The idea of having students use blogs in the classrooms is a powerful one. It empowers students with the ability to publish and share their opinions and thoughts easily with just the click of a few buttons. Very different from the situation back then when I was a student where, in order to publish anything on the Internet, one had to have good programing knowledge and had to work pages and pages of scripts just to end with something decent. Not only does it gives student a way to express easily but also inherently, makes them realize and 'see' that their opinions are as important as that of anybody else and that, since their opinions will reflect the opinions of many other people, there will always be an audience for their ideas.
According to Richardson, in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, one of the most important strengths of blogs is the way you are able to link to other sources of information and in a way connect ideas together. Links to other internet pages, other blogs, pictures, videos, just to name a few examples, can easily be integrated within each post in a blog. Thus, in any project or assignment, students can easily interconnect their opinions and the information they are being publishing with that of other students in their classroom, with that of students in other classrooms, and even with students from other schools.
This year, for my 7th and 8th grade history and science classes, my students will be creating and using their own blogs to report each week two current events they hear in the news or read in the newspaper or Internet, one of them related to world events and the second to science. They will also be including, along with a summary of the article, the link to the full article where they got the information from, their reaction to the news or events and how they think these affect us and/or impact us locally. Students will then be commenting on each other posts and also contributing their reactions to those news posted by others. The activity will help our students become well informed in current events and able to express their thoughts and emotions on those events happening around us. Every end of the month, the students will create an additional post writing about the two world events and two science events that impacted them the most and in this post, they will be (1) briefly summarizing the event, (2) linking to the full text of the student that originally posted the event, and (3) stating their own reaction and the reason(s) why the article made an impact on them.
Marco Cesar Saenz
Using Web Tools in the Classroom