Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Learning to Blog

I haven't posted for a bit - I've been busy posting on the book discussion blog that a group of us started as a way of developing a professional learning group over the summer.

Right now, I am in Will Richardson's session on blogging that's being held during the Vision to Practice conference by the Greater Essex County DSB in Windsor, ON, Canada. Will is working with teachers new to blogging.

It's interesting as I sit back and listen to the discussions and concerns. It's evident to me that the message that social networking is a dangerous thing is very strong and that many teachers are not aware of the message that networking through the read/write web can be a very powerful learning tool that can motivate and engage students. Will showed us Anne Davis' blog post Rationale for Educational Blogging where she lists a number of reasons why blogging is pedagogically sound. She says,
There are many skills and concepts that need to be addressed to effectively help teachers learn to use blogs throughout their curriculum to foster these new literacies. It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces. Teachers need to address writing for a public audience, how to cite and link and why, how to use the comment tool in pedagogical ways, how to read web materials more efficiently as well as explore other ways to consider pedagogical uses of blogs. Blogging requires us to teach students to critically engage media. Students need instruction on how to become efficient navigators in these digital spaces where they will be obtaining a majority of their information.

She writes about new literacies and I think that this is important. I think that we are in real danger of narrowly defining what literacy is. Literacy is not just a highly publicized score on a standardized test. In the quote above, Davis defines other literacy skills that are not part of these tests but are certainly part of what it means to be literate in the 21st century. And we know that what gets tested gets taught. So how do kids get proficient with 21st century literacies if we don't value them enough to place them within our curriculum or our testing systems? The reality is that blogs, wikis, rss, text messaging and social networking sites are part of the daily literacies of our students. If we don't teach them how to navigate and ethically use these technology who will?

If you want to know more about 21st century skills check this out here. There are lots of links on this site that will lead to articles that examine what it means to be literate in the 21st century and the types of skills that we need to foster in our students so that they will be prepared for a world that is totally different then the one for which we were prepared.

We had almost 50 teachers attend Will's 2 sessions. I am excited to see teachers at both secondary and elementary extending their learning by becoming familiar with blogs.

Here are 2 sources for more information on blogging that Will shared:

Support Blogging

Weblogs in Schools

Happy Blogging!


Will said...

Hey Sharon,

Thanks so much for your help today. Hope it has some lasting effect. Let me know how it goes!

dougpete said...

Nice post, Sharon. Glad you enjoyed the session. I blogged about my impression here.

paul c said...

Great post. I appreciate your reference to the 'Framework for 21st century learning site.' Will Richardson certainly helped to point educators in that direction.

Sharon Seslija said...

Will, Doug and Paul, thanks for your comments. I hope that those of you who attended the session will comment here or at Doug's or Paul's blog. WE LOVE COMMENTS :-)

Margaret said...

I really enjoyed Will's workshop on Wednesday!!! I attended Doug's Computer Symposium last winter so this is the second time I have heard Will speak. The message is really sinking in... in fact, I have been prompted to actually act on it rather than just think about it.

I thought it was incredible for him to take baby steps at first so that even beginning bloggers were pushed into a BLOGGING experience!

I frequently make comments on other peoples' blogs, but don't seem to able to make the commitment of setting up my own. I did, however, set up a closed blog for my students to start in September.
The first question...
"What do you think of starting up a class blog?"
I set it up for just the kids to make comments and, of course, they will come to me first - this is elementary school.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sharon, you couldn't have been more dead on about the amount you learn about the WRITING PROCESS doing this stuff! Even my reviews for CM MAGAZINE have put me on an incredible learning curve. I just finished my third review - HOPEFULLY - I have never worked with an editor before and I can really feel for the kids when they get comments for changes.

I'd share both of these sites with a link, but that's my next step.

Sharon Seslija said...

Margaret, as soon as you get your blog going let me know and I will definitely add it to my blog roll.

Chris Thomas said...

Sharon, I am new to this blogging thing and I just created an account with blogger. I hope that I can bother you for some help and ideas. Even though I didn't go to Will's P.D. session, I read his bookm saw his lunchtime keynote address and read Doug's live blogger on the session. Still, I am in the "mechanical" stage of blogging and want to get a firm grasp on this as soon as possible so that I can unlock the real potential I see with using blogs for research and history in general.