Monday, December 1, 2008

921-Session 7-Research Supporting Edublog Usage

This session is research-based, and a little heavy on the statistics, so take what you can from the information, save the citations, and use them in the future if you need to substantiate and legitimize edublogging in the classroom. Along those lines keep an eye on the syllabus and the next Deliverable. The due date will be here before you know it.

But before we do that you may be interested in checking out this screencast on how to turn your blog postings into audio for differentiated instruction. (Click on it twice):

This session will be spent on gaining background knowledge on the research out there suppporting edublogs in the classroom. It is ready to be downloaded. While you are waiting, check out just a few of your peers' blogs.

  • Jennifer created a team blog where she and a few other school librarians will co-author the postings. This is a great example of how to foster collaboration with your peers, and an additional bonus is that it reduces the workload.

  • Kim added some great 'suggested readings' in the margin, as well as a cool widget and survey feature.

  • Donna has added some video and a 'visitor counter.'

  • Diane has tons of kids commenting.

  • Joanna is using her blog to spread the word and teach other teachers.

  • Andrea's adding screencasts and picture slideshows.

  • Leilani is having fun with her Kindergarten class and has added a weather pixie.

  • And last, but not least, Stephanie is experimenting with giving her entire class the option to be authors, so that they can write their own posts.

Also, check out, some of these links to past participants' postings and blogs.

Additionally, one recent posting that I really like is from:
this is from just one of the blogs that I subscribe to. It addresses the "Rationalization for Educational Blogging." It is very well written and a great place to start when trying to substantiate edublog usage in the classroom.

Also check out Christian's blog. I suggested he take a look at and he took the ball and ran with it. (His March '07 postings) What great examples of presenting student work for an external audience. Fantastic!

And lastly, you'll find a number of links in the left hand margin that will bring you to screencasts for a few of Blogger's tools and resources. Check them out and don't forget to experiment with adding gadgets.

Good luck and have fun!


This Summer's participant comments may be found here, and older past participant comments and insights may be accessed here.

Backup copy of this week's session:

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by davefontaine1


J Wilson said...

Session #7 Comments
The CARET study was particularly interesting. However, one thing about the study is that it is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I commend them for donating time and money to this cause. However, the skeptic in me can only wonder: “Is this a case for self-promotion also?” If the results indicate that increased technology (the caveat is when they are used effectively) raises test scores, isn’t that good for Microsoft’s business?

That aside, the study answered the question: How can technology influence student academic performance? Six answers were given:
1. Technology improves student performance when the application directly supports the curriculum objectives being assessed.
2. Technology improves performance when the application provides opportunities for student collaboration.
3. Technology improves performance when the application adjusts for student ability and prior experience, and provides feedback to the student and teacher about student performance or progress with the application.
4. Technology improves performance when the application is integrated into the typical instructional day.
5. Technology improves performance when the application provides opportunities for students to design and implement projects that extend the curriculum content being assessed by a particular standardized test.
6. Technology improves performance when used in environments where teachers, the school community, and school and district administrators support the use of technology.
The reoccurring theme is that with increased technology, educators really were the ones who made the difference. Technology is effective when it directly supports and is integrated into the learning. It is not more technology for technology sake. So it is when the district, administrators and teachers make a concerted effort to embed technology into the classrooms that it works. In my school district sometimes we get the funding to purchase technology, but then fall short on administrative support and very short on professional development. We have teachers who see the merits but do not have the time to figure out, on their own, when, where and how to use the available technology. The price of the actual equipment is really only part of the costs.

WOW! The Rationale for Educational Blogging posting on was great! It really summarized the need for teachers and students to use blogs. The list of reasons was very conclusive. My favorite line from Don Leu was:

“In fact, the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself.”

This encompasses writing, reading, citing, linking and evaluating web media.
Again, emphasis is placed on the teacher because, as Anne Davis says:
“Students need instruction on how to become efficient navigators in these digital spaces where they will be obtaining a majority of their information.”

pstevens said...

URI Session 7 Comments: Blogging
Pam Stevens
There was a wealth of information loaded in this session! Linda Wells’ comments about the great success her students have had blogging and improving their writing skills were worth sharing with my teachers. In particular, I found the following passages from her article motivating: “…We can no longer teach as we learned. We must combine the best of the old with the best of the new and plunge forward to meet the increasing demands of an ever-changing technological environment. It is our duty to prepare our students to meet the demands that will be placed on them in the college and work environments…
“Struggling readers are much more motivated to read if they know they will be writing and publishing an article on the Web. There is such a pride in ownership. ‘I wrote that,’ they will say. In the past, although I did my absolute best to motivate struggling readers and writers, I never quite accomplished what I have been able to accomplish by using blogs in my classroom.”

The TV research data was a little overwhelming at the end of a very long day. I cannot imagine teaching a class without video resources, from our extensive library collection to the never-ending resources at Discovery Education Streaming. Although we do not have Youtube available in our school (yet), we are working on accessing and downloading files to use with our students.

The link in the PPT to Mr. Brune's 2008-2009 5th grade class in Mamaroneck, NY, mentioned in The Educational Use of Blogs (aka Edublogs) by Jan Ray offered a great respite from the scholarly research and allowed me to read student writing. (The link was broken, but I Googled the teacher and found the blog at The examples that I read were short but invigorating to read.

There was so much to digest that I am considering a move from to manage my web resources to diigo because this service allows the user to highlight the important information in a web page. When you search and return to that website, you will see the highlighting you had made when you originally tagged it. Does anyone have any experience with and a preference between diigo and delicious?

T Weinberg said...

Session 7? (Edublogs) comments:
Wow- quite a lot of reading this week! Here are some comments about the articles I found to be most helpful: Reasons To Use Blogs In Education because I liked Donald Leu’s definition of the new literacies, in particular that “their most important characteristic is that they regularly change,” so, as Jane also highlighted “the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself.” I think it is important for teachers to remember this and not get too heavily invested in any one type of technology, but to teach students generalizable skills about using technology. He also had an excellent list of reasons to use blogging in the classroom.

I was very skeptical about Television Goes to School, particularly since the source was PBS. I don’t believe that viewing TV or a video is an active process, unless students are given questions to consider while they are watching. We rarely use TV in school, although we do use United Streaming with increasing frequency as teachers discover the validity of the statement that people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they see and hear. It is discouraging that the best we can hope for is 50% retention of information!

I enjoyed What Can My Library Do With A Wiki?, and intend to refer back to the best library practices wiki referred to in that article. I like the idea of having library patrons annotate the catalog, but it would be a challenge with my middle school students. It would be fun to get a group of library regulars to start adding their own comments to the library catalog- we actually have a new online system that allows the addition of student reviews if I enable the feature, so this might be a way of having them contribute to the catalog.

Way to read the fine print, Jane, in the CARET article (Effects Of Using Instructional Technology In Elementary And Secondary Schools)! I would have missed the sponsor if you hadn’t pointed it out. Thank you for the summary – other points that interested me were that “simply giving students greater access to computers and Internet resources often results in gains in writing skill” but teachers needed PD to more effectively teach with instructional technology. Obviously, “Student familiarity with and knowledge of computers influences effectiveness of technology-based instruction”- so the more exposure students have to computers, the less skilled the teacher has to be? However- the study also noted that for students to acquire higher order thinking skills, simulation programs should be combined with additional hands-on activities and/or further instruction- so exposure to computer simulations alone does not appear to be sufficient for the development of more advanced thinking skills. Our online textbooks allow students to access many simulations and activities related to the material, but it is important to remember that assigning those activities doesn’t replace actual teaching of the material.

Welcome to the Blogosphere: The Educational Use of Blogs had a few ideas for using blogs in classrooms- we’ve seen most before, this reading might have been a good introduction earlier on in the course. Thank you, Pam, for providing the link for the 5th grade class blog- I also wanted to take a look- one interesting thing I noticed was that the student blogs contained a link indicating that the students had completed an online quiz on internet safety ( It was not very challenging, but it would be a good starting point and would ensures that all students have at least read the safety requirements before posting on the internet. The article also included a link for kids rules for internet safety ( which looked great for elementary school, although I would want to edit it for middle school.

And, finally, Blog On: Building Communication and Collaboration Among Staff and Students contained some creative ideas for implementing blogs in the classroom to motivate student writing and as an opportunity for collaboration.