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Tales from the Trenches: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

March 31, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The UglyThe epic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is probably the most accurate representation of my first experience with blogging in the classroom with students.  It was exciting to try something new and incorporate the highly touted Web 2.0 tool, blogging, into the curriculum to help invigorate a small class with a bad case of the mid-year burnouts.  I just knew that my principal would catch wind of my “fantastic, innovative” teaching strategies, be greatly impressed, give me a raise, name me teacher of the year, and reassign my bus duty permanently for my hard work and efforts – but alas it was not to what I had imagined.  It was however, a “teachable moment (which is a nice way of saying, “It wasn’t perfect, but I’m going to get something out of this!”).”  I learned many lessons from the first time I assigned a room full of teenagers to create a blog – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good The Bad The Ugly
  • Students love to create and design a page which will give them a unique presence on the web. It was fun to see their creativity at work! Many of them have a great eye for design or are great writers. It has been fun to talk to them about future careers that will capitalize on those talents!
  • I didn’t give clear enough directions on my expectations for the blog – next time I will create a sample of the assignment first!
  • We struggled with technology in the initial set-up (servers running slowly, students not knowing their own email address, and spending 100 years choosing the “perfect” blog site name) – Next time I will create a small sheet for each student with their log-in information, the web site to construct the blog, and their email address (I might even have them develop a few potential names of blogs for homework the night before)
  • Students who do not typically get involved in class work and major projects not only completed the assignment but also put a lot of hard work into it. Perhaps I should consider more projects like the blog that will give the students greater flexibility, choice, and freedom.
  • Students rarely give credit to the sources they used for research or for the images they inserted into their blogs – next time I will have a lesson and have the class create a handout about how to give proper credit and why it is important
  • Once the blogs were built, several students could not figure out the interface and were not able to jump right in or created a great post only to forget to publish it, and then panic because it “disappeared.” Next time I will have a longer lesson on how to use the interface and create a cheat sheet with quick tips, tricks, and instructions for commonly used functions.

Overall, our first blogs were great!  We had fun doing it even if things didn’t go off without a hitch.  I was glad however that I experimented with my smallest class so that the next time I implement this lesson plan with a larger number of students, I can be better prepared.

Check out some links for some of the students’ blogs and their first attempts in creating a blog (some are quite good!).

Go ahead, make my day

Go ahead, make my day

http://shadesoftherainbow.edublogs.org/

http://mammut17.edublogs.org/

http://bbakem5602.edublogs.org/

Although the first experience with blogging was a little awkward; I will continue blogging with my students in the classroom. The benefits that were observed, even with a small group of students, were immense.  I look forward to future opportunities to incorporate blogging into projects and authentic learning.  So as Clint Eastwood would say (although I realize it is from another movie but I’m a sucker for a good theme), “Go ahead, make my blog day!”

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