Thing #4: Reflections on blogging in education

My reactions to the blogs I read ranged from helpful to exciting to disturbing.

Beginning with the disturbing: As a humanities teacher of 8 to 10 year olds, I found myself appalled at the blog about using independent reading time for reading blogs http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/mahlness/2007/02/is-this-ssr-20.html – I guess I’m just old-fashioned, but I think it’s really important for kids to snuggle up with a good book during reading time.  I find reading on a computer to be a really different type of reading. It has its value, but I would NOT want to see that replace, to any extent, the time students spend with books. As flawed as the publishing system may be, there is at least a process which makes it likely that when the students pick a book off my shelves, or off the shelves of our school library, it probably contains content which is appropriate for their age, sentences which were (hopefully) mulled over and rewritten repeatedly until it emerges as Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach or even Lightning Thief. There’s a good chance that it’s worth the time spent getting to know the characters, the setting, making predictions about the plot, etc. I have read some fabulous blogs, so I’m not saying there aren’t thousands of amazing writers out there who don’t have a book on my shelves, I’m just saying that there are so many other types of writing out there as well, that it’s might be an iffier proposition.

Compelling: The blog about not assigning homework, http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=133 which is a subject I’m interested in pursuing further. Our faculty has been batting this one around, without yet being able to reach a conclusion. Some of our parents and some of the teachers would feel we are not doing right by our children NOT to assign homework, and some feel the opposite. It seems like the data out there can be made to support your own conclusion – which leaves us to founder on, assigning less than we used to, and wondering if that is more or less beneficial to the students.

Scary: The blog about the way students have used youtube to expose students to a wider audience of sneers, Spies like us . . . http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2007/01/spies-like-us.html

No need to say more about that one!

Eye-opening: The Myth of the digital native, http://betch.edublogs.org/2009/01/06/the-myth-of-the-digital-native/ It’s true that being able to figure out how to download a song for your ipod or how to program phone numbers into a cell phone without breaking a sweat or opening the manual does not a digital native make. Neither of my teen aged children knows a thing about html programming. But then, do I know what’s under the hood of my car? Or what a timing belt times? Maybe 100 years ago, it was reasonable to think that people understood most of the tools and machines they used in their daily life. Now many of us are delighted if we know where the power button is.

Intriguing: Teaching Brevity at Students 2.0, http://students2oh.org/2007/12/16/teaching-brevity/ Having just finished listening to the entire, unabridged sixty hour version of Les Miserables, I had to chuckle to think of this student’s potential reaction to Victor Hugo. I don’t think we should confuse quantity with quality any more than we confuse brevity with quality. Tweet Tweet!

I am a slow reader, hate reading on a screen, just devoted many many hours to reading these and many other blogs. It was a great opportunity, and left me with plenty to ponder, but I can’t wait to close up the computer and go pick up my current book!

One thought on “Thing #4: Reflections on blogging in education

  1. Hello, I am Mike, responding as part of the 23 Things course. I teach 5/6 humanities. I was struck by your comments on reading blogs for DEAR. It makes me uneasy. At our MS we already have a huge bank of computers blocking the way to the books, which, I think, sends a subliminal message to kids that the computer should be their first stop. I like to see my kids “browsing” the shelves, which is different than “surfing” for topics in blogs. I like the idea of using blogs to promote more conversation between kids about what they are reading, but I think that I would like the conversation to revolve around the great books they choose from the shelves. To me there is a great difference between the writing that has gone into someone’s blog and “Danny the Champion of the World.” However, I want to explore blogs more with my students and find the ways that help them develop as learners in this world that keeps changing.

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