Response to Carla´s and Graham´s papers
First, their suggestion of having a mystery guest is always amusing to students. I remember that as a mystery guest Carla had Dennis Oliver from Arizona in one of her courses a couple of years back and it was a complete hit. Students were eager to ask questions and find out more about him and they all established a very tight and friendly relationship learning a lot from one another and being in contact with "real" people outside their classroom. I have not been a mystery guest but have written comments to almost all students from some Webhead classes such as Jane Petring, Nina Liakos, Jose Antonio, Erika and Susana Canelo, among others. It takes me a lot of time but I enjoy the exchanges, the fact that they get to meet a person from another country who might think similarly to them or simply who is interested in READING their posts and responding to their replies. It gives authenticity to their learning.
Second, I agree with Graham about correcting students´ work before they publish their posts or as data to be analyzed in class with students. In my particular case, I see blogging as an opportunity to let students express themselves freely so I would not correct anything they write in their personal blogs, unless the mistake interferes with meaning. In a student-teacher conference I would check with each student their posts and would take advantage of this time spent with them to revise and correct some.
Finally, using blogs in an educational setting takes a lot of time and dedication. To get the ball rolling, teachers have to read every post and leave comments for each student as fast as possible. Participants should also write comments on each others blogs but the teacher should model this task. Timing is a key element since immediate reinforcement makes students feel taken into consideration and can help establish a special bond between students and teacher. Comments should motivate students and should relate directly to what they wrote in the post to make them see their writing had an effect on readers and the message was understood.
An authentic activity that could be carried out through blogging is simply to have a sort of input (text to read, video, slideshow or picture on a specific topic, questions on a topic) and then have students react to it in a personal way relating it to their own experience. Here is an example In this particular one, it was a class blog to introduce students to blogging before they opened their own blogs but posts here were used for stirring up writing anyway.
Cheers, Berta ;-)
I' m coming back again and again to your blogs - there's always something to learn from you. I've just started my first blog two weeks ago (EVO09 is my first one) and still have to learn how to organize everything so that it looks neat (hopefully I'm getting there).
I've visited several of your blogs and they are all interesting, informative and very creative. The same for your wikis. I will probably be back again.
All the best,