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:
- Constructing useful questions
- Locating information
- Critically evaluating that information
- Synthesizing information
- 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.
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.