If I were to create a blog to use in a middle school reading classroom I would want to utilize it to introduce and reflect on a new book that the students will read. For example, if I were to assign Hatchet by Gary Paulsen as the reading, we would begin by reading the back cover together and reflect on what we can infer from the short summary read. For their initial blog post I would ask them to hypothesize about what they think Brian will go through to survive the wilderness. I would provide questions for them to answer to get their juices flowing. I think a blog would benefit them because they could see each other’s posts and respond to one another in a discussion type format. Once we start the book I would continue to utilize the blog from start to finish by asking more questions for them to reflect on and post their responses for the class to see. This would provide everyone a chance to be heard and respond to each other which is something that is not always possible in the classroom. I think the biggest advantage of a blog like this is that some people find it easier to contribute to a discussion when they have time to think about what they will say. The pressures of being embarrassed to talk in front of other students are somewhat decreased when you use a medium like this. That’s an affordance of what a blog offers students.
Considering Bloom’s verbs, the desired level of thinking would be synthesis and evaluation. First, students are asked to hypothesize before reading the book. Then, throughout our time reading they will be asked to discuss events in the book, argue for or against decisions that Brian makes, evaluate whether or not they think his survival strategies are good (or could have improved), etc. These are higher level thinking strategies that are extremely beneficial to student’s academic growth and maturity.
This type of pedagogical stance would be interactive instruction because it relies heavily on discussion and sharing among students on the blog. The entire class would be required to contribute by posting their individual thoughts. I could also allow group work in class and allow one member of the group to post what the group discussed during class. This allows the students to have more time in class to actually discuss the topic and they are still able to share what their group thought about a topic with the class without taking time out of class.
While there are many advantages of using a blog as a teaching method there will always be the possibility of some of the students not having easy access to computers and the internet. Of course the amount of assignments that I choose to use the blog with as individual homework would depend on such a factor. I think this is where the group work becomes more important because if they were to work in groups in class and then contribute to the blog from home there’s more of a possibility that at least one student has access to a computer at home. This tool is worth using because it’s important for students to know how to use and understand different forms of media, such as a blog. It’s important for them to feel comfortable and confident using today’s technology. This type of instruction would be something new and different and I would do everything I could to make it fun for them. I would hope that using technology in such a way would be a motivating factor for them to want to pursue higher education. I wouldn’t want this to be too labor intensive outside of class. I would probably introduce the unit by have the class help me customize the blog and do initial posts as a large group so that they can see how to do it. I would also utilize computer lab time for students to make their individual blog posts to help those who don’t have such easy access to a computer.