As part of the Science at Sea experience, I talked about the many benefit of teachers who blog as part of their classroom experience. At one end of the spectrum you have teachers who are using their school sponsored blogs as a way to effectively communicate with parents or to share classroom assignments with students. On the other end you have very teachers who have found ways to use their blog as a catalyst to get their students (and parents) engaged in the learning process outside of classroom time.
Lisa Heaton uses her blog (www.lisaheaton.com) during her integrated unit on rocketry and literature as her 5th grade GT students read Rocket Boys by Homer Hickham. Lisa found that her students write almost twice as much when they are blogging versus using conventional writing practices. By their very nature, blogs are an interactive forum that encourage students to become engaged in the thoughts and ideas presented by other students in their class. Instead of students merely “pushing” ideas to a teacher to grade, blog posts become a great way for students to agree, disagree or come up with a new idea based on a collaborative learning environment.
You have to check out the Learning in Alaska blog by Colleen Dominguez and Beth Lynch, two phenomenal 5th grade teachers from Houston, Texas who attended Science at Sea. After returning home, Colleen and Beth set-up this website last week and started to share their daily experiences from the cruise through Alaska. Their goal is to have a good foundation established before their students return from summer break. As they share more and more of their experiences with the students, these teachers plan to use the website as a forum to discuss the ecology of Alaska and the best way to conserve our valuable resources.
Do teacher blogs really serve as a catalyst to get students to think more critically, challenge conventional views, bounce around new ideas and debate issues? This anecdotal evidence suggests a positive answer to all of these questions, but what is your experience? Go ahead… get engaged.