Though this posting on Notes from McTeach is from September, I just came across it today and I am in love with it! The title is "Learning to Blog Using Paper" and I think it is just utterly amazing. Karen McMillan (the author) taught 7th graders the essentials of blogging without the computer. Before allowing them to create public blogs, they practiced in the classroom using ::gasp:: paper and pencil! Karen got the idea from a conference introducing teachers to blogging, but decided to adapt the activity for her students. Here are (simplified versions of) the steps she followed:
Discuss blogging in general as a class. Go over rules together.
Students write about something they are passionate about- a rough draft on, yes, paper.
Students use cardstock to create their post- the written portion, the sidebars, the background, everything. Again, on paper (cardstock)
The class discusses commenting. Students use Post-Its to write comments and "attach" them to the blogs
Obviously, you should head over to her post to get the full steps, plus some amazing photos of the completed paper blogs and resources available online.
Why am I so crazy about this blog post?
Well, that's an easy one. I love blogs. I wish I had more time to read them. I wish I had more time to keep up with my personal one (no posts since September! gah). I think they are an amazing free tool for students to make use of too. I cannot say enough good things about blogs. It gives a student the opportunity to have an online presence. They may not be able to code HTML website, or afford one for that matter, but a blog is an easy way for them to interact with the greater world. With a blog, students can have more annonymity than social networking sites offer (not so easy for strangers/predators to track them down) while still having many freedoms. Students can work on them from practically anywhere- as long as they can get internet. I know so many places with free wifi- Starbucks, many Barnes and Noble locations, most public libraries. We still have the drawback that many schools block blogging websites. There is a lot of inappropriate materials on blogs, but I think schools need to reevaluate their usefulness.
Then there is the concern that many students face- they don't have computers or internet access, no iPad or netbook, no way to work on these projects outside of school. It is an issue that many teachers face when trying to incorporate technology into their classrooms of students with limited resources. The paper blogs could be an alternative entirely to these classes. Students are still learning the idea behind it, and can make use of those ideas later in life when they encounter them.
Back to the point of Karen's posting- introducing students to blogging. Many teachers would assume students at the 7th grade level have already encountered or have knowledge of blogs. It's a fair assumption with how technological children are these days. But they may not always understand the process and still have to be introduced to many aspects of blogs. I think this was a great way to introduce blogging and how it works to students. And oftentimes, teachers want students to do some sort of rough draft or map before they create computer projects- Word documents, PowerPoints, and now blogs.