Journal Entry 4

~ Blogging ~

 Objective:  The theme for our final journal entry is “What made you think”.  This prompted me to look through the list of forum topics and then my educational resources until at last I hit on the article, ‘Blogging in the Classroom: A 4-Step guide’ (Dunn, 2012).  With further reflection I noticed that there is some aspect of blogging in almost all of the course objectives.  Not only that, but it also seems to me that it ‘makes the grade’ as a Student Engagement Technique (I don’t understand why it isn’t mentioned in our text?).

Some of the benefits of blogging that Jeff Dunn list are:

  • can be collaborative
  • helps teachers and students to articulate learning goals and objectives
  • provides an authentic learning opportunity
  • promotes computer literacy skills
  • An excellent way to start ‘networking’; by linking together, writing and reading to researching and learning.

Some of the connections I found between blogging to course objectives and forum topics are:

  • Establishes a climate and environment for learning
  • enhances motivation
  • increases student participation
  • uses direct and indirect instructional practices and methods
  • uses active and self-directed learning

As a teacher or a student, what’s not to like?  No wonder the creation of a blog was a major assignment for this course!  I would like to use this entry to delve a little deeper into the heart of blogs and their merits for learning in the classroom.

Reasons why educators blog

*poster retrieved from: Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Reflective:  I’m pretty excited about blogging and all its benefits, especially for online learners.  Having created two blogs now, I am enjoying the further benefits of a sense of achievement and a profound sense of pride.  I can tell you (I probably did already!) that there were times in the making of them that I was totally frustrated and overwhelmed and if it wasn’t for a greedy reliance on extrinsic motivation (insider class joke!) I would have thrown it all out the window…but, I persisted and I am glad for it ~ now.  As for the frustrating part, that was almost all due to technical/computer stuff, nothing to do with the blogging process itself.  Dunn made a statement that I heartily agree with: ‘It’s important not to get distracted by the technology that powers the blogging platform.’ Since there seems to be a wide distribution on the scale of computer skills in a typical class this would be something I would look into before setting it up in my class.   A quick survey of blog platform comparisons (see references for site I used) showed WordPress* as having the most desirable features for what I’m looking for (ease and customization capability).  From experience I would strongly caution that their ‘themes’ be examined for the capabilities they offer.  *Edublogs offers free sites for classroom blogs and is under the WordPress umbrella.

Interpretive:  What makes a good ‘student engagement technique?’To answer that it may be helpful to use Elizabeth Barkley’s (Barkley, 2010) definition: ‘Student engagement is a process and a product that is experienced on a continuum and results from the synergistic interaction between motivation and active learning”.  Translation: where the magic happens.  That interaction just might be working on a blog project that’s of a high interest to the student.  You can have a course blog, like the one we did for this class, focused on course topics.  There is also the ‘class blog’ that the instructor sets up and monitors, the students check it for updates, and can add posts and comments.  There are also learning logs, which are concise, objective and factual in tone, but could be set up like the ‘minute paper’ or ‘muddiest point’.

Decisional:  At this point in time I am planning to enter the field of education in ‘Teaching English as a Second Language’ and I will definitely start off my career with a class blog, one that I can use in a career portfolio as well.  This will be a blog set up as a newsletter/resource center.  There are so many helpful articles out there; I have listed under ‘references’ the ones I used to write this journal.  There are also a lot of ESL blogs in use that will be good examples for setting up my own.  Something I read or heard someone say regarding technology and teaching was along the lines of: ‘If you’re not up to date with what’s going on in the world and in particular your student’s life ~ then how do you expect to be relevant and authentic in your teaching.’  I think blogging is definitely in the realm of top skills required in the 21st. century.   Thanks to PIDP 3250 I have discovered the world of blogging and now ~ nothing will ever be the same again!

http://edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/blogging-in-classroom.png

 *Poster retrieved from: Blogging in the Classroom: A 4-Step guide

References:

Barkley, Elizabeth F., (2010).  Student Engagement Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Blogging in the Classroom: A 4-Step guide.  Retrieved from:

http://www.edudemic.com/2012/12/blogging-in-the-classroom-a-4-step-guide/

Blogging in the classroom: why your students should write online. Retrieved from:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2012/jul/17/students-should-be-blogging

Blogging Platforms Cross Comparison.  Retrieved from:

http://parajunkee.com/2013/04/blogging-platforms-cross-comparison.html

Check out Class Blogs.  Retrieved from:

http://theedublogger.com/check-out-these-class-blogs/

Edublogs Teacher Challenge.  Retrieved from:

http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/challenges-2/blogging-with-students/

Education blogs listed on PostRank

Instructional Strategies Online. Retrieved from:

http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/instr/strats/logs/index.html

Pros and cons of social media in education.  Retrieved from:

http://www.edudemic.com/2013/01/social-media-in-higher-education/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blogging in the Classroom: A 4-Step Guide

Students and teachers have a lot to say. They’re learning things every day and gaining knowledge by the boatload. What better way to express themselves than by blogging? It’s important to not get distracted by the technology that powers the blogging platform. As this visualization from the always wonderful langwitches explains, 21st century skills are learned and enhanced by blogging in the classroom.

 

This simple and straightforward guide should help any teacher, student, or school administrator considering a start down the blog path. It’s worth printing out and keeping by your classroom computer in case anyone needs a quick refresher on why and how to blog!

blogging in the classroom

Journal entry on ‘The Power of Introverts’

Journal Entry 3.

Based on the video presentation:

‘The Power of Introverts’ by Susan Cain

Objective:  Susan Cain summed up her presentation with these three calls to action:

1. Stop Group Work.

2.  Unplug, go into the wilderness, and come up with your own revelations.

3.  Introverts ~ Share who you are.

Even though the general population is comprised of between one third to one half in introverts, our schools, workplaces and religious institutions are predominantly primed for extroverts.  For example, right from the early grades school classes are set up as pods, classes are encouraged to work in groups and it continues all the way up to university.  Teachers are constantly encouraging collaboration, community environments, and group work. Our society’s swing to extroversion seems to have picked up speed in the late 20th century with our love of movie stars and salesmen.  Before that who would have ever thought that a movie star could or would become a President of a country! Susan’s main premise is that as a society the extroverts are given a much bigger piece of the pie in terms of attention and social standing – which is great, it works for them, but in doing so the gifts of the introverts are being overlooked and the world needs both to be balanced.

 Reflective:  Susan has a big fan in me.  I am definitely more on the side of introversion, although I do have my moments on the other side.  Throughout my life I have been conscious of the differences between the two sides since my family is composed of somewhat extreme models of both sides.   Sadly, I have always felt that introversion in our society is thought of as ‘less social’ (hear: loner, outsider, unsociable, uncool). My more introverted self has felt the pressure to conform to a more outgoing way of being: socially, in the workplace and educationally.  Socially we look towards the extroverts to be the life of the party, for work we ‘sell ourselves’ starting with our resumes and we seem to be always ‘in the public eye’, and at school it seems the emphasis is to work together in community. These are all wonderful things however; it is not the only way of being. My feeling is that in our society we have pushed so hard to become extroverted that many people have forgotten how to reflect and spend time in solitude, that the majority of younger people would have no idea what to do with themselves if they were ever to be ‘unplugged’.  I think Susan is right, as a culture we have become unbalanced – we always seem to be ‘doing’ with little very little inner guidance that comes from solitude.

 Interpretive:  We live in a very competitive world so if you want to be noticed you need to develop a more extroverted way of expressing yourself.  The drive to be extroverted is so ubiquitous in our society that it has become hard to remember what natural introversion is like.  Social media has turned us into a human bee hive, always in constant communication.  Is that a good thing?  Is the phenomenon known as ‘group think’ a result of our overly extroverted ideals?  Group think is defined as really bad decision making by a group of people and ruled over by peer pressure.  Group think has been the cause of some disastrous fiascos (ie. the escalation of the Vietnam war) and is a real danger to society. When it comes to society, education and business there are other negative setbacks to extroversion as McAfee quotes from Cain’s research;

“…decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases. The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” wrote the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham…

The reasons brainstorming fails are instructive for other forms of group work, too. People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure.”

As students haven’t we all experienced this?  Who hasn’t been involved with a group project where those familiar lines are drawn right from day one.  For introverts they are they worst, most frustrating tortures you can be put through and yet every term it seems you have to get through at least a couple. However, the news is much more favourable for online group work. Again according to Cain:

“The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.”

 Decisional: In my classes I will endeavor to ‘give back power to the introverts’.  No more will there be so called ‘Ice Breakers’ that cause introverts so much gut wrenching discomfort by sticking them in the bright lights on centre stage.   There are gentle ways for people to get familiarized with each other such as introducing yourself to the person next to you and they will then introduce you to the class.  I will also abolish written group projects that are heavily weighted, unless; they are online, structured, and facilitated by the instructor.   I have participated in face to face group projects that have been fun and creative, but they have usually been in workshops where preparation time is relatively short, everybody is involved, it usually is action oriented ie. a skit or role modeling, and everyone presents during that time. In my experience that method also creates a much more empathic and creative community of learners.  I will look for ways to insert reflection time into topics, for instance, journaling.  I think that journaling is an amazing tool for developing our own revelations through contemplating in solitude.

 References:

 Cain, Susan.  (2012)  The Power of Intoverts.  As retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

Janis, Irving L.  (1982). Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Retrieved from: http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm

 McAfee, Andrew.  (2012).  The Surprising Benefits of Solitude. Harvard Business Review. Retreived from: http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/mcafee/2012/01/the-surprising-benefits-of-sol.html

Journal Entry: 1

3250 Journal Entry: 1

based on:

Student Engagement Techniques by E. Barkley

(chapters 1-4)

 May 17, 2013

 Objective: Barkley states, “Many educators believe motivation, sometimes defined as the feeling of interest or enthusiasm that makes somebody want to do something, is at the heart of student engagement.  …Yet students’ emotions have been the least studied and most overlooked aspect of classroom teaching.”

 Reflective:  This quote points to something that I have often puzzled over as one of life’s little mysteries but have never put any serious thought towards it before now.  My interest regarding a course (or lack of interest) was something I put away on a shelf since it didn’t seem like it had any bearing on the overall program. Who cared how you felt about a course?  In order to finish the program you had to take all the courses, end of story. Sure enough, except for the odd course, the subjects that I was interested in were often the courses I did well in.  The opposite was also true; the courses I wasn’t interested in were much harder to do well in.  Owing to the concept of motivation, I see now how emotions play such a large part on how we do in a course.  The big mystery now is ~ how this concept has been overlooked for so long! 

 Interpretive:  Wlodkowski noticed that, “When there is no motivation to learn, there is no learning….”  I guess it’s true what they say, “It takes a genius (or a psychologist) to point out the obvious.” Although now we have the neuroscience to back it up.  Most people are probably aware that the ideas they are interested in are the things that they engage in and do well at. Take hobbies for instance, how many hobbyists do you know that produce the most amazing projects? It follows that when we engage in activities we enjoy we are happy and relaxed which leads to endorphins in the blood which lead us to bigger and better ideas and of course, the inverse of what Wlodkowski points out becomes true – there is learning. My theory on this is that every generation has its guiding belief.   In the previous generation being ‘intelligent’ was the aspiration, and that seemed to equate specifically to cognitive intelligence.  This generation is more inclusive and has added the idea of multi-intelligences, one of which is emotional intelligence.   Goleman who coined the term ‘emotional intelligence’ defined it as the ability to examine your own feelings as well as the feelings of others.  If we continue along this line of reasoning we find that educators believe that if we have positive feeling for something (such as a course topic) we are motivated to engage with it and that leads us to actively learn (Barkley, 2010).

 Decisional: 

Barkley suggests that there are two ways in which our emotions can play a large part in our learning, they are; a) the milieu of the learning environment: and, b) the emotional relationship we have to what we are to learn.  The ways I can promote that criterion as a teacher are:

  • Encourage a respectful classroom environment.  This would take the form of confidentiality, respectful listening and constructive criticism by all participants.
  • Make myself available for help during regular office hours as well as through a messaging system and online.
  • Have an online open forum for questions and discussion.
  • Be sure to tie learning goals to multiple domains.
  • Point out how the learning content relates to the overall subject matter.
  • Be sure that all projects are authentic.
  • Have an assessment strategy in place and give prompt feedback.

 In these ways I would hope to provide a supportive learning environment that helps students actively engage in the course and realize their potential.

 

 References:

Barkley, Elizabeth F., (2010).  Student Engagement Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.