Integrating technology into the classroom has been a hot topic in education for the 21st century. One tool that has been shown to have a great impact on the reading, writing and critical thinking skills of students in the classroom is blogging. The idea behind using blogging is that students will learn to create content for the public to view, review ideas from other online users, and respond to posts and comments critically and respectfully (Arena, 2008). It is true that blogging goes beyond the act of journaling as students write for a bigger purpose when posted online. Students must carefully choose a topic, write a thoughtful reaction which will provoke others to react in some way, and continue in a meaningful and engaging conversation with these ideas. Teachers that have started testing out blogs have said that despite the preconception that blogging is only for mature students, it is beneficial for students of all ages because it requires more reflection before submitting their work. Rather than the teacher being the only person to read their thoughts and put a grade on it, their peers will now be able to read and respond to their work. Students having work visible to others places a greater importance on composition, which motivates them to edit their writing and think about how their thoughts will reflect their abilities and opinions (Laureate Education, 2015)
After reviewing the benefits of using social networks such as blogging in the classroom, I began brainstorming how I could utilize this tool in the 8th-grade Spanish classroom. I currently teach the first year of foreign language for our students, which entails a lot of simple language and diving into different culture. I have always wanted a way to add more culture to our routine, but due to testing requirements, I always had to sacrifice culture for language instruction. For this upcoming year, I intend to create a classroom blog for students to comment and post through. As the teacher, my only contribution to the blog itself would be to supply reading materials and feedback to each student. The concept is for the students to read about cultural events and controversial topics, such as the end to the Spanish siesta, and discuss their reactions with their peers. Also, to emphasize the importance of collaboration, students will also be responsible for group postings that would teach the class about different countries or festivals. We would start this project as a whole class and go through the process and responsibilities of blogging step by step. Although many students already use social media, the idea is to learn how to use it appropriately, understand the impact of posting information and reactions to the internet, and eventually to construct posts that go beyond simple journalling and reach into the realm of meaningful and thoughtful reflections and responses.
The creation of this blog not only helps to engage the students in a format that they are more comfortable with, but it also meets many standards set forth by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). As an educator, blogging allows me to design and implement learning experiences that are relevant to the digital age (ISTE, 2017b). This means that the works students complete through the blog are tailored to the various learning styles of my students, and it provides them with the freedom to pursue curiosities they encounter along the way. As students become more comfortable with these tools, they will be working towards becoming global collaborators (ISTE, 2017a). As members of the digital world, students will be able to use their tools to explore global issues and work collaboratively to problem solve solutions.
Another standard that I am pleased to be able to work with is the promotion of digital citizenship and how to use these web 2.0 tools appropriately (ISTE, 2017b). Through our immersion with blogging, students will begin to understand the implications of posting content to the internet, which will hopefully encourage them to reflect upon their practices when it comes to social media also. Becoming digital citizens means that our students can use these tools safely, legally, and ethically, especially with social interactions online. The hope is that students will be able to respect the opportunities provided by this global network, but also be aware of their personal privacy and security (ISTE, 1027a)
Overall, I am excited to explore the possibilities that web 2.0 tools such as blogging have to offer our students. Classrooms that support the integration of technology offers more than a new platform for students to utilize, but it provides a new source of flexibility, creativity, and promotes critical thinking skills that reach students of all levels and needs (Domalewska, 2014). Not only do I believe these activities will become an important and engaging aspect of our classroom, but I feel that it will also motivate students to continue their exploration of new information outside of the school setting.
Arena, C. (2008). Blogging in the Language Classroom: It Doesn’t “Simply Happen”. TESL-EJ, 11(4), 1-7. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ898140.pdf
Domalewska, D. (2014). Technology-supported classroom for collaborative learning: Blogging in the foreign language classroom. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 10(4), 21-30.
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2017a) Standards for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2017b) Standards for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students
Laureate Education (Producer). (2015). Spotlight on technology: Blogging in the classroom [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.