Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Why Blog?

Several months ago, I was working on a tech blog specifically geared towards Latin teachers. The great response I received there was a major reason why I decided to create this very blog to address the paperless concerns of teachers across disciplines.

Over the next few posts, I will be republishing my articles on setting up and maintaining a blog. This was the most popular feature of the old site and seems to have proven helpful to a number of teachers in the early stages of going paperless.

This is a short piece inspired by a reader who, regarding blogs, asked: 'WHY BOTHER MAKING ONE'?

It's a good question. Here's a handful of reasons:

1) Student Portfolios. Once you know how to set up a blog, you can take your students through the process. I have my students set up their personal blogs following safety procedures to maintain the integrity of graded work posted to the student's blog, yet maintain the vital openness that blogs naturally benefit from. Once the blog is set up, I have the students post original thoughts and reactions to things we've read no less than twice a week and I have them post all of their essays and tests directly to the blogs for grading. By the end of the year, they've created a completely manageable and portable chronological portfolio that measures just how far they've come. It makes parent-teacher conferences a cinch as well; I have the student's portfolio projected on the wall when parents come in so that they can see exactly and day-by-day how their student is performing in class.

2) Grading vocab quizzes / tests. This is what I do (note that all of my vocab quizzes are by dictation). The student opens their blog. As I recite vocab words, the student copies each into a post and then has three to five minutes to answer them all depending on quantity of words (usually between 20 to 30 in a given week). Once finished, the student posts his or her quiz. Now it has a time-stamp on it, so I will know if they have tried to go back and 'fix' things after time has been called (if they do, they forfeit their grade). Once posted, I have the students check their own work. They then post their grades as a comment to their original quiz posting along with corrections of missed words. Again it has a time stamp and when I go back and look over their checked work, if they commit an error in grading they forfeit their grade. This naturally makes for a very careful and honest self-grading where students both learn from their own mistakes and where they learn to take responsibility for their own work; they own the grade.

3) Posting graded essay questions. They post on their blog, I comment and leave a grade. If the student has questions, they can arrange to see me during off mods or we can discuss via a thread on their blog. Easy and authentic. I've even had students use this work in successful applications for scholarships.

4) Interactive real-time RSS calendar. This feature rocks. It's a calendar. And when I enter due dates / test dates / etc onto it, it is both posted online and a copy of the schedule is automatically sent to the student's email. For students who need a little extra 'push' when it comes to due dates, it can also automatically be sent to parents. No more excuse that "I didn't know what the homework was".

5) Podcasts: students will be able to make their own 'radio stations'. These 'radio stations' can be kept in one spot on the blog and downloaded into iTunes playlists for purposes of critique in class discussion, or for just having fun swapping mp3s of class projects. The teacher can create her or his own podcast of lectures, discussions, or models of assignments which can be set to automatically download into student's iTunes. (Students don't have to find it; it automatically comes to them.)

These are just a few ideas. We haven't even started talking about how to use the blog for research and in creating interactive bibliographies. And there's much much more. And the best thing about it is that the limits for classroom application are only limited by the imagination of the classroom teacher. So, think creatively.


  1. Salve,
    Somehow I just found DigLatin in time to discover that you are retiring the site. I, too, am a Latin teacher incorporating/integrating technology into the classroom. I'm currently working with a project in Google Earth (Ancient Rome, of course)with podcasts and text - eventually to be published as a wiki (if I can't get the kmz to work).
    I'd like to suggest that a wiki might be a useful tool for some of the tasks you've recommended. I'd be interested to know when you would use a wiki and when a blog would be better suited to the task. Multas gratias!

  2. Glad you found us. Just posted today about wikis. Much more to come.


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