Saturday, August 15, 2009

National ICT Sharing Presentation - Using Blogs to Enable Independent Learning

Presented by Susan Soh, Rodger Spelmer & Joyce Lim of Hwa Chong Institution (High School Section)

In the 30 min presentation, what I gathered...

  • This is the first year when Blogging is incorporated into the Sec 1 Lang-Arts programme (LAP) in a structured manner. It is compulsory for all and comes in the form of student-initiated Project (Part of their Project Work).
  • Blogging helps in facilitating Differentiated Instruction (DI), taken into consideration students' learning styles.
  • One important point: The role of teachers progresses from "Teachers" to "Facilitators" - this role is gradual and progressive to allow time for students' adaptation and eventually being able to take charge of the learning. The presenters shared about having Prompts to guide students on the writing (as scaffolds). In fact, students are told be teachers that those are prompts and are encouraged (on-going) to attempt the task without relying on the prompt. This transition is something that we often miss out during implementation - teachers would assign the task without providing scaffolds. Often, the switch from teacher to facilitator role is drastic and students are expected to be independent in no time.
  • A new idea: Electronic Bookshelf where students list down the books they read. How we could implement: Start a Class Library blog where students could share their reading in the form of Book Review. The dept could structure it thematically in a monthly basis or based on genre, etc. In no time, our Electronic Bookshelf will be so much richer! We could easily set a target of 1 book per fortnight and they would also pick up a book reviewed by their peers to read so that they could comment in their classmate's post (possibly offering a different perspective).
  • Role Modeling is another important aspect mentioned, where teachers' involvement (i.e. regular inputs) are necesary for the programme to take off. 3 stages (i) Write, Publish blog posts regularly (ii) Post comments regularly (iii) Blog prompts based on text discussed in LAP classes. Fully agree with this! If one asks the students to do it yet do not personally demonstrate the desired behaviour, then it's not convincing in the kind of habit one intends to cultivate! Moreover, it's important to respond to the students' inputs - at least they are aware that someone's reading and will make an effort to do it well! The prompts are really the scaffolding that keeps thing going on!
  • I also like the systematic approach (which we could probably consider!): (i) Prior introducing Blogging to students, carry out a survey to prep the students. It also gives the teachers an idea where the students are. They term it as "Pre-test" (which I think "Survey" sounds more appropriate). (ii) This is followed by getting students to write/discuss "Journaling vs Blogging" to look at the similarities and differences (hence setting the tone and expectation, I guess). (iii) The class then moved on to analyse newspaper articles of racist bloggers, etc before they move on to (iv) Socratic Seminar on Dangers of Blogging. (v) Drawing from discussions and exposures through these engagement, students then create the blog policy which is then signed by parents as well as students to emphasize the latter's responsibility in blogging. (vi) Eventually, students create their first blog.
  • This blogging activity is also noted as a major ACE activity (10CPs) which all students are expected to complete 20 blogs and provide 12 quality comments to their peers. Their blog must also comprise of multimedia elements (video & photo images). Of course, there's a rubric for teachers to grade the entire exercise!

Something I'm amazed over...

Some useful sites come across in the session:

Other related sites that I chanced upon...

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