September 9, 2009 by readlisaread
A question on Twitter this morning from @jmcconville1000 regarding how teacher-librarians might find ways to use blogs in the classroom. I was going to reply, but knew this was a topic I could not handle in 160 characters or less. I can’t even imagine covering it in 160 words, come to that!
I can’t say I have taken to blogging with quite the duck-to-water-ness that I did email or online discussion forums or even Facebook, but while it hasn’t been “a biggie” for me, I do see the value. Given that words are my medium (and my weapon) I have given this topic a lot of cogitation, thought, rumination, meditation….
Blogging as an Observer
A very basic activity would be to open a blog page or post for a specific novel you are studying in class. This would work especially well if you are doing Literature Circles. Students are given a specific topic or question per day or week, or per chapter or section– however the teacher wants to organize it. Students can be directed to reply only to the teacher’s post, or to create a comment and a question for another student to answer. They could be given parameters such as “Post one comment and reply to at least 2 other comments”. (I would caution this approach, unless the students are really engrossed in the novel– you don’t want them to focus on quantity over quality). Another approach is to consider how many topics will be posted for the novel, and tell students they are responsible for replying to X posts. This will encourage them to chose carefully the topics they are most interested in. (The difficulty with this one is you don’t want to release all the topics before the students have read that far, and you don’t want the Procrastinators “waiting for a good topic”).
Finally, for a less teacher-driven model, especially in a Literature-Circle model, the students can work as a team to create a blog for their novel. Each day, a different student could take on a different task– writing a capsule update, posting an “interview”, uploading a mind map or word web, or a research piece. This could be an interesting project to try if the groups were going to cycle through some of the same books. Later groups could post follow-up comments or reflections, or post alternate assignments.
Blogging in Character
Another thought I had around blogging that would really draw the students into the works would be to blog in-role. Particularly for works written with passive voice, the student would really need to draw on their own creative interpretations. An example would be writing from the point of view of the main character of the book (Stanley Yelnats in “Holes” or Danny in “Danny’s Run”) vs writing as a secondary or even non-appearing character (Stanley’s mom or Danny’s friend). Students could be given guided topics, or write freely. The students will need to be coached in how t write “in voice”. A wonderful and easy-to-read (about grade 6/7 level) novel that delves deeply into both point of view and character is “The Fruit Bowl Project” By Sarah Durkee. Students could also be tasked with replying to one another’s posts as other characters from the novel. Think of this as “WWJD”. (What Would Juliet Do?)
Blogs for other Text
Poetry blogs would allow for more “gentle” sharing. Students could post their own works and comment on others, or post sound files of them reciting their own works or others works they have found in a particular genre or on a particular topic.
A Poetry Slam blog would be kind of fun too– students are given a timed-free-for-all to post on a topic.
A scaffolded approach would be for students to write the next line. The prompts could be written by the teacher, or as extensions for advanced students.
I think I have more ideas, but have to cut this off for now. Comments welcome, as always!
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