Blogging at Vermont Fest

Getting on Board with Blogging Presentation for VermontFest 2005


Personal Blogging History

I don't consider myself a blog expert, but a blog experimenter. I've always had a pioneering spirit when it comes to exploring new tech tools, so I started playing with blogs with students in 2001.

Blogging as a Communication Tool
I was starting a new job as a Teacher Leader for Vermont Institutes. This would mean leaving the classroom for a few years, however there was a small group of students whom I had already approved independent studies for in advanced tech classes. I figured the new rookie teacher replacing me had plenty of challenges ahead, so I agreed to coach them using online tools.
Thus was born my my first Blogging Experiment with students.
No specific instructional design was behind the blogging experiment. It was mostly a functional tool. Necessity is the mother of invention. Here is my site and links to the students sites.
Remember that this was pre September 11 (the world felt like a safer place). You'll notice several practices that I would not consider 'safe' blogging today. Here is a student's reflection about indepenent learning using blogging (from the early years).

Other ways I've used blogs since include:

Bloggin as Project Management Tool for a Class Project
Cyberfair Collaboration

In this example, a group of students were working on a collaborative department wide project. They were in different classes and did not see each other face to face on a daily basis. Here they all shared the same username and password and distinguished their entries by including their names as part of the post. They posted notes as a project management strategy. Click on the Cyberfair Collaboration beginning entry, then hit Previous 5 link at the bottom of each page to view the sequence. You will note that blogs are in reverse chronological order, which means you must ready them backwards to get a sequence (unless the blogger uses a few tricks to change the presentation) Feel free to explore how this group of students used their blog to manage their project.

Blogging as a Grant Project Documentation

As you know, many grants awarded to pilots require that you document your process, so that others can learn from your experience. We experimented with using a blog for this purpose for our TSLC grant project. This worked great early in the project, but we discovered that some people were uncomfortable with some of the blog entries that described some of the challenges we experienced. We deleted those entries, but left the TSLC blog up for occasional spotty entries. A password protected blog would have been more appropriate.

Blogging as a Community Builder

Blogs as Community Building News Sites for St. Albans City School.
In my new job at St. Albans City School, I discovered that the Building Community was a huge part of the school mission. Blogs are a great tool to support this goal. There has been in increase in interest, and new departments are getting on board.

Blogging as a Collaborative PresentationTool

An online graduate class I'm enrolled in at UVM, was given a group assignment. Our group experimented with this new blog tool to create a group presentation for our Inquiry Based Learning Class. As facilitator for the project, I organized the Blog, and other group members added information from their role using the comments feature. I chose this new blog tool because it had some new features (i.e. CATEGORIES) that made for interesting organization and presentation of the material. Caution: this tool is still in beta stage.

Blogging as a Personal Journal

Teens are using blogs to this way at an increasing rate. Some of their most popular places to blog are LiveJournal and MySpace. (Ethan, thanks for the PEW link)

Just for the fun of it I experimentedwith a personal blog entry a year ago. (note that I never had time to go back and add to it, but it was fun to re-read this when I was preparing for this presentation).

Blogging in Vermont Classrooms

A tech-savvy friend of mine has set up a blog on her own server using GreyMatter as a Classroom Management Tool. (Thanks for sharing it, Jen)

Recently I've coached some teachers at NCUHS in the design and implementation of blog projects. Helen Poulin, the co-presenter in this presentation, is a brave pioneer, and has led her department in the use of blogs as part of our TSLC grant project. She started a year ago with Photos and Text in Blogs. This year she is experimenting with Audio and Video Blogging.

Helen's inspiration has encouraged her colleagues to jump on board. Check out the Student Products. In Year 2, Helen is working with audio and video blogging with some of the returning students. As of this posting, video is not ready for prime time yet, but check out Kennon's poetry in graphic and audio format.

Colleague Bob Lareau approaches it from a different angle with French Students. He introduced TravelLog's Site to visiting French Exchange students from France and gave them training, tools, time, to blog about their visit. Their post were not only of interest to their own families across the ocean, but also to their host families. After their visits, Mr. Lareau constructed 10 instructional activities for his French students using the recently created blogs of their guest as content. Mr. Lareau documented his original project using Publisher's web creation tools. The

Although no specific instructional activity was desgined around it, some NC students heading to Germany decided to give blogging a try and kept a Travel-Log site during their Exchange visit.

Mr. Lareau recruited Ms. Young in the use of blogs by students studying English as a Second Language practice their English skills while creating sense of community. The project participants are exploring inviting students from other schools to participate. In some rural schools, these students have few peers from their culture. A joint blogging project may be a way to connect with other American students from their home culture.