Monday, January 14, 2008

Week 1 - Personal Reflections

Think Before You Blog

Now our course is just beginning, so let's take some time to think about our previous experiences with blogging for educational purposes, or to dream of how blogging could be used as a vehicle for professional development or for the benefit of the students enrolled in your courses.

Please share your experiences and reflections about blogging with the group. In your comment, please reflect on any or all of the following questions:

Have you ever blogged?

Have you ever blogged with your classes?

How might a blog contribute to your professional development?

What might you do with a blog in your classes?


Dennis in Phoenix said...

Hi, everyone. This is Dennis in Phoenix.

I first became involved in blogging in the late 1990s, when blogs first began to be popular. At that time, however, blogs were mostly individual online journals and were not very interactive or collaborative. Consequently, I felt more or less as if I was intruding on people's private lives when I read those early blogs, and this made me uncomfortable, so I lost interest.

I got re-involved in blogging in 2004 or 2005. By that time, blogging was still largely personal, but participative elements were becoming more important, so during this "second round," I didn't "drop out."

My most memorable blogging experience to date involved An International Exchange, a multicultural collaborative blog started by Carla Arena and involving students in the school where I was working at that time and students studying English in Brazil. I participated in this blog with three or four of my classes and teachers from two other classes were also a part of it. Carla and I also became very good friends because of our mutual involvement in this blog.

I enjoyed An International Exchange immensely because of the high degree of interactivity between me, Carla, and our students. It was a very satisfying and personally enriching experience. I also learned a lot about how to facilitate interactivity through work with this blog.

Gabriela Grosseck said...

I blog since 2006 on Blogger mainly for my professional development.

I tried last year to involve my students in blogging (I even create a blog for the discipline) but unfortunately I couldn't find the "spice" for involving / contributing the students actively.

Dorinda said...

Hi that a word? I am Dorinda Contreras and I have been blogging since about 2006 and I am co-blogger with Mary H on a page called Bilingual Babble. I started another one call Cultural connexion which was to be used by students and internation students which never flew.

I like blogging, but don´t always find the time because I have two small children who like to play at things they shouldn`t when they know Mom is on the Compu hahaha.

I have have faith that blogging can be a really cool way to have students practice what they are learning in class. For my Spanish classes, I use wikis and have had some success. I make adding to other student wikis extra credit hahaha Students seem to like that.


Pat said...

Hi everyone,
I started blogging last year. I had heard a lot about it, but had no idea how to use one with my primary English classes. Last year though, I decided to create a blog to share things done in English classes with teachers, parents and the community outside school. Just by posting pictures, the blog motivated students and their motivation was and still is my satisfaction!
Now, I feel much more can be done; the blog can innovate and stimulate even more my students, but in order to do this I need to use the new technologies and tools available effectively.

johoca said...

I started blogging just last year with my class. I made it compulsory and gave them grades for that. That class complained about it being compulsory so this year I made it an alternative to spoken participation in classroom discussions. Maybe a bit less than half got blogs and then probably only half of them did it regularly, but the response was much more positive. The students liked having an alternative. I started my own blog as well in order to motivate the students to write, I tried to write once a week. I think it worked but I would like to develop it.

Lilian, Egypt said...

If you mean I kept a blog myself, then the answer is no though I often wanted to. I, though, have read many blogs and posted comments to many more. Maybe because I haven't worked with students in a tech context so far is one of the reasons I haven't tried blogging myself or with my classes.
I believe a blog can allow me to share ideas with other professionals from around the world, especially those working in the same context as I do. I also think blogging can motivate me to explore new ideas and try them with my students in the future.
I'm very much interested in using blogs in my writing classes, or writing components in integrated classes. I think they can be a good medium for peer and teacher review. It can also include links to sites that can help students with their most problematic areas (e.g. punctuation, style, transitions).
Besides, if the blog has audio/video materials, I believe it can be used for enhancing students' listening skills.

dvmunca said...

I am relatively new to blogging, but last semester I realized to create an ESL class blog and successfully implement it as a tool in my ESL Lab class. I still have a lot to learn, but I am sure blogging can offer endless possibilities for enhancing the classroom instruction:
- as resourses, with intresting posts and links
- as tools, with shortcuts to online dictionaries, puzzle-makers, etc
- as a method to involve students in collaborative projects

Autora de Wonder Series said...

Hello everyone,
This is Sara from Lima, Peru.
I have actually created a blog for a class I took last yearbut it was mainly to provide information about a product. Not interactive at all. I have also read personal blogs but have never blogged with my classes. As I mentioned before, I believe blogging will contribute to making me a better teacher and make my classes more interactive, relevant, creative and real.

Anonymous said...

Hello everybody! I'm cecilia from Argentina.
I've decided to enter this group as a kind of science fiction experience. I've blogged last year for the first time as part of a carreer I started at university in order to take a degree in english teaching. I think that if I learn how to blog my performance and classes will enhance dramatically since we may implement new ways of communicating and teaching necessary to catch up with learners which are really immersed in the world of technology.

Mary H said...

Thanks for sharing your personal reflections about blogging. It seems that many of you who have blogged with students mentioned that you would like to find ways to motivate students to participate more, and to find new and interesting things to do with a blog. During our session, we'll cover these topics, especially during Week Three. As Dennis mentioned, he and Carla Arena collaborated through a blog and had fantastic results. There are many ways to involve other people or to use online tools to "spice" up your blog!

I have been blogging since about 2006. Like Dorinda mentioned, it is difficult to find the time to read, write, and reflect! Dorinda and I co-author a blog about trying to raise our children bilingually, and although I want to write more about this topic, it is hard to find the time.

I most consistently blog on my personal blog and my professional development blog. Because of their reflective nature, blogs are well suited for educational purposes.

Finally, this past year, I started blogging with a group of students and we had a great time. Sara wrote that blogs could be used to "make my classes more interactive, relevant, creative and real." Yes, exactly!

Looking forward to more personal reflections about blogging!

Gladys Baya said...

What an interesting discussion has started here!
Like many of you, I also find it really hard to afford some time to blog regularly, but i've just learnt about micro-blogging, which seems to be working for me. You can see my Tumblr if you're eager to peep into it right now, but we'll look into this kind of blogging in more detail during the workshop, so don't rush!
As for getting our classes to blog, experience has taught me no tool can turn non-readers into writers, but with photolog, videologs, audiologs, podcasts and microblogs there's likely to be something to help each of them get started, don't you think?

Let's explore options together!


webgina said...

I did some blogging a few years ago (during a MySpace addiction) and have read many blogs. I became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of STUFF out there (and gave up trying to wade through the numbers of really bad, dull, and uninteresting blogs out there to find the true gems--I love the cartoon posted at the top).
I became interested in blogging again last year when a co-teacher started a blog for a class that we shared. It died out and I would like to know what we could of/should of done differently.
I'm interested in using blogs in my educational setting to build community and to help students stay connected when they leave the school and go back to their other lives. Also, I think the writing practice would be terrific for the students.

consuelo, the novice said...

Hello everybody.

I started feeling a bit nervous about this adventure, after reading your comments. I have no experience with blogs, not even at personal level. I became interested in it because of the masters that I am doing now. It seems that it is time consuming but very rewarding. i think it is of great benefit for shy students.

Consuelo, the novice

Ana Maria said...

Dear Consuelo,

Feeling nervous is ok. I know how it feels with this overload of info and people who seem to really know what they´re doing. But don´t worry we´re all learners here.

Hello all,
I started blogging not long ago and have become deeply enthusiastic about the possibilities of communication. I have a personal blog where I try out new tools and every semester create new class blogs for my groups. I have tried several things with them but I´m still trying to get my students more and more involved with the idea of interacting outside the classroom. Like Gabriela said earlier getting them involved is no easy job.

Chrissy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larien said...

I also have no experience writing a blog but have thought about it many times. I have read many blogs with different topics. I am very interested in learning from the more advanced bloggers in this group. Keeping the interest of the students is a great topic to consider, as well as just how to start for us beginners! :)

Lucía said...

I've already posted a comment before, but I don't know what I've done wrong that it doesn't appear in the list. I'm new to blogging... I'm sorry to say I'm just like Ted (the guy in the cartoon) I started my own blog, but mainly due to lack of time, I couldn't use it much. I'd like to be able to answer all the questions you asked effectively by the end of February!!!

smilin7 said...

I'm going to copy the comment I left on the blog for the "What exactly is blogging, anyway?" article:
Thank you for the article and thank you to all who have posted -- very useful information. Anything that furthers my self-reflection is of great value to me. I began blogging via a free educators' opportunity offered by TESOL ( few years back (2003?)[when they were not usually free]. I've experimented very briefly with different blog hosts. My most successful blog was one I created for the primary purpose of sharing my adventure of teaching/living in South Korea for one year. I posted over 500 photos, and wrote fairly consistently. [Unfortunately, that was an annual fee-based blog, and I decided this past year to discontinue paying for it, so it is not open and available to share with you now.] However, I was much less successful getting more than a few students involved in it, and personally disappointed at the lack of comments I received.
Since this inception, I've discovered Moodles and am a "Moodle Maniac!" [] One question I have is how would one explain (in plain English) the difference between a blog and a CMS/LMS (course/learning management systems) like the Moodles that I love to use? Threaded and searchable discussions are much preferred by me than blog posts' comment-strings.
I have a few inactive blogs floating around (although I try to post periodically or to delete them). In my experience, my personal motivation lags with blogs when there's not frequent activity. With Moodles, it's easy to track activity, easier to spark activity, easier to "feed" off other participants' entries.
My most recent blog:
Recently, "blogs" seem to be the preferred buzz again -- and I'm curious as to why? (over WIKIs, over management systems like Moodle)?
Comments? Thanks again,
*I'll add this: as per Dennis and others, the personal enrichment factor of "little ol' me" communicating with energized people around the globe is HUGE.

Mary H said...

Hi Larien and Lucia,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with blogs. During week two, we'll examine different blog hosts, and decide where we would like to start our blogs. Please don't worry if you haven't blogged much before--we're all here to help and support each other through this learning journey. I'll be looking forward to your reflections about it in February, like you mentioned, Lucia!

Natasa said...

Hello everyone.
Like some other people here, I have never blogged. So I have got more questions than answers. My main question is: How do you keep the students motivated?
I have looked at some people’s class blogs and I am really impressed. A lot of hard work has gone into them. I can’t wait to learn more about how I could do something like that with my students.

Angeles Hernández said...

I have used blogs as a substitute of personal written compositions. Instead of seting a topic I put the writing tasks on a blog, through different entries and they must write their assignments through the comments. That way we can see everybodys' writing and check grammar points or vocabulary in class.
It is also helpful to keep a copy of every students writing along the year and check their progress.


Carla Arena said...

Dear Holly,

Interesting question you brought up about MOODLE, a learning management system, and blogs. Well, I've just taught an online course for EFL students using MOODLE. It's great to have a place in which content is meaningfully organized to learners. They can find their way around, we can keep track of what they are doing, where they've been accessing, their activities in general. This is an advantage. However, in general, MOODLE is walled. When we're talking about formal course, it's password-protected and after some time institutions may even delete the content from past courses or deny access to them. It has happened to me in an online course I was taking. Meaning that when the course was over, the content I produced was not mine anymore. No sense of authorship, at all, which is exactly one of the engaging aspect of blogging. Oh yes, you have blogs and wikis in MOODLE. But, then, even if you produced, edited them, once the course is over, they are over. So, blogging is about having your own open space for reflections, dialogue, establishment of connections. What I did with my online course was to get the best of both worlds, the walled and the open. I used MOODLES and blogs. The result? The sense of belonging on the part of participants. They used the interactive features in MOODLE to its fullest, but still kept their free-access zone in which they can retrieve what they wrote a while ago, our conversations, and they will be able to follow the classes to come as it was a class blog and I intend to use it with other students. I must tell you that it was a recurrent preoccupation they had: when the course is over, will I be able to retrieve the content I produced?

Because of this, I also created a community for them when it was over transferring some of their most meaningful content to it. It's their production, their ownership, not mine, not the institution's.

Take a look at it and feel free to ask! I'd love to go even deeper in this discussion. I'm really passionate about this topic of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), and certainly LMS like MOODLE and blogs fit this category, but in different ways. I'd say that they complement each other.

Listening Plus Ning Community.

My 2 cents!

Carla Arena said...

Dear Natasa,

How do we keep students motivated to blog? That's the question we're always asking ourselves! No straight answer. In fact, I'd say that it will all depend on the educator understanding the students'needs and interests. What drives them? What are they passionate about?
There are no formulas. There are some guidelines and some tricks, but the main thing is to find ways that trigger that passion in the students to be there with you, to reply to you, to talk to you. We'll be exploring some ideas in the next weeks. Blogging is about trial and error, it's about find your own tone. What works for me and my students might not work in your setting, but the great aspect of it is that it's flexible with limitless possibilities! Don't worry. I'm sure you'll find your own blogging style.

Angeles, you mentioned an interesting aspect of blogging. It can certainly be a place for developing an e-portfolio of your production, leading to self-reflection and knowledge construction. I've been keeping my records of my Webcasting adventure, and it's really interesting to get back and see what I've been through, how much I've accomplish and where I want to go from there.

Webcasters-to-be Adventures

Thanks for your insights.

christian2966 said...

Hi, this is Christian. I'm a EFL teacher and I work in two completely different schools, one is a catholic school from PreK to 4th grade secondary school, the other is a school for adults.

My main objective with this workshop is to create my own blog to keep in touch with my adult students. As we all know adults don't have a regular attendance to classes and it is very difficult for them to keep the pace of the course activities, they have to work on shifts, look for their babies or in some cases some students don't have money to get to school every day. When they come to class again we have a gap of two, three or more weeks, so it is difficult for them and for me to start all the thing again almost from the beginning-

The idea of keeping a blog is to give the possibility to be informed about the subject, the contents, get the handouts, even the tests to exercise, send their assignments and of course their doubts to be clarified. In this way they will come back with no problems.

It's a good idea, so I hope to learn a lot from all of you because I don't have experience in blogging.

Thanks and see you.

Micalet said...


That's exactly what I've been doing with some of my classes this semester. Except I've allowed them to hand their work in on paper if they prefer/insist.

[tried to post this a few minutes ago but it hasn't appeared so trying again - maybe I didn't do the word verification??]


pab said...

Blogged I have, especially in the past year or so - too much for comfort or health. Only reluctantly have I allowed my blogging time to shift from experimental, personal/reflective, and professional developmental blogging, to blogging with students in a writing course that started last April, just after the Blogging for Beginners workshop tailed off. I have gained a great deal of both personal and professional satisfaction from blogging, and am particularly fond of the ownership Carla mentioned in response to Holly (January 16, 2008 6:58 PM, above) that individual blogging affords writers. What I like to do with a blog for my classes is everything that I used to try to do with handouts, email, or chat, and that I cannot (or will not till much later) also do (or do better) on a wiki.

Dennis said...

..Took me a little while to find "Jump to comment form".. I've produced a few blogs, using Blogger mostly, but Wordpress as well. I think blogs have moved far away from the etymological meaning "web log". Someone has played around with Blogger and managed to publish a novel on it and I've used blogs more as presentational devices, with links to sound, video and other sites. A strong feature of blogs is their built-in facility for readers' comments - though far too few people do comment.

Dennis said...

Pab (Right?) You mention wikis, and I am still trying to work out for myself what the essential differences are. It seems to me that they have become more and more similar. I still find it a disavantage the blogs display the last message first. And that is why I like Wordpress, because you can get around that. But Blogger is MUCH easier to use.

Consuelo, the novice said...

Christian I do not have experience blogging either, but I think that apart from keeping students informed of the work that has been done in class, we should open some espace for them to express their feelings, to get to know each other and the teacher,which will be of benefit for their language development as well.

pab said...

Dennis said...

"Pab (Right?)"

Yes, Dennis, pab (without capitalization) works for me, as do other handles that I may have listed in an intro. message lost to the Yahoo! mailing list, or in the background upon logout a few days ago: pabeaufait (maybe PABeaufait in AIM), Paul, or PaulB.

"I am still trying to work out for myself what the essential differences are. It seems to me that they have become more and more similar."

They certainly are. More and more wikis offer messaging and commenting functions. You can even find blikis, which are deliberate blends of blog and wiki functionality.

"I still find it a disavantage the blogs display the last message first. And that is why I like Wordpress, because you can get around that. But Blogger is MUCH easier to use" (January 18, 2008 12:58 AM).

Dennis, as you've suggested, a characteristic of blog organization is reverse chronological order of posts, which Wordpress blogs augment through provisions for cross-links to wiki-like pages.

Cheers, Paul

Edita said...

Hi people! I started using blogs last year. I created
My first idea was to use my secondary school blog to publish productions from different classes. Then I realised that my teenage students were reluctant to share and comment on other students´productions they don´t know. This year I will use the blog with only one class and will ask them to choose the topic.

Yvonne C said...

I started using blogs about 3 years ago as part of an EVO workshop. My first two were for personal and professional reflection. I wasn't very consistent with adding to them, however.

Last year, I began doing blogging with my classes. The biggest trouble I had was finding blogs that could get through our school filter. The only one I have found to do so is Edublogs by Wordpress. I have a class blog for each class and each of my students has their own blog. I require students to write in their blogs as part of their grade a couple of times a week. They enjoy it. They often will put final drafts of papers there and then they serve as a portfolio of the work they do over the course of a year. The one aspect I have not figured out is how to get them to comment on each others blogs and also to get a wider audience for them. That is something I would like to work on.

I hope to get more ideas for using blogs, get more efficient and consistent with them, and get a better understanding of the value of tagging this year.

Velma said...

Hi ya!

Well, what can I say...had heard of and seen blogs but never gave any importance to it. but since I strted working with Pat Soares and saw how enthusiastic she is about blogs...I got curious and motivated to find out more about blogs and of course to find other ways to motivate my students.


Lindsay said...

I've never blogged, but I have some experience of wikis..Really not sure whether blogging could enhance my existing classes (I'm a freelancer teaching adult learners -professionals and "leisure-time" learners).However,as the e-worls seems to be the future of teaching, I'm hoping to become familiar and compfortable using blogs, wikis etc.

Beyza said...

I've been blogging since 2007.I keep one personal blog and I sometimes keep other blogs with some of my classes.I'm trying to integrate wikis into my lessons but I still find blogs useful.

In my opinion they can be used to:
1)Reflect upon the learners' own learning process.
2)Provide stimulus for the students to speak or interact.
3)Share useful links with learners.
4)Create an opportunity for them to get peer feedback.

As a language teacher I keep my blog to:
1)keep an online diary of my own teaching experiences.
2)receive constructive feedback to improve my ideas.
3)be more aware of my own ideas about TEFL.
4)to have a presence on the internet.

There are various activities that can be done with our students by using blogs. I think it depends on the teachers' creativity.

Happy Blogging

Mary H said...

Yvonne, you mentioned that you are interested in finding a wider audience for your students' blogs and also learning more about the value of tagging. As we'll learn in Week Three, tagging posts really opens up the potential for bloggers to find each other. In fact, through tags, I met co-moderator of Blogging4Educators, Vance Stevens! He will have lots to share with us in Week Three, so stay tuned!

Beyza, I totally agree that there are endless possibilities with blogging! As we have many creative educators in this group, we are likely to share many ideas over the course of this workshop. Carla A has been involved in several memorable blogging projects, and I'm sure she'll share these, and others, with the group!

It has been such a pleasure to read everyone's personal experiences with blogging! We have an energetic group :)

hocamca said...

Am having trouble leaving messgaes

f_bridi said...

Hello everybody,

I began blogging last year when I started two class blogs: one for pre-intermediate teenage students and another one for 8 year olds.

It was completely new for me and, as I was exploring its possibilities, my only goals were to enhance their contact with the English language and give them the chance of having fun while learning English.

I posted almost everything my peers and I prepared for those levels and boosted the blog with some extras like songs, videos, extra exercises, pictures etc. - without thourough planning I confess.

I understand now that the possibilities of blogging are much wider for teaching and learning. A blog takes discussion and interaction to a level you could hardly find in real life – consider the cultural exchange of ideas we’re having here for example.

What might I do with a blog in my classes? Well, I think I can still work on the cultural and fun part of it but with a different approach: planning the content of my blog in a way that is wiser and more self-conscious.

Cheers from rainy Uberlândia, Brazil

Fabiana Bridi

P.S.: It's high time to start my personal blog, isn't it?

pab said...

Wow! Fabiana!

Reflecting on your experience posting all kinds of collected and prepared materials on blogs for young learners of English, you express the understanding, just one year on, that "the possibilities of blogging are much wider for teaching and learning" than simply content delivery.

You realize that blogging can raise "discussion and interaction to a level you could hardly find in real life," and offer the exchange occurring on this blog as an example.

Indeed it may be time for you to start a personal blog where you can try out your approaches to what is "cultural and fun" combined with more deliberate planning, selection, and organization of blog content.

Below is a link to the blog I that adapted to use in Blogging for Beginners last year (Archive: January 2007, ff.; Label: b4b). Though it does represent filtering or selection of blog content, expressly for sharing in B4B; it's probably a better example of experimentation than of planning.

Cheers, Paul
pab's potpourri
from chilly rainy Kumamoto

pab said...

Hello again,

Sorry about the broken links deep into the blog I used for B4B last year.

Here are corrected, open links:

Cheers, Paul

andreea pele said...

dear carla, here's a link to a rather lengthy explanation of the Bologna process.
it's become a buzzword in romania, these days.
and btw, you've really given me food for thought there. ;)

have a great weekend!

Karen said...

Hi everyone. This is Karen in NH.

As usual, I am a little behind the 8-ball, posting my first week's post at the end of week 3. I am new to blogging, although I have a couple educational blogs that I follow on a regular basis. I have always been a little afraid of blogging - how do you find something to write about on a regular basis? I have just started a graduate class on Content Literacy and we will be using blogging as part of the class so this class and the graduate class are the first experience I have had with blogging for professional development. I would like to use a blog in class for discussion on the use of social networking in education and for my students to share learning experiences. Hopefully, this class will help push me in that direction.

Carla Arena said...

Dear Karen,

Welcome to the exciting world of blogging! I'm sure you'll see that there's no need to be afraid. Every detail of our daily lives can become a wonderful blog post. You'll see it can even become a little addictive! I hope you find blogging as engaging in this group as we believe it is!

Count on us to give you support in your professional endeavors.

marry said...

oho good dear !!!! very interesting blog and a good posting !!! you must maintain your blog, its interesting !!! Nice Buddy

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