lit lover book

reflections of an ever-evolving educator

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

to blog or not to blog

I'm learning all sorts of new things about kids and technology through my work with blogs and my students this semester. I started small by creating a separate class blog for each of my class periods and simply requiring students to comment occasionally on certain posts. We haven't been able to move past that point yet and I'm fast discovering all sorts of new things in the process.

Perhaps the most amazing discovery is that my kids are not nearly as techno-savvy as I thought they were. These are ninth grade honors students in a pretty affluent suburban community. These kids have grown up with computers and the internet. And yet...they still don't really know how to use it. That's the fascinating part. For all the time they spend IM'ing, emailing and surfing, they still don't really understand the logic of the internet, how to navigate an unfamiliar website, or how to use the internet to find what they need to know. I mentioned before that I was surprised that most of them did not know what a blog was--had not even heard the word before I mentioned it! And now I'm finding that even something as seemingly simple as posting a comment to a topic is bewildering to some of them. I guess one of my initial goals, to increase students' computer literacy and use of technology, is indeed one that I will be addressing. I just had no idea to what extent.

Another interesting observation--whoever posts a comment first sets the standard for those that follow. If the first post is complete, well thought-out, and insightful, most of the rest will be as well. However, if that first comment is a weak one--whoa, nelly! I had one student in one class who completely misunderstood the prompt she was posting to. Unfortunately she was the first to post. The next 7 posts followed her incorrect example, before some free thinker realized that everyone else was doing it wrong! We discussed this in class today, and some of the kids admitted that they got confused. They had read my prompt, thought they understood it, but then questioned themselves when they saw all the incorrect postings. So they followed the herd!

Some other rather mundane things are making themselves known as well. I've realized I must note the date due in bold at the top of the post if I really expect them to do it by then. To simply include it in the body of the post is just silly idealism at this point. All of this really means that even on the internet, they don't read instructions!


At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It's great to read a blog of a teacher using blogs in the classroom. I had planned to do so next year, but now I think, "Why not just start NOW?" You've inspired me.



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