Why do I assign homework by having students blog? And what in the world is a glog? If you've asked yourself these questions maybe this blog post will help. I remember just a few years ago how parents and teachers started to worry when our children were using MySpace to create a presence on the Internet. MySpace provided regular, non-techy, people a way to create a very stylized website where they could easily post pictures and keep friends and family updated with what they were up to. Parents and teachers had to monitor Internet use for our children and educate them because there were too many people posting inappropriate content to their MySpace. Since the point of creating a web presence with MySpace was to share it with the world it was very easy for our children to stumble upon this inappropriate material. Schools, driven by fear, tried sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to block MySpace. Parents did too. Things got better though because now students have Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and other safer ways to build their web presence, stay in touch with friends and family. Connecting with family and friends online is highly motivating to our students.
One thing we can see for sure is that social media is ubiquitous. Many people are staying connected through some online service, often through their smart phones, that businesses are making use of these new technologies. And it seems that those who are afraid of these changes are those who didn't grow up with them, those who are baby boomers, the digital dinosaurs; and even some of my generation, the generation X'ers who are digital immigrants. Our children, the net generation or millennials who are digital natives, don't fear it, quite the contrary they live it. Now I don't even begin to know how old a child should be when she or he gets the first cell phone, or the first online account but I do know that blocking access to those things isn't going to help them. My job as a teacher is to show my students appropriate ways to use the current technologies to learn, create and share. Darn, I'm showing them that what they use for recreation can also be used in school. Our job is to help children traverse their online experiences safely and using good common sense to protect themselves. That's what marks the 21st century.
The news media is radically changing as professional reporters aren't the only ones reporting news anymore. So many people are getting their news from other people who blog or tweet or post on Facebook before they tune in to the regular news. And they can do it anywhere! Television, radio and newspapers are no longer the only way for us to find out what is going on in the world. And where ever there is a cell phone, especially with a camera, news will spread even if those around would prefer to keep it secret or quiet. It's a new world.
That is why I hope that I am embracing this new world, this new way of learning, creating and sharing. Reading a newspaper, hearing a news radio show, or watching a TV news report used to be one way. You had to turn to your family, friends and coworkers to discuss what you were reading, listening to, or watching. Now people all over the world can share their thoughts and ideas with each other by leaving comments on blogs, retweeting on Twitter, or making comments on Facebook. I have been listening to what astronauts are doing daily on the International Space Station because I follow them on Twitter! I retweet what I find exciting with those who follow me so there are thousands of people on Earth who can keep track of what's happening up there daily and so easily! My students can do a Science lab, write about it on their blog, and get a comment from other students in New York, Canada or other parts of the world letting them know what they think about our lab!
I personally have learned so much from the incredible educators and administrators I follow on Twitter and gain so much from all the wonderful resources they share with me and all the other educators who are part of what we call our Professional Learning Network (PLN). Fancy phrase and acronym for groups of teachers all over the world sharing resources and ideas with each other. That's how I am learning and I know many of my students learn that way so I am making that part of my classroom routine.
So why blog about what you are learning in Science? Because if you write down on paper or in your notebook and turn in to me, the teacher, then I will read it and either grade it or give feedback or both. Me, just the teacher. If I have students read each other's work and evaluate each other's work then they get another's view and feedback. Nice. But if they blog what they are learning they can get each other's views and feedback, my views and feedback plus the possibility of views and feedback from students all over the world. It's not just about the final grade, it's about the learning.
Okay, you get it now, so what's a glog? Seeing as how so many of my students are visual learners and seeing as how so much of what people create now includes more right brain, artistic types of products I give my students the choice to just write their responses on paper, type it into their blog, or use glog to make a poster-like, media-rich post. Glogs give students the ability to answer my Science prompts and questions by creating an online poster full of pictures, songs, movies and text, which they can still post on their blogs! It's pretty awesome. Here's a response about density blog. Now here is another response to the density question but in glog form.
So in my Science classes students get assigned a few to several Science prompts or questions for homework each trimester to reflect on what they've learned in class, or share what they've learned in class. It allows me, and whoever else reads their work, to see if students are understanding the concepts we are studying in class. Students get the choice of how they want to submit their homework, I've told students they can even text me their responses if they wish! So encourage your children to do their Science homework and if they want, they can blog about anything else they w