Recently I watched Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk, “Connected, but alone?” and it forced me to reflect on my teaching and the type of environment that I provide students in my classroom. She discusses how people today are always plugged in, meaning they are constantly checking their phone, texting, and even shopping during board meetings. I thought to myself, “Man that sounds like my students!”
I teach at Platt High School in Meriden, where we are 1:1 in terms of students to devices. We have adopted the blended learning environment, where teachers utilize modern technology into their instructional pedagogy. These devices are to be used for educational purposes only, and not for personal use. In my class students know that the expectation is to be professional at all times, and that using your device while your manager (teacher) or coworker (classmate) is talking is unprofessional in the work (class) environment. This aligns with the district policy of devices being used only for educational purposes.
Last week, in the second week of school, I observed how students were interacting with each other. I noticed students who were engaged in what we were doing, and others who were somewhat engaged; attempting their work but using their device for personal use at the same time. Her talk really struck me in that students today seem as though they are alone, even when they are with other people.
All week students were creating their blogs in Weebly, to provide an environment where students will interact with each other not only in class, but also outside of it as well to reflect on what they are learning together. Every student has a voice in my class through their blog, and they are asked to comment on the work of others to show the class community that this is a shared learning experience. I want students in my class to know that they are never alone, and that their blog will be their companion to communicate their ideas and viewpoints with their new personal learning network.
In my classes, I have set up a Google Sheet that has every student’s blog address by class period. Students will be assigned to comment on a classmate’s blog post each week, and eventually they will have the task of commenting on someone’s post from an entirely different class. I am using these posts as reflections to what my students are learning; and to the degree of how much they are learning. These blog posts serve as an indicator of comprehension of class topics and how well they are grasping the content of the course.
After reading their blog posts, I will be able to determine how well I am teaching the material and tinker with the way I am teaching it. If students are blogging about how they did not grasp a certain topic, I can now go back and alter how I am teaching that particular topic. I am using the blogs as a way for students to express their learning freely with no judgment. I will also be using student posts as means to differentiate future instruction.
I am excited to read my students’ posts from last week, and see what they think about blogging in my class. I look forward to interacting with them outside of the traditional classroom and hope they find their voice in expressing themselves through their blog.