“Extending My Search to Include Online Collaborative Inquiry”

 Image source: http://mnli12.wikispaces.com/online+collaborative+inquiry

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Since educators continue to seek ways to help students develop and master literacy skills, it is important to acknowledge that those skills need to be extended to include online collaborative inquiry.  According to Castek, Zawilinski, McVerry, O’Byrne, and Leu (2011), students must gain “new literacies” in order to develop their online comprehension skills. The skills include:

  1. Constructing useful questions
  2. Locating information
  3. Critically evaluating that information
  4. Synthesizing information
  5. Communicating to a variety of audiences (Castek, et al, 2011).

One way to help develop these skills is with the implementation of blogs in the classroom.  As Judy Artz articulates in “Online Collaborative Inquiry: Classroom Blog Inventions and Multiple Literacies,” when a teacher introduces a new technology tool into a learning experience, “it is not the technology that accounts for success.  It is how the technology is implemented and integrated that accounts for student achievement (2012).  Therefore, it is important that the teacher is careful to provide necessary instruction and scaffolding before the blogging experience. Some examples might include:

1. Discussions about common language associated with blogging:  Related links: http://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/ and http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/6063/Glossary-39-Blogging-Terms-to-Know.aspx

2. Practicing on paper:  This strategy would allow for necessary conversations about what a blog should look like–it’s essentially a continuation of a the conversation about how form supports content.

3. Investigating/viewing sample blogs:  By seeing what’s out there, a class can make decisions about their  identity and how it should be reflected in their blog.

4. Conversations and decisions about respect and etiquette:  These would reinforce ideas about a supportive community, professional tone and presentation to a wide range of audiences.

Image Source: http://sprouseautumnedm310.blogspot.com/

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I am really excited about beginning a blog with my students.  Since it will be my first experience with managing a classroom blog, I may start with my juniors because, as future college students, they would benefit from building their digital identities.  I have begun my research of various sites, including Kidblog and Edublogs.

As I consider this new endeavor, and about implementing technology in general, I have to go back to what truly motivates human beings to do their best work.  At the heart of these motivators, according to author, Dan Pink, are the concepts of engagement, self-direction and the innate desire to achieve mastery. Therefore, it is essential to create a classroom environment that: allows my students to connect with their peers and other experts in multiple ways; includes learning experiences that are grounded in choice; and offers students opportunities to continually work on something until they feel as if they have mastered it.

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6 thoughts on ““Extending My Search to Include Online Collaborative Inquiry”

  1. Thank you for gathering all of those great resources for us. My students will be blogging this year and your list is comprehensive and useful. I was thinking about using the blog for Do Nows which are usually a reflection on previous knowledge or skills. Do Nows are not graded but a form of formative assessment. Using a blog would allow multiple sources of feedback (peer, teacher, self-reflection). I was concerned that my students might get caught up in the look of the blog instead of the content in this case. What do you think?

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    • I think you are right in saying that students may get caught up with the aesthetics of their blog. I anticipate the same for my students, and judging for my first experience with a blog, I think it may be only natural. So, I will allow some time for that, but also assure them that over time, the looks of their blogs will evolve to reflect them. For the first few posts, the focus will be on just doing it successfully and making sure that it’s grammatically correct. Shortly after that, we will work on effective commenting. Once they begin to feel a level of comfort with those, we will get into actually using their blogs as tools to deal with the content of our course.

      On the subject of Do Nows–I have been using them for years and I like the idea of incorporating blogs there. At the high school level, my students attend to their Do Nows as soon as they walk into our classroom. Therefore, in addition to being a reflection/preparation, etc., it also serves as a classroom/time management tool because it gets them going right away. At this point, I am thinking of using blogs more for journal entries/reading responses (both during and for homework), but I am certainly looking forward to hearing from you about how it works as an initiation.

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  2. Reggina, I think blogging for eleventh graders would be a natural. I intend on working with teachers in my building to suggest they do the same. I was surprised that Artz mentioned 1st graders working on blogs–we in the high school have some catching up to do! I look forward to seeing what platform you ultimately adopt. Keep us posted!

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    • I can certainly see all the benefits of blogging and I am excited to try it with my students. I am re-examining some assignments, mostly journals and reading logs, to fit into the medium of blogging. Will keep you updated!

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  3. I agree with you in the idea that we need to hep students extend their comprehension skills to include online comprehension-it seems to me that this type of learning is unavoidable, and needs to be embraced. The five online comprehension skills outlined by Castek, et al are really just great reading comprehension skills, but need to be approached differently when reading texts online.

    I love the links to resources that you have included about blogging vocabulary! plan to use these as a reference for myself, and also with my students as I attempt to venture into class blogging this upcoming school year. I’m excited to see how blogging with your high school juniors compares to blogging with my third graders!

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  4. I like the ideas you have listed for instruction and scaffolding. It is a great idea for viewing others blogs. That should be helpful at your grade level. I have used Kidblog with 1st grade. I like it because of the privacy features. Sometimes parents are concerned with having their child’s information public. With Kidbog’s features you can choose who you want to be able to view. With the non-paid version, you are allotted 100 MB of space. Photos and videos add up quickly. You may want to keep that in mind as you decide.

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