Hello everyone and welcome back!
So this week we were given a prompt based off last week’s reading of one of Bates’ chapters. The chapter discussed the pedagogical differences between different forms of media; including the whens, hows, and all the ways we can/should be using them. Alec and Katia asked us to consider our own experiences learning from digital resources, and what our preferences are when it comes to using digital resources in our classrooms.
I found the chapter to be quite interesting in the sense that it did a really good job of breaking down the conventional and typical ways we often use media in our classrooms. Having a good understanding of when, why and how we should be using certain forms of media is not only important for us as teachers, but it’s critical in making our lessons as effective and engaging as possible for our students.
I decided to focus my time today on Blogging because I feel as though it is an excellent platform to bring in a lot of creativity in the way that we present information to our audiences.
I’d like everyone to take a look at my classmate Amy’s blog, as she made a great effort to implement some of Bates’ theories into practice with her post this week.
Now, the great thing about blogging is that you really don’t have to limit yourself to writing. The beauty of our blogs is that we can reach out and extend our arms to lengths we typically wouldn’t be able to reach in a more traditional form of text. Amy for example, broke everything down using the classic VLOG format. Here, she can use her voice, expression and personality to really get through to her viewers. The added visual component of actually being able to see the person speak in a sense “humanizes” and personifies the words we would typically just read. Here, we’re not only transmitting thoughts and ideas; we’re also getting a sense of the author’s emotions, passions and personality, something that is typically extremely difficult (or simply impossible) to portray through text alone.
Sure enough, as Bates briefly mentions in his chapter, there are definitely limitations to blogging. For one, a blog can’t be too lengthy or technically wordy, otherwise it starts to tread on “academic article” territory; which can’t be considered a blog anymore. But one of the true beauties of blogging is that it allows us to choose a voice that our audience will hear us in; we’re not confined to using our academic or professional voice per se; we can have a little fun with it by bringing in our personality into the realm.
This particular element to blogging is what truly captures my attention. I find that being able to express myself in a more relaxed tone, allows me to behave a lot more like the way I would in real life (including in my classroom). I like to have fun. I like to be sarcastic, joke around and not take things too serious.
As much as I’d like to behave that way all the time, I can’t. I mean, you can’t really pour jokes into an academic essay; but you sure can do that in a blog! But why do I care so much about this? Well, I’m receptive to this type of writing and approach to teaching, and I know that a lot of other people are too (including my actual class). Yes, there’s a time and place for everything, but I’ve found that every now and then, it’s okay to have a little fun with the way you talk, address and teach others.
I’ve been using blogs in my classroom for the past two years. I’d say I’ve had some successes, but I’m still in the midst of trying to really capitalize on the benefits of using this platform in my classroom. I’ve been teaching my students techniques in which they can use their voices in new and exciting ways to communicate ideas to others. For instance, we are currently experimenting with vlogging and using other forms of media to reinforce what they are trying to say with their writing (and how they express themselves).
I use a lot of my own examples to guide them. As most of you have noticed, I really enjoy a good ol’ GIF. Using sites such as GIPHY, I can typically find some sort of fun “moving image” that I can embed into my posts to either highlight some sort of idea or emotion I’m trying to convey through my writing. I mean, it’s one way to (literally) illustrate your ideas and make your writing stronger; and if it’s used properly, it can have some seriously impactful effects on the way we learn and communicate. I also find that it’s a good way to break down all the reading and give my audience some sort of comedic relief or entertaining factor. In my students’ case, they love finding relevant GIFS for their own blog posts because it adds a level of customization that renders their work more unique and personalized. Here, they are learning ways in which they can express ideas using something other than their voice and writing. And since they are sharing their blogs with their classmates, it makes reading their blogs a lot more fun for their audience. Not only that, we can find all sorts of imagery that is relatable to all sorts of people. So why not use pop culture to our advantage?
But it doesn’t stop there. The blog is great because not only can we use all these different types of media to transmit our ideas to our audience, but it allows us to be creative in the way we blend all of these types of resources as a collective whole. In a blog, we can embed videos, photos, GIFS (moving pictures), audio, files, etc. in ways that complement each other. You want the reader to feel some sort of emotion through your writing? Well, you can reinforce it by embedding a song to play at the beginning of your post to “set the mood” for your post. I know I’m playing up the whole “emotional” and “human” end of the stick right now, but sometimes these relatable elements are what make writing more accessible for others.
What is most important about our reading however is that there’s a time and place for all of these tools, and we definitely need to take into consideration when and how we’re using these tools for our lessons. As Amy discusses in her VLOG, are our students’ needs being met by using these tools? Who are we leaving out? Are these tools accessible to everyone inside AND outside of school? These questions will never cease to be the most important.
When I initially started blogging with my class, we were simply writing weekly posts. There was very little exchange between students, and the format was rather dull. As I started blogging in my EC&I 830 class however, I started to realize the strength this tool has when we start incorporating visuals, videos, GIFS and documents to our posts. In teaching these things to my students, I’ve started to notice a lot more enthusiasm and eagerness on my students’ behalf. Kids want to share when they are given more tools to express themselves. By allowing our students to experiment with all of these mediums, we are allowing different types of learners to gain new ways to communicate and express themselves. As long as they are being taught when and how to use these tools to maximize their impact on their audiences, they can tap into a very interesting, fun, personalized and unique way of sharing with one another.
I’m wondering if any of you are doing blogs with their classrooms right now? What are some things you’ve noticed that students particularly enjoy about the process? Are they being provided with various forms of digital tools and resources to build and create unique content? What blog sites have worked best for you? What are some issues you’ve come across? How do you feel about learning how to use these tools first? And last but not least, what are some tips you would suggest for teachers who are wanting to try out bogging in their class?
Thanks for reading everyone, and I look forward to hearing back from you!
Have a great week!