Friday, January 30, 2009

Reflections on blogging

Last year I started blogging with my students and I enjoyed it. First, it helped me with organizing. Students do not always hand in their work in time, it can be lost, mixed with papers from other groups. In a blog you can easily see who, how many, when, what tasks were done. They are safe, you can’t lose them, and even those who are absent can contribute and ‘hand in’ their works. Second, it is their motivation that everyone could see their work, it will be read and commented. Besides, it’s additional reading of each others posts. I agree with Carla Arena that blogging builds up a sense of community, and blogs encourage many shy students to express themselves. The main problem is that still not everybody has free access to the internet and some students are lazy to type and still prefer to write on a sheet of paper somewhere during a break. I asked students to post short articles on the topic we study, use special lexical items in stories, comment. I liked the examples of C. Arena’s tasks to promote more interaction: “I’ve had reading projects in which the students read short stories in parts and for each part there was a post that led students towards reflection. Another great activity that sparks students’ curiosity is to invite a mystery guest as a contributor to your class blog, and have the learners interact with this mystery guest to find out who he is, where he’s from and so on. Or how about an international exchange in which two groups from different countries interact, talk about all kinds of subjects and use their English in an authentic setting, to promote communication for a real purpose?” I think about developing a reading task: post a short story with a task for students – continue, write another ending, answer opinion questions. My students’ blog


Carla Arena said...

Dear Yulia,

I can see blogging can only thrive in your class as you exhilarate in enthusiasm! I agree with you that lack of internet connection might be a barrier, but cannot be an excuse for our creative uses of blogging. I've seen teachers with only one computer do wonders with their students. If we are willing to give that step further, as I can see you are, I'm sure blogging can be a thriving experience. I must confess that I'm a big fan international collaborative projects to spark students' curiosity and take their motivation to another level.

Berta said...

Hi Yulia,
It was nice meeting you yesterday in the WizIQ session of Collaborative Writing.

I am in a similar situation since many of my students do not have access to a computer or Internet. They mostly come from the countryside, live in dorms or rented rooms and a laptop seems like an impossible item to have. Even so, I try to include a class blog in my course, let them use the computer in my office and I have found out that they go to Cybercafes anyway to chat with friends and family, so they check the class blog too, read articles posted and write comments about them.

I do not require an extensive use of the class blog, but at least they get part of the experience and know that if they need help, someone from our class community will help them out, especially in the chat area which has proved so helpful. Here it is in case you are interested.
I visited your students´ blog and enjoyed their posts. I especially like when they include an illustration because I am an extremely visual learner.
Keep up the great work,

Berta said...

It´s me again, Yulia.
I noticed in your class blog that one has to turn to the next pages to see older posts from your students. Something I sometimes do is to get more posts in the first page by going to "settings", then "formatting" and then in the first line you see "show xx posts". I usually set it to 50 posts so that my students can have a glance to many entries by simply going down the first page with the mouse. Let me know if this was useful to you.
Best, hugs, Berta