Our District is so far behind in technology that it is hard to find a starting point. I think the specific policy I could help the district prepare with is the use of blogs in the 3-5 grade range.
Currently we have Moodle for all grades, and no one really uses it because they don’t know how. The district wants to develop a blogging program for all grades but the lack of computers and training is stopping it from happening. I believe that using blogs for the last year while not making me an expert, does give me an edge on most of the other teachers in the district.
Creating an acceptable use policy is an important part of any learning initiative that involves technology, be it a 1:1 program, BYOD environment, blending learning initiative, etc (Winske, 2014). Most students in the U.S. have technology at school and at home and there are places where that doesn’t exist. This is one of those places. The students here do not understand what acceptable use is, so if we were to throw them into a blog position, no one would know what to do, how to properly use it, and edict in writing. I believe that Acceptable use of technology will be the first main concern; the second will be the teaching of blogging.
For me, blogging is a big point because the only other policy that doesn’t exist yet is student portfolios. Blogging is doable using Moodle as the medium. Blogging is one of the best collaboration tools for students using technology. It is also one of the best tools for authentic writing. The NMC Horizon Project Report 2015 has this to say about authentic learning opportunities:
“Authentic learning, especially that which brings real-life experiences into the classroom, is still all too uncommon in schools. Authentic learning is seen as an important pedagogical strategy, with great potential to increase the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of school, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of learning strategies that incorporate real-life experiences, technology, and tools that are already familiar to students, and interactions from community members are examples of approaches that can bring authentic learning into the classroom. Practices such as these may help retain students in school and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are too often failing to do.”
Student Blogs are engaging and provide them the opportunity to collaborate with others outside of their district. This is what makes them so useful in education. Believe me, Last year I would have been the one that said NO to blogs. I see the use, I have read the research, and I see the need. Students need to be able to use a real tool in education, and this form of collaboration is easier and faster than email. Below is a video by Paul Ellison at Teachers Network which is a quick video about the benefits of blogging.
Rebecca Muller also has a great video on the benefits of blogging at a second grade level.
Her blog is about a primary blogging community. You are connected to schools around the country and share blogs over the course of the school year. The program teaches how to write a blog, how to respond, and it provides students with a voice they may not have had before.
For the students at Whiteriver Elementary, this is what they need to understand that the world is not as small as they think. A class blog would put them into contact with a nationwide classroom, it would force them to write correctly, to think about what they say, and realize that others care what they have to say.
I really want this to happen. I want to use blogs, and I can use Moodle to start, but I cannot do what I want with the limited use of Moodle. I want to incorporate a student blog site that can incorporate video, images, sound, and text. I can see our students getting more out of this than using Sum Dog for math games.
I would be more than willing to create podcasts to teach how to create a blog, how to write a post, and how to respond. I would be willing to help other teachers start and use a blog in the classroom. I feel I have enough information to be dangerous! Lets play!!
NMC Horizon Project (2015). NMC Horizon Report Preview 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-preview.pdf
Muller (Producer). (October 23, 2013). The importance of our Classroom Blog. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh3x0lACVDU
Teachers Network (Producer). (October 15, 2009). Blogging in the Classroom PROMO. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGUtUY8H0nY
Winske, C. (February 17, 2014). K-12 TD Tech Decisions. Retrieved from http://www.k12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives