Thing 1: Blogging

Welcome! Thanks for reading!  I am starting this blog as part of the Cool Tools for Schools PD (2016-2017 school year).  I am excited to be taking part in this PD and learning about such varied options to use in my classroom.

I am a teacher in the Rochester City School District.  For the first 10 approximately ten years of my career I was a classroom science teacher.  I have taught Earth Science, Living Environment, Middle School Science and AP Environmental.

However, in the last two years I have taken a position in what is called the “Virtual Academy.”  Teachers in the Virtual Academy are still working with students in classrooms, but in a different sense.  We are travel between several schools monitoring the computer labs and meeting with students who are taking courses online.  I have 9 students this year taking AP Environmental Science as a virtual course. The vast majority of my students are taking online credit recovery science courses.  They have already taken that science class face to face, but failed it and are now trying to recover the credit by taking an online course.  My role is motivation, tutoring, making study guides, progress monitoring, and explaining/reteaching/scaffolding difficult assignment.

I am excited to take part in this program because I think it will be very relevant to my online courses.  Since I am no longer in a traditional classroom, I have less need for some of the more traditional professional development, but this seems like a perfect fit that will give me a variety of tools to make my classes more relevant, more engaging, and maybe increase student achievement.

I found this first lesson on blogging to be very interesting.  I read through the top 3 posts on the “Why, How, and Where” of Student Blogging.  I also saw Andrea Hernandez’s talk on Blogfolios, and read the post on Empowering Students Through Blogging.

From a personal point of view, I was struck by the idea of having more investment for students, and making their work public.  I think this would be effective for many students, including my own son, who struggles with writing and dislikes writing. A real audience would lend authenticity and a reason to write. It would also help students build up a portfolio (even if not a true blogfolio, but a blog that was continued through the year).

I think it would be difficult to blog with students on a large scale, and should probably be approached gradually.  It seems important to have students blog in a controlled environment and with much instruction on online citizenship and conduct (appropriate commenting, etc).

One thought that I had of an easy way to start is to make a class blog, where students could take turns authoring a post on what was done in class each day or week, and then it could be approved and posted. Other groups could comment.

If students were to have their own blogs, I think it would be critical to use something like edublogs or kidblogs to better monitor.

I was really fascinated with the quadblogging website where students are connected with other classes around the globe based on certain criteria, in a structured format.

As far as how I would use blogging in my own online courses, currently, I’m still thinking. I have students in my AP Environmental Science courses collect news article for each unit.  Perhaps these, and a reflection on them, could be converted to a blog.  One other thought that I had was simply a unit reflection/discussion of the main points.  However, I’m not sure how effective this would be.

I have not yet seen where this would fit into my online credit recovery courses, but I’m sure there is a way.   Any thoughts?  Please comment below.