I have posted additional links that you’ll need for your blogs. As I mentioned in the New Teacher Training Session, I will continue to utilize this space to assist with your blogging needs. More to come on all that, but for now – go check out some of the links and read on about a new web browser that has integrated blogging and RSS capabilities (don’t know what I’m talking about – keep reading).
By the way, I forgot to mention a browser that I think would be helpful for you if/when you set up your class(es). Flock is a web browser that can make it easier to share media/photos, automatically stay up-to-date with new content from your favorite sites, and search the Web all within a Search Toolbar. There’s also a blog icon at the top for you (even more so for students) to easily click to the blog to post new entries. Although the RSS feed can pull in your favorite (ESPN, Oprah, or WWS), it can also aggregate all of your students’ blog entries. This will eliminate the process of clicking through each student’s entries. Now, you can read them all collectively through this feature. Pretty cool, eh? This is really the key piece to the blogging puzzle – now you’ll be able to monitor 30 something (or however many students you have in all of your classes) student blogs.
It is also important to figure out a way to encourage students to read each others blogs and have students feel that they are being read (these are two of the pedagogical concerns often cited by those who have already used blogs in the classroom). RSS helps to solve both of the problems, since everyone in the class will be getting a look at everyones postings for the day or week, without having to rely on them clicking through 20 links (again more on this later, but the way information is written and read has drastically changed in the last few years, and while most students know how to use a web browser few know about RSS-so this also serves the important pedagogical function of information literacy).
One of the other barriers to blogging in the classroom is the concern that navigating the technology will take away from time spent writing. Essentially, the real concern is students will dedicate an hour for the homework, and spend 30 minutes figuring out how to do the writing instead of actually doing the posting. Flock helps solve this problem, in addition to having an RSS reader built in, it has blogging software. Students only need to select New Blog Post from the menu and a window opens that operates like a word processing window. Type in the window, hit return, and send the posting to your blog. Again, really simple for students / teachers who might not be as tech savvy as others. Finally, Flock makes it really easy to incorporate information from other websites into your posting (basically you just have to highlight and click). As one of the things you might be doing is having students read and respond to news articles, this feature makes it easy for the students. You could use a separate RSS reader, and let students blog through Blogger’s built-in web interface, but Flock makes this easier – for both student and teacher (and it’s compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows).
I’m anxious to see how and who is the first to incorporate a blog within the classroom, to communicate with parents, and/or whatever else you might think of along the way. Please let me know if you need any assistance; I’m more than willing to help. You can call, email, or just comment away on this blog!