Throughout my coursework so far in the IT&DML program, we have talked extensively about carving out our digital identity. If it is a necessity for educators, then why can’t we make it a necessity for students? In Dan Pink’s video, “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” he talks about the factors that motivate people to be better. He explains that people are driven by three factors:
- Autonomy- the desire to be self directed
- Mastery – the urge to get better at stuff
- Purpose – makes coming to work better; inspiring
I believe the same can be said of the skills and strategies included in online collaborative inquiry. The best strategy for students to practice these skills is through blogging online. By blogging in class it allows students to share their voice and express how they feel about certain topics or readings; as a result creating a digital identity. This is a useful skill to develop, as students will feel more comfortable speaking and sharing with others. It can also improve the quality of work, knowing that they have an audience that is looking at their work.
In order for students to become more adept at creating work online, they need to be exposed to reading and writing online. In “The New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension: New Opportunities and Challenges for Students with Learning Difficulties” by Jill Castek, Lisa Zawilinski, J. Greg McVerry, W. Ian O’Byrne, and Donald J. Leu, they go on to say that reading online is different from reading print. I agree with this theory as more and more districts are going with the blended learning model, incorporating more technology into their curriculum than ever before. Students in today’s digital age should only know how to read print, but also how to read online. They explained this notion through five practices that are required when reading on the Internet:
- Reading to construct useful questions
- Reading to locate information (keyword search strategies)
- Reading to evaluate information critically (credibility of sources)
- Reading to synthesize information (more information available in several formats)
- Reading and writing to communicate information (texting, blogs, wikis, etc)
Judy Arzt, in her work, “ONLINE COLLABORATIVE INQUIRY: Classroom Blogging Ventures and Multiple Literacies,” said, “…Students should not be mere consumers of technology. They should be composing and creating effective communications with the tools to develop advanced literacy skills.” I believe what she is saying here is that teachers need to provide students with opportunities not only where they are reading online, but also creating and thinking critically online.
After reading these sources I now have a better understanding of how to incorporate blogging and scaffold it into my own classroom. This year I look to take the first few weeks of class and teach students how to search for credible sources, using keywords rather than simply typing in their question into a search engine. Before having students create their blog, I will have them write in a blue journal every week, requiring at least two entries on a weekly basis. One entry has to be about what they learned in class that week, and the other being about something they learned on their own outside of school (how to ride a bike, tie their shoe, etc.). Students will share their journal entries with a classmate, where their classmate will comment on the entry.
Once students have gotten the feel for expressing their opinions and commenting on others’ work, I will have them create their own blog, which will serve as their new blue journal. This way, rather than writing their two entries a week into a journal, they can now blog about what they learned and comment on others’ blog posts. This will create a collaborative, social learning community within the classroom where students can express their voice through writing, and learn to listen and respect others’ voices as well.