Hi there!We can all agree that as teachers professional development is important right? Well Steve Wheeler brings up some really interesting way we can achieve individual and collaborative professional development through blogs! In Wheeler's blog "Seven reasons teachers should blog" he discusses teacher self-reflection about their actions, decisions, processes, successes and failures. All of this information can be recorded onto a blog and then be easily accessed later on. In this format a blog works as a digital filing cabinet where teachers can type in keywords to help help easily find a lesson or teaching strategy they want to reflect on or even reuse! This allows teachers to see what worked or didn't work and then decide if they want to reuse the idea or talk it over with someone to work out what went wrong.
On a similar note teachers can also gain valuable feedback through other teachers! This is the best because they may have zero idea why a lesson failed or what to do to make it better and someone may hop on their blog and help them solve their issue.
Blogging with Students
Not only can teachers use blogs to help express and reflect but students can too! According to Rita Zeinstejer by using authentic and meaningful tasks students will become more engaged and learn more from the content. By being able to interact with the material in an authentic way they will see the use and purpose of the activity and be more inclined to participate enthusiastically. Through blogs students can publish their writing allowing experts or mentors from outside the classroom to add their comments, and this is a true exchange of opinions. Students can even satisfy standards through blogs!
Performance Indicator -Students can produce written narratives and expressions of opinion about radio and television programs, newspaper and magazine articles, and selected stories, songs, and literature of the target language. This standard can be easily accomplished with a blog! They can read one of the previously mentioned texts online and then respond in a meaningful way on their blogs. Then they can create a community of practice by commenting on other students opinions.
This feeds into another performance indicator -this indicator states that students can engage in extended discussions with native or fluent speakers on a broad range of topics that extend beyond their daily lives and are of general interest to the target cultures. This standard can be more easily accomplished with blogs than any other avenu. There are an abundance of blogs by native or fluent speakers on an enormous range of topics and are about the target culture!
In addition to to achieving the standards students can also create an ongoing portfolio of samples of their writing. This is amazing because ESL students can see how their writing has changed and grown over just one year. They then can keep adding to their blog so their ideas are all in one place just in case they want to revisit something!
I hope that you will consider using blogs in the classroom, I know I will!