I have learned SO much this year from blogging and (especially) from reading blogs. Well, if I’ve learned so much through this specific kind of reflection, shouldn’t my students be able to learn from it? I’ve seen websites that mention blogging for students, but I never really considered what the students should blog about that would be worthwhile, especially in math.
One thing I’m really bad about are “summary activities”. My previous AP explained to me that if students’ minds are like boxes, then ticket-outs (or some other summary activity) at the end of the period are the keys which “lock the box and keep the information inside”. I’m not so sure about the metaphor, but I do know that if I could encourage students to reflect and/or think about the lesson in its entirety at the end of each period, their recall ability the next day would most likely increase.
So why not kill 2 birds with one stone? Have students reflect AND think about the entire lesson through blogging? Right now my tentative plan, when we return from spring break, is to have students get the iPads the last 5 minutes of class (we’ll begin with the last 10 minutes until they get the hang of blogging–oh, and I’ll have to give them class time Monday to set up their blogs).
Initially, I put this idea into the filing cabinet of “going to try next year”, but that’s getting over-stuffed, and I think students this year could benefit right away. One comment I received back was “create more opportunities for Participation Points“. I guarantee that students will complain “it’s not worth it!” for the amount of points I’ll give them, but they just want my class to be easier and I’m not going to give in to that silly nonsense.
I quickly created an example blog using blogger and my Google account (to make sure this is something that can be done quickly), and I created a series of posts where I gave examples of differing quality posts. Because posting simply accumulates PPs for the students, they have the freedom to choose the frequency and the quality of their posts. I’ll require them blog for one week so they can see how fast and easy it will be to accumulate PPs this way, however, students will still have the chance to decide what they want to do long-term. Here’s the blog that took me 5 minutes to create (but then about an hour to come up with the examples)
Which Blogging Software?
Blogger was fast and easy to setup on the iPad. Edublog looks nice, but when I tried creating a blog on the iPad, it wouldn’t pass the “prove you’re not a robot test” because the Edublog app and Safari weren’t communicating well. Wordpress.com also has a nice app, but it looks more built for professional bloggers, and I really just want my students to get their feet wet. One last option is for students to use the blogging software that is built into their Weebly websites, which they are using for their Senior Portfolios at our school; however, I don’t want them to confuse their Senior Portfolio with their math class blog, but I think I will offer that as an option for some of the students. I won’t really care to monitor these blogs in the sense that I need to have editing authority over them–I simply need a fast way of checking for recent posts, which I can do using e-mail subscription and my “throw-away” e-mail account.
Are there any other suggestions for blogging software out there?
One other thing I thought of as I was doing this, was I should get fewer “what did we do the day I was absent?” since students will be able to access each other’s blogs through my website.
If students want to study for tests, they can always go back to the blogs, which in many cases might (fingers crossed) be better than their notes.
If you’ve had students keep a blog in your math or science class, please let me know about it so that I can check them out and get more ideas (or be aware of possible pitfalls!).
Here’s my teacher website’s introduction of the blogging idea to my students. We’ll see how many bite!
Oh, and I think I’m going to require that they use the word “Adventure” or some synonym in the title of their blog. Perhaps this will help them realize that this is what they should be on in math class: an Adventure!