Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Classroom Without Walls

After watching a teacher on DVD incorporate blogs into her 6th grade English and writing lessons, I must admit that I feel more at ease about exposing my elementary students to blogging.  I now feel more secure about how safe blogging can be for students and that their identities don't have to be compromised while blogging on the internet.  As I reflect on how I will use blogging with my 2nd grade students, I believe the easiest way to start off with blogging for children at their age would be to have them display their classwork or projects electronically on the computer. 

For example, I would use blogging to enhance a previous social studies project in which students were asked to draw their ultimate playgrounds that included a map key, a compass rose and a brief paragraph explaining all of the items on their playground.  This assignment was a take home project that included a clear rubric for students and parents to use as a guide for their projects.  At the end of the assignment, students were given an opportunity to share their projects with their classmates.  As an extension to this social studies project, I would have the students present an electronic copy of their playground on our class weblog site.  By doing so, students would be able to either create their ultimate playground through clip art or saved images on the computer, or they would scan their drawings onto the computer.  Then, students would type a brief paragraph explaining in further detail the purpose of the items in their ultimate playground that was presented in their map key. 

Showcasing students' work on the internet provides students with an opportunity to connect their learning to technology and society today.  For instance, I remember as a kid asking my teachers how certain assignments or concepts related to the "real world" and receiving very unclear responses.  Now, students can clearly see how their assignments relate to the "real world" and they are now able to quickly connect their classroom learning experiences to their everyday interactions with technology and society. Blogging in the classroom also provides each child with the opportuntity to showcase their work not only to their classmates, but to their friends and family members outside of the classroom.  No longer do parents, friends and families have to wait until work samples come back home or when they are displayed on the walls at school.  With the use of the internet, classmates can now display their work to as many people as they choose and at their convenience.  By showcasing our work through blogging, our classroom can now become a classroom without walls.

Martin (Presenter). (2008) "Spotlight on Technology: Blogging in the Classroom". [DVD]. Laureate Education, Inc.


  1. Jewel,
    I think you are very brave to set up a classroom blog for second graders. Do second graders have e-mail addresses that are required to set up blogs? I'm still very new to this and I'm not sure how you would manage their blogs. When you start this let me know how it works.

  2. Jewel
    I too am an elementary teacher and the blog idea I have found difficult to fully develop at the elementary level without the full support of the parents. Upper elementary, third - fifth grade, are a little better equipped in terms of responding to blogs but I still think it is a difficult concept to bridge at this level. I will be interested to see how excited your students will be when they are given the opportunity to blog. Do you have a tech class at your building? We do but I don't believe that the students are yet participating in blogs.

  3. Jewel,

    I shy away from even considering teaching elementary students working with technology, because I am a secondary educator who loves children who already know how to line up and tie their shoes. That being said, your idea for celebrating the students' work and allowing them to expand a social studies assignment or any more project or drawing based assignment by posting and commenting about it to a web log is great!

    I think that gives students a desire to practice typing, so they can encourage their friends, and it helps students practice interacting with each other "without walls". My only suggestion would be that you provide time in class to scan the material onto the website, so students without such technology can feel like their input will be able to validated. In that same way, you should take a moment to teach the children how to use a scanner and explain it's many uses. This way they can leave your classroom feeling comfortable not only with software type activities like interacting with blogs, but they will also feel more comfortable about using hardware like scanners.

    Charis Jones

  4. Second graders don't have a required email address. I would have to have them either use their parents' addresses or find a way where they could post blog responses on a class webpage without having to submit personal email addresses. I wonder if our school cool create generic email accounts for the students. This who adventure is something that would definitely take deep and careful thoughts before I completely went through with it.

  5. Getting the kids used to interacting with a scanner is a great suggestion and I would have to make sure that I ask our technology teacher to support me with this class activity. Unfortunately, our technology teacher only provides weekly tech classes for 5th grade students. All other classes would have to ask for extra support or a special tech lesson done by the technology teacher if they wanted a technology lesson presented to them. I will definitely have to express an interest for my students so that we can receive as much support as possible.