Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning

Lesson ideas

Lesson idea one: 

Grade level: 9th-12th grade class

Objective:  Students will participate in a class discussion about the current book or text being read, through the discussion they will learn to contextualize and evaluate their own ideas about the text.  

1.  have the text or portion of the book already read.

2.  Each person in the class will submit a thought question they would like discussion on the blog forum, and submit this question to the teacher through the blog.
3.  The teacher will then choose the question they feel is the best question for this section, but still through the year or unit allowing for many people to get a chance.  
4. The class will then be given the question on the blog, and each student must respond to the question in not less than 100 words but not more than 500.  
5. The day after the posts have been submitted the classes reading for that night will be to read the posts by their classmates and pick out they found the most interesting and share in class.  

This lesson is a way to encourage a in-class discussion by allowing students a chance to write their idea before they discuss and to put out questions they would like to see answered by their classmates.  

Lesson idea(s) two:

Grade level: 8th grade

Objective:  Students will learn how to create a digital portfolio and see how they have progressed throughout a unit, term, or year.  

Idea: Relating to a unit on literature
  1. Students will use the Blog for assignments such as quick writes, and short essays.   
  2. Also students will use the blog for discussion and keep copies of these for their portfolio later. 
  3. Students will create "Character Posts" where they make a post as a Character about a situation that took place in the book, and make it like a journal entry.  
  4. Students will make posts about the book that employ the use of video, or audio displaying technology skills and to show some creativity in their post.  
  5. Students will make a post(s) that finds articles in recent newspapers or on websites that relate to a topic discussed in the book.    

What is some research done on blogging in the classroom?

A little bit of research for blogging in The classroom

Penrod, Diane.  Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy: The Next Powerful Step in 21st Century learning.  Rowman & Littlefield Education. Layham, Maryland. 2007  

Diane Penrod's book Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy is an excellent resource for teachers to understand the rationale for using blogs in English classrooms and how it can benefit their students.  Penrod explains what blogs are, the bloggers themselves and what makes a quality blog.  She goes over how blogs can greatly help literacy in children.  She explains that blogging can help students learn to enjoy writing and have what she explains as an autotelic experience.  She talks about blog extremely positively and treats them as if there are no real drawbacks to blogs, or that some students will not experience benefits.  This is not exactly true and in fact my next source explains how some students have problems with engaging in blogging the way they are intended.  

Amaro-Jimenez, Carla, Holly Hungerford-Kresser, Joy Wiggins.  "Learning From Our Mistakes: What Matters When Incorporating Blogging in the Content Area Literacy Classroom." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 326-334.  January 2012. 

This source explains how blogging can be less beneficial in a classroom especially because of poorly constructed uses of blogging.  From this the professors learned that students needed better direction of the class related blogging.  They could take some advice from middle school teachers who realize that students need ample time and direction for assignments, because other wise they will not get done or be done poorly. That is what these professors learned from using blogs in their classroom.  But they also feel very positively about using blogs in the classroom.  

Bowers-Campbell, Joy.  "Take it out of Class: Exploring Virtual Literature Circles."  Journal of Adolescent & Adult literacy, 557-566. May 2011

 This source like the others discusses using blogs as a way to enhance classroom discussions especially about literacy.  It addresses how using it as a source for classroom discussions allows students to make literary connections like Text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world.  Also by using it for groups the people using a specific blog promote "Group Harmony," which is what a good discussion does, because it doesn't cut people down for what they are saying, instead it tries to further the discussion and make good evaluations of the text and.  

Other sources of Blogging for English classes:

Trammell, Kaye D. Richard E. Ferdig "Pedagogical Implications of Blogging."  Academic Exhange. 60-64. Winter 2004

Weiler, Greg. "Using Weblogs In the Classroom." The English Journal. Vol. 92 no. 5. 73-75.  May 2003

Hunt, Tiffany J. Bud Hunt.  "Linkin' (B)Logs: A New Literacy of Hyperlinks." The English Journal. Vol. 97 no. 1. 105-108. Sept. 2007

Gillepsie Joanne S. "Getting Inside S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders." The English Journal. Vol. 95 no. 3. 44-48. January 2006.

Why are blogs good? What can they do in a classroom?

Why are blogs good for a classroom?  

What can they do for my students?

"They [bloggers] take a highly active role in the production of texts and the distribution of information compared to writers in the past." (Penrod)

Four things that blogging can encourage:

  1. Blogging encourages fluency in writing
  2. Blogging encourages cooperative learning
  3. Blogging encourages critical thinking
  4. Blogging encourages performance based learning, PBL, among other cross-curricular strategies.
  (Penrod, 22-24)

1. Blogging encourages fluency in writing.
Students get the chance to write a lot with blogging.  They have the chance to do all levels of writing but mostly at L1 and L2.  By using blogging students can type and express themselves in a medium that they feel comfortable with.  

2. Blogging encourages cooperative learning.

This plays into class discussions.  Blogging can help students learn together by having them respond to each others comments and create a virtual class discussion.  
"Blogging encourages cooperative learning through the feedback loop.  As students post to others' sites, a form of collective intelligence develops about topic...Students find out that no single person knows everything and shared inquiry helps everyone uncover more useful information and knowledge." (Penrod, 23)  

3. Blogging encourages critical thinking.

One of the main aspects about blogging is reading other's work.  By reading other's work a person must evaluate what they have read and decide how this piece should be interpreted.  Students in engage in critical thinking when reading blogs, because they must synthesize their reading, and try to understand what the author desires to communicate.  The teacher is not right there hinting the meaning or the information that should be understood, students have to do this themselves.  It gives them a sense of autonomy in developing their own literacy.  
"Because students have to discern the information they unearth about a topic and then write about it using language so others can understand, student bloggers have to learn how to ask good questions in order to evaluate information or become better researchers in order to make certain assessments." (Penrod, 23)

4. Blogging encourages PBL among other cross-curricular strategies.

The strategies picked up from blogging can transfer for many students.  For most students they see writing in a classroom and think English=writing.  But writing takes place in many other subjects and teachers struggle to get kids to realize that the skills they pick up in English can even be transferred to a Biology class.  In blogging they have some freedom of expression and create their own "writing environment" so they can start to see that writing can be used everywhere.
"While writing pedagogy argues that student writers should develop some portable or transferable skill, practicing writing to a prompt or in response to reading does little to encourage writers' skill transference." (Penrod, 24)
Of course in a literature class using prompts is necessary many times, but students should experience some kind of writing freedom.  Like encouraging life long readers, we want to encourage our students to be people who are not afraid of writing


What are some ways we can use blogs?

The "Information Reformation" (Penrod) 

What are some ways we can use blogs?

Class discussions:

The first thing blogs could be used in is class discussions.  Think about kids on Facebook, Twitter, or even some kind of messaging system, they feel comfortable sharing their ideas that same veil that allows for cyber-bullying can veil students inhibitions to express what they think about literature or some other kind of text. 
Also it can help students form better responses because they have to write their ideas instead of nervously saying "um I like this part because it's it reminds me of the time I went to Montana." Students have to check their writing and think about how the other students will react when they read it.  

It allows for students, who are a little shy in class but not in their writing, a chance to show students and the teacher that they really have something to say.  Finally it cuts dominate students down to one comment or at least limits them from being the only person with their hand up to express their ideas. 

 "They (bloggers) take a highly active role in the production of texts and the distribution of information compared to writers in the past." (Penrod)

Authentic assessments

The other thing that blogs can offer is a format to make a portfolio.  We have learned how portfolios can be a great authentic assessment and allow students to show their work and learning in a way that is not high stress and can show progress of the student.  Growth is what counts!  
Blogs are a perfect format for this kind of assessment, and it shows a teacher the media capabilities their
 student has. Our students, at least most of them will be tech-savvy and know how to create a blog that has creative and interesting components.  It allows most students an accessible and inexpensive way to create a portfolio.


Informational texts

The next thing that blogs offer is another form of informational texts.    

It is great for students to read newspapers and text books and other non-fiction but blogs, well they offer a whole new world of information.  Some of the people who are writing these blogs are in fact experts in their field and because for whatever reason they blog about their ideas, their expertise, and about the world around them.  

When studying contemporary society blogs can offer information that can be hard to come by and it's easily accessible on the internet.  Those quality, appropriate blogs can also be 
somewhat difficult to locate once found they give students a window to explore their world. 

Blogging for Literacy

In the 21st century Literacy has taken on a new look!  Gone are the days when kids could only gain reading and writing experience solely from print.  Instead students can now become "netizens" and explore cyberspace and take control of their own learning.

What is blogging?

Blog is short for "weblog" and includes all varieties of personal creations of people that are not usually backed by sponsors or other kinds of public foundations.  They are a space that people can put their ideas out in the world without needing to go through a publishing process.  This can be beneficial and detrimental. The blogs if written by a dedicated blogger who takes pride in writing quality information can continue the movement of the "information reformation."  But because they do not have to go through and editor or publisher can produce a low quality blog, which represents a large portion of the blogs out there.  

  • Short for weblog
  • So many varieties
  • Personal creations
  • Can be good or bad depending on the dedication of the blogger both in stamina of blogging and in creating quality information. 

Could you use a blog in the classroom?

YES!!! In fact many trail blazing English teachers are already employing blogs in the classroom. First lets think about secondary students in a class discussion....
What a wonderful dream classroom it would be if we could transfer our literature class discussions to our 7th grade English class, and have the same kind of insight or at least willingness to share ideas.  But honestly these kids have inhibitions and most of them have probably not participated in a discussion about literature in their lives.  BUT that doesn't mean they won't.....

Enter blogs

"When teachers and parents encourage students or children to blog they are furthering young writer's opportunites to tell their stories, to give voice to a full range of their emotions..." (Penrod, 17) 

Some quick things that blogs offer:
  1.  There is immediate feedback
  2. A balance between challenge and skill
  3. There is a focused concentration on topic
  4. There are limited distractions
  5. There is less fear of failure
  6. there is little or no self consciousness
  7. There is time distortion (Like what the Flow concept)
  8. There is an increase in autotelic behavior.  

WHAT? What is an autotelic experience?  Well folks its this; an autotelic experience is "Having a purpose in and not apart from itself. "  That means the experience or the creation of a piece creates it own purpose, it own meaning to the person.  "When bloggers enjoy the act of blogging, the activity becomes an end to itself... if they find themselves in the zone, they write without having a particular goal in mind other than finding enjoyment in the moment." (Penrod, 9) THAT'S DEEP STUFF!