Blogs and blogging have been around for years now. Most of your upper primary students will be up to speed on what a blog is, and where to find them online. They will understand why people write blogs, and they will be experienced in reading this particular writing genre through the medium of their computer screen.
Blogging is really just another tool for communicating with others. A writer creates a blog (or web log) online in much the same way as a diary writer puts their thoughts, feelings and daily events down into a diary or journal. The crucial piece of information for your students to understand when you are teaching with blogs in the classroom, is that unlike a personal diary a blog is available for anyone to read (depending on where and how it is posted).
Teaching with blogs means you need to understand how and where a blog will be published by your students – is it going onto a limited network of computers with a theoretically limited audience, or is it going onto a general website where it can be accessed by anyone who cares to use their research skills to find it?
As Part of Media Literacy
Teaching with blogs is one part of the wider media literacy curriculum area. Media literacy means teaching your students about the wider world of media based communication — TV, radio, iPods, online material, magazines and print newspapers etc. There are many forms of media and so students need to gain an understnading of the media literacy skills required to manage these media forms effectively.
Into the future they are likely to find that various forms of media will continue to integrate and will require increasingly high levels of media literacy in order to manage well in the adult world. Skills such as general research skills, online research skills and face to face communication based research skills will be important tools for young people as they move into the higher education and adult worlds.
Students need some solid online research skills to be able to find, read and comprehend appropriate blogs on a website. Often large sporting organisations can be a good starting point, as often athletes will write a weekly blog recording their training, achievements and major life events. Some celebrities write blogs, although these need to be viewed with caution as some may not be suited to younger readers. Environmental or science based groups may also have blogs, as may adventurers as they are completing a trip or journey.
Teaching with blogs of this sort also means being able to integrate geography, history and science-based learning with media literacy and research skills. If you have any tips for successfully using blogs to teach then please post a comment.