Bates and blogs

Hello everyone and welcome back!

Oh, hello there!
SOURCE: GIPHY

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.

In our readings, we focused on text, audio and video. In each section, Bates discusses the pros and cons of each media, including when and how we should be applying these things in our classrooms.

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.

Okay, when I said “humanize”, I didn’t quite mean this…
SOURCE: GIPHY

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.

SOURCE: GIPHY

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.

SOURCE: GIPHY

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?

Ohhh, why not?
SOURCE: GIPHY

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!

Dre

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9 thoughts on “Bates and blogs”

  1. Totally agree with the blogs. I don’t currently have any blogs happening. Years ago, when I had my grade 2 classroom we did have one, and the kids loved it. They were especially excited when their parents commented on them! I am team teaching in ELA 20 right now, and the teacher and I are going to start one- the ELA 20 is such a natural place with the focus on identity. Prior to the Bates reading I hadn’t really thought of the blog offering visual, text, and audio possibilities all in one place. I also like that kids can link to more scholarly articles or others blogs to help express their own opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What do you use for your student blogs? Do you like it? I’ve just been using shared google docs within google classroom as a type of blog as students write and respond to each other, but the audience isn’t very wide (not beyond our classroom). I’d love to hear what your recommendations are for what is working and what isn’t for blogging. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Hey! So I’m currently using edublogs. I actually had to pay to have a classroom, but I’d say it works and it’s worth it. As far as what doesn’t work too well? I’d suggest always having clear instructions and expectations as to what you’re expecting from them. I do a lot of scaffolding and show them exactly how to do everything as they are still young (grade 6). Sometimes I have days where they only comment on each other’s blogs. Some days we share what we wrote orally in front of the class. Sometimes I make them find a website or another blog that they must include and talk about in their blog. Sometimes we review a product or a book. Whatever we’re do no though, I make sure to use concrete examples, often things I’ve done myself. What doesn’t work too well is when you just let them go for it when they don’t know how to use all the tools at their disposal. It all takes time but once you start to build off these foundations, the kids learn to use the tool in more expansive and explorative ways.

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  3. Thanks for the shout out, Dre! You have a really eloquent way of linking what Bates had to say, with what I did and I really appreciate that! Additionally, I’m loving the Gifs you have implemented, and I totally agree that blogging allows for a unique platform to be informally ‘you’ while conveying important, thoughtful insights!

    I’m curious to know more about your student’s blogs – are they required to respond to others blogs? What are some of the tools they utilize in their blogging?

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Amy! Thank you! I loved that you vlogged this week. I almost ended up doing it but then got cold feet. Hahahha go figure!

      Anyway! I suggest reading over what I wrote back to Natalie because it answers some of your questions.

      I personally would like to do more vlogging however, as it adds an extra dimension where students can get extra creative with the way they present themselves. As long as they are being introduced to all the tools you want them to use, it goes well. It’s easy to slip however. Sometimes I just have them write in their blog without a prompt or a specific task, which often results in less than spectacular outcomes. I am very specific in what I’m looking for, down to minimum word count, pix, etc. I’d like to implement some of the tools we’re using in our eci834 class right now. Like screen casting for example could be interesting with grade 6’s. I mean, what would they show us? Probably a lot! They haven’t used YouTube yet but I’d like to progress to that soon. Keeping things relatively basic but still open enough for them to get creative and have fun with it. Some students are super ambitious and try crazy things you wouldn’t expect, which is always nice.

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  4. I agree that using a GIPH helps to add an element of entertainment and at the same time, strengthens the point you are trying to make.
    My students have been blogging in my classroom for 3 years now. I just switched them from Kidblog to Blogger. Now that my students are all on google docs, I thought it made sense. Also, it is free! They now have their own blog address that they came up with and are excited to comment on their classmates blogs. We are just working on how to properly credit photos in our blogs. I think we will need some time to work on that, and then we will work on commenting appropriately. I like your idea of vlogging for sure. I know my students will have a lot of fun with that. Thanks for the ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s excellent! I think the sooner they start learning how to credit and cite their resources, the better. It’s a tedious task but the more they learn about it the better. It’s great to hear things are going well for you, I think it’s great to see more and more teachers explore and make use of these online and digital tools. Pretty soon we’ll be learning more from them, so we may as well lay down the groundwork and help them pave the future. Thanks for the excellent comment Jennifer, and thanks for stopping by!

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      1. Your welcome! I enjoy reading your blogs.
        I agree, as educators we teach them new concepts, but they teach so much to each other (and to us). Especially the students who do not have a computer/laptop at home. Many of my grade 4’s have had very little experience on a laptop so they learn a lot through blogging. It’s great to see their progress!

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