Writing has always been a challenge for our students.

"To blog or not to blog"

Writing has always been a challange for our students. Blogs and wikis make it easiefor us to movitate our students and engage them in writing and reading. If we can use these tools effectively, we can create a learning environment extending the schoolyards. Blogs and wikis are not only about writing, they are also about interaction and communication.

I've read Graham Stanley's article about blogging. He has explained everything about it in his article.

I like all Common Craft videos. They make everything easier to understand. You can watch "Blogs in Plain English"

There are so many educational benefits of using blogs. Blogs can help our students to create, communicate, collaborate and express themselves. Using blogs make learners independent of time and space. We can use blogs for assignments, keeping the parents in the loop, giving feedback to students. Our blogs can contain topic information, guidelines, updates, links and examples, events, tips, discussion, handouts, commenting on each other's work, question/answer board and motivational messages. Students can develop more confidence in writing. They can participate in online projects by sharing their ideas, resources and findings. Students can keep a blog as a diary. Blogging puts us in touch with other educators around the world and we can share our ideas and reflections, suggestions and experience with wider audience.

Here is the blog that teachers are using at my school to inform students for assignments.I have always appreciated Larry Ferlazzo's blog and his ever overgrowing list. I am sure everyone has a lot to benefit from his blog. Here, you can find the link of 1st grade students' and their teacher's blog. I loved it! And this blog belongs to a four year old kid. It's lovely and inspiring. Also, here comes another blog for 5th and 6th grades. This blog was a edublog award winner in 2006.

Blogs and wikis enable multiple users to communicate, create, share and reflect but they are in a way different from each other. In blogs, one person is in charge of it and communication, feedback and sharing is done by commenting whereas wikis let its users directly edit to the pages.

Wikis are collaborative websites that allow more than one users to edit, delete and change the content and share it with other people. The best example is the Wikipedia. It is a multilingual online encyclopedia, which has been written collaboratively by volunteer people. Almost all of the articles on wikipedia can be edited by anyone.

Wikis are a very simple technology and it is a good way to develop communicaton skills. Wikis allow users to take active role in their learning and it increases the interaction between the teachers and the students. We can easily integrate multimedia into wikis. We can embed videos, slideshows, quizzes, photos, polls and we can upload documents and files. We can use wikis:

  • To post links to assignments, exercises, events, notifications.

  • To mentor a staff project.

  • To brainstorm about a topic.

  • To add and share information with others.

  • To keep everything in one place.

  • To link resources, upload worksheets etc.

  • As an e-portfolio.

  • For collaborative storytelling.

  • To keep the parents in the loop.

  • To inform students on the assignments, deadlines, events etc.

Yo can watch "Wikis in Plain English".

I have been using my wiki as an eportfolio for the last three years. It was difficult when I first started editing but once you get used to linking, hypertexts, embedding, editing pictures, slideshows etc.; you become a tech savvy person who can deal with anything digital. Here is my wikispace: www.ozgekaraoglu.wikispaces.com

At school, we have a wiki that we use. We exchange our ideas, post links and comments and we keep everything in one place. Also, we have different project groups at school among English teachers. Each group has their own wikis. You can have a look at the wikis that 7th and 8th graders use.

Our students are already enthusiastic for writing on the web. I believe the most important thing about blogging is that students read each other's work and comment on them which you can't find in a traditional classroom environment. Teachers and students learn a lot from each other and it is a good way to listen to student's voices. Wikis and blogs are the best ways to become a better reader and they make easier for us to become an editor and a publisher. If you have any examples or any ideas how to use blogs or wikis in our classes,please leave your comments.

All the best,

Özge

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