant by taking part in a classroom blog. Day one lesson plan consists of students writing their hypothesis.

Teacher will tell students they will be closely observing the growth of their bean plant. Teach students that a hypothesis is a smart guess of what they think will happen to their beans. Teacher models an example of a hypothesis. Show students their classroom weblog and show them that their first posting to be made is about their hypothesis. Their job for the day is to go off and brainstorm what their hypothesis is and be ready to share it out onto the class blog.

Guided Practice:
Students will get into groups of 2 or 3 and brainstorm possible hypothesis with their partners. Teacher will circle the room and check for understanding of a hypothesis.

Indpendent Practice:
Students will decide on their own hypothesis and prepare it on a half sheet of paper ready to share it out for the classroom weblog.

Share out:
Students will share out their hypothesis and watch us the teacher models how to log this in their classroom weblog.

Listen as students share out and check they have an understanding of a hypothesis and ask "How does using a blog help us with our learning?"

What do you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Steven Downes article

I am reading the Steven Downes article and am interested in this debate about what constitutes blogging. I can see both points. But does it matter? So what if what the students are doing isn't true blogging, as long as it benefits them in some way. Yes, I realize that the regulation of the blogs stifles some of what they contribute and may not be a true blog. But hopefully most of them are being honest with their thoughts and feelings, even if sensored.

It does make me think now about my idea for my lesson plan: to have students write as a new character in one of their books, to keep a diary of the new character. Is that really blogging?


After leaving class and giving this more thought, I think I'm confused on the assignment. Please help.

I know that I need to write a lesson plan and come up with a way for students to use blogging as part of their learning. I am also supposed to come up with some mentor blogs for examples. Then I need to actually set up the blog for my students to use.

Here is where I am confused:
Do I set up a brand new blog on blogger.com? or Do I set up a blog through my blog under members? My students are not set up with email addresses, so how do I work around that?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Spammed already : (

What is "spam" called in the context of blogs? I can't believe my blog ALREADYgot what I would call the equivalent of sex spammed! With all the blogs being posted constantly, how did they ever find mine???

Definitely an incentive to not publish blogs to everyone!

getting creative

How can I use more interesting templates than the ones provided by blogger? I found some online, but how do I get it up on my blog?

Student Bloggers

I am no longer a classroom teacher, so I searched for Student Blogging. I used GoogleAlert.com which is a free service that regularly checks for updates on the same keyword search.

  • This project on bbc.co.uk has students in Essex blogging about their adventures. I linked to this because I think its a good example of how one of the largest media outlets in the world is using student blogs.

  • Kairosnews.org is a "weblog for discussing rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy" this article on Kairosnews.org is about students not taking ownership of their blogs during shortened summer courses.

  • Weblogged-ed.com is a good source for a steady stream of information about "Using Weblogs and RSS in Education"

Ribbon Cutting

It's opening day! The class meets this morning and I'm looking forward to a fun and intense week. This central blog will serve as a space for collaboration and consolidation. Each participant in the class will have individual blogs which will interact with this one. I've never done it this way before, but it looks like we're in for a good ride.