Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tool #2 Building Community & Comments

I think one of the most important reasons for me to participate in 11 Tools and the Library to Play is so that I learn how to use the new technology. I can't teach students how to use a blog as part of my class activities if I don't know how to do it. One of the goals I have for my history students in using a class blog is to generate conversation among each other about what they are learning in class. I want students to bring out what each sees as important. Different students pick up on different pieces of information. Students develop their own individual outlook.

I guess what I'm trying to set up with my students is a Personal Learning Network... the blog would be part of that? If I understand the idea from what I read, a Personal Learning Network is a collection of sources I use to learn about topics and is a way I connect with other people who have information to share on the topic about which I want to learn. When students share what they have learned and sources where they have found information, then they are creating their own Personal Learning Network?

I think a couple of important things to consider when blogging is to reply back when people comment. If blogs are to be a network, then it seems one needs to communicate with others to establish and keep the network going.

Another important consideration is setting boundaries and establishing expectations of what is permissible, just like we do in the classroom.

I did a search for history blogs. I had the idea that blogs were set up to facilitate conversation or to be for fun, rather than being an academic source for research. I found some history blogs, though, that give another side of history students won't find in textbooks. For example, I have a Victorian Webquest assignment. I found a blog that contains information on Victorian foods and dress. I found another blog containing diary entries of a British soldier from the First World War that has been put on the web by his grandson.

I plan to follow the blogs of some of the teachers from my school, such as Amy's House & Being Patty Joyce. Not many of us have gotten started yet. I saw Mrs. Peterson's comment about looking for a blog in her subject area (elem. music) and following it in addition.

Would it be okay to follow one history blog that covers something I teach and comment to that blog?


  1. Yes, you want any resources that support your teaching needs to be part of your PLN. Please go back and give us the links to these blogs that you are reviewing so in turn we can learn from them as well. You can do that with links in this post or better, a list of blogs you are following by using the gadget and placing it on your side bar.

  2. I have to go back as well and revisit my links.

  3. I am learning to work with this as well. Revisiting your links is a good idea

  4. Something I hadn't thought of was using others' blogs in the classroom or having students use others' blogs for research. Something that does come to mind though is how to teach students to judge the credibility of history blogs that I do not control. This especially concerns me because I am not sure right now how to judge their credibility. How would you or do you explain about judging the credibility of a blog to your students?

  5. Up to this point, I haven't had students use blogs for research. This past year I used a class blog to have students write about questions on topics we were studying and have them respond to each others writings. I think judging the historical accuracy of some blogs would take a lot of research on our part, that we don't always have time to do. I like the WW1 blog I found & put on this blog, because it is actually a primary source that would be interesting to use, as you would use any other primary source.

  6. You are totally right that to understand how you want students to use the technology in your classroom you first have to understand it yourself. The 11 tools will most certainly serve that purpose.

  7. I agree, and that's why I don't mind spending time doing this after all. If I want my students to use certain tools, I have to understand how they work. I wouldn't throw a dictionary at a student without ever having looked into one, would I?