Sunday, January 22, 2006

Blogging and Teens

My students were hesitant writers when they started out with me during the first days of the school year. They could not even start writing a poem or a story with a given topic. It was a struggle for them to write.

I also noticed that their vocabulary is very limited to simple words. They lack imagination which could be the reason why they were having difficulty with writing.

But technology opens new opportunities for helping children to learn the rudiments of grammar and composition, while encouraging them to share their work to each other and to the whole world. It is apparent that many of today’s students raised at keyboards and eager to exchange messages with their friends, are comfortable with these new technologies and eager to use them. Then an idea integrating this into my curriculum dawned to me. The publishing of my students’ works through our class website and our school website positively motivate them to write better each time (see: http://digitalanthology.blogspot.com ).

The readers (who are not only the teachers and students in the school but a national and international audience) give good feedbacks that make each of them smile and anticipate for more comments about their works.

The National Commission on writing asks for the time writing deserves in the curriculum. It explores how technology can be used to advance writing and examines the dimensions of a responsible and effective assessment system. I believe I have a principled idea for advancing writing in compliance with the district and state requirements.

With the advantages this blogging technology gives the students I wouldn't be surprised with this news:

MySpace soars to nearly 50M members in two years

MySpace, a social-networking Web site, has become the hottest spot for teens to instant message current pals and forge new friendships by checking out the posted pages of others. The ad-supported site, which outstripped eBay and Google in terms of number of pages viewed in November, has been attracting 5 million new members a month. USA TODAY (1/8)

ON THE CONTRARY...

Schools warn teens about social networks

Several Washington, D.C., area high schools are warning students against posting salacious material on social networks like MySpace.com and Xanga.com. Many students have been disciplined for posting sexually explicit material or including references to alcohol and drug usage. The Washington Post (free registration) (1/17)

With proper guidance from teachers and parents on using this technology, I still think that the benefits that we get from blogging outweigh the disadvantages. What do you think?

18 comments:

Miss Dennis said...

Hi! It's nice to see another special education teacher blogger here. I introduced my students to blogging last month, and some of them are writing much more than they ever did before. Do you mind if I post a link to your blog? I'm at Your Mama's Mad Tedious: Diary of a Bronx Teacher http://madtedious.blogspot.com

Take care!
Miss Dennis

TEACHER SOL said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a trace. Yep, let's link up, it would be easier for me to check your updates *wink! I want to have as much blogger friends esp with co-educators.

Lavender Dawn said...

If students are doing drugs, using alcohol or are sexually active, they are going to talk about it. But isn't that better than holding it in? Telling kids not to talk about doesn't mean that they aren't going to do it. It kind of gives the impression that that kind of behavior isn't acceptable to talk about. No, they don't have to give juicey details, but kids are kids. They have hormones, too. And I do beleive guidance is necessary for teens and such-I could have benefitted from this technology and from parent/teacher interference.

Mukesh Marwah said...

Informative blog and it good teacher r also participating in blogs best way for improvement in writing i think just write just write what you think. if student have interface of their daily dairy then technology improve not in internet but somehow different technology where they have fun with each other in by passing different comment.....

as every phase of life is for learning things from somewhere.....and if teacher is good then kids can explore good...................in good direction ...

cathomas said...

Students have to learn to use technology wisely just as they must learn how to drive, drink, or engage in any potentially dangerous activity. That's why parents and teachers are important. They must guide the students. Discouraging blogging will not stop students.

Fred said...

Most student now have Myspace accounts. As a parent, I keep tabs on each one, just as I would with their "real-life" friends. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.

KOB said...

I like your idea of a class project built around blogging. It's brilliant.

Clearly there are risk involved in unsupervised blogging by youngsters. But agree that with proper guidance, they can avoid those pitfalls. That said, I would include a meta tag to prevent web site indexing and caching and would also turn off RSS feed to keep it out of the search engines.

Good luck with your efforts.

TEACHER SOL said...

DAWN MARIE, good thought, I believe what you said here...

MUKESH MARWAH, I agree with you too. BTW, I hope this won't be your last visit here in my "cyberclassroom". You're free to react anytime to my entries. I will visit your blog too.

TEACHER SOL said...

CATHOMAS,hello there, great to be visited by another DCAWP Teacher Consultant *smile. You are so right "discouraging blogging will not stop the students". This is a PG activity.

FRED, I am on schedule of teaching some students to open a blog account, but I plan to give them some rules in blogging first. Good idea to link their blogs to my site so I can monitor each of them...

watson said...

Give someone a hammer and he will either use it to create a chair, or to destroy one. I think nasa tao pa rin how he will use a tool. But since we all believe human nature is inherently good, something good must come out of many things and outweigh the bad ones. Like blogging.

Napa-isip yata ako ng matindi sa post na ito ah. :-)

TEACHER SOL said...

KOB, thanks for your suggestions. Good idea, I will disable the RSS feeds to be safe...

WATSON, I've seen really nasty blogs, and they are real, true they're out there. Hopefully the good outweigh the bad ones indeed...

Major Tom said...

To be sure, the good things far outweigh the negative aspects of online media like blogging and other online social networking. I guess, parang sa television and books, if their uses are exarcebated and uncontrolled, it will similarly redound to bad things...

TEACHER SOL said...

Just visited Major Tom's blog and found a short write-up about my site. It reads:

TEACHER SOL re-emphasizes the increasing utility of blogging in the realms of education as she details how this new form of media allows the fulfillment of learning---increasing vocabulary and fine-tuning language use among students. Improvement in her students grammatical ability had made it a good idea to integrate online learning in her class curriculum.

Aside from the learning aspect, blogging also allows interaction as students are wont to share their ideas online that altogether blogging offers an entirely new and refreshing educational experience.


Thanks for the plugging, Major Tom!

LoraLoo said...

I do believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I think it's a great idea to introduce ideas such as blogging to students and guide them in the right direction with it.

Coming from an IT perspective it's important children are made aware of technology's benefits as well as their dangers. Teaching them online safety and staying aware of their activities online as parents is very important.

Lucy Stern said...

I would much rather see kids blogging than playing those computer games.

Anonymous said...

Liz from I Speak of Dreams here. I found your blog from a comment you left at....(goes & finds cookie crumb trail)the fellow I have in my blogroll as Ukiah Teacher,

http://ukiahcoachbrown.blogspot.com/2006/01/super-freak.html


I wrote a lot about blogging & social networking software last month--here is a good starting place, if you are interested:

Schools, Blogs, Xanga, MySpace...What's it all about, Alfie?
(that gets you to part III)

And just so you know, there are some great safety sites:

I think teens need to think about the REAL biggest danger: what you post online may come back to haunt you. As Larry Magid writes:

"One of the nice things about blogs is that you can post just about anything. But just because you can post anything doesn't mean you should. Remember, anything you post can not only be seen by others but can easily be copied and stored. So, what you post can be held against you. Something that seems very cool right now may not seem so cool two or three years from now, when you're sending around applications for schools or jobs. So think just a bit about your future before you post that incendiary comment or that inappropriate photo. Besides, what may seem appropriate or even funny to friends right now can be used against you when there are disagreements, breakups, etc. - in blogs, email, IMs, and even file-sharing networks."

Safety tips at MySpace:

http://www.myspace.com/misc/safetytips.html

Larry Magid (a tech columnist and very well respected) three sites for kids and teens that I personally prefer to wiredsafety.org:

http://www.SafeKids.com
http://www.blogsafety.com/
http://www.safeteens.com/

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has two pages parents and teens should read together:

Legal guide for bloggers:
http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/

Student Bloggers' FAQ
http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-students.php

At any rate, looking forward to getting to know you better.

todd said...

Last school year, I just have my freshmen create blogs. This year, all of my students (juniors and seniors) have a Blogger account and are working on weekly entries related to outside reading. I check entries every 2 weeks and I have a page where all of my students' blogs are listed. I just click down the list to check the assignment (although an RSS feed that gives the number of entries for each person would make things much easier).

I think it's ridiculous to even consider not allowing the opportunity to blog to students. It's writing and we want to make it harder for them to do it? We want to take a writing venue that most students enjoy away from them? That's crazy talk!

The negatives of blogging aren't worth mentioning in this argument. Most negatives tend to be paranoid delusions that can be quickly circumvented with a little education and parent/teacher involvement in the blogging process early on to set the model for expected behavior. Since Blogger has comment moderation, all comments are subject to censorship, which in this case might not be such a bad thing (I hate to say that about censorship, but...).

I'd like to have all my students blogging in a closed system that you'd have to login to read or comment on, but I'm not bent out of shape to have them all on Blogger and I don't think I'm putting anyone at risk. They know not to use last names and I try to monitor for that. I have everyone's login and password on file so I can delete anything that might put someone near any trouble and having their writing open to the entire world keeps them diligent about what they write.

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