Student blogs replace worksheets

Blogs provide a great way to extend the classroom beyond your 45 minute class period.  They can be used in a variety of ways to spark discussion and student research.  Chris Ludwig, a high school science teacher in Colorado, wrote this blog post to show how he used blogs this year to fundamentally change the way he assigned homework.

One of the major changes that I made this year was to switch to using individual student blogs as the centerpiece of student assessment (the other major change was to implement standards-based grading). I started using student blogs for a number of reasons including:

  1. I was tired of grading worksheets with the same copied answers on them.
  2. I realized that these worksheets weren’t always helpful in learning content, and in fact, much of the time they got in the way of learning.
  3. Student in my classes have access to a MacBook cart whenever they are in my classroom and we have fantastically dependable wireless internet connectivity for these laptops (yay tech support!).
  4. Blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress are free.
  5. I’m increasingly wary of multiple choice anything as real assessment and wanted students to write more.
  6. I wanted students to have a permanent, online record of their achievement throughout the year, not some pile of papers shoved in a binder (or trash can).
  7. I wanted students to have an audience for their work that would include each other, their families, the community, and the world.

Ludwig continues,

So how did we use the blogs? They became the go-to location to post assignments for me to read and grade. For a week or two, though, I operated a lot like I did last year, posting assignments on Edmodo and using its great assignment features to have students turn things in online, as well as posting them to their blogs. I realized that this was a duplication of effort and soon instead of sending out “assignments” in Edmodo, I just sent files and links as “notes.” This meant that these resources no longer came with a due date and that I was not using Edmodo to see who turned in which assignments.

Read the full post here.

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9 Responses to Student blogs replace worksheets

  1. joomla kitty says:

    For a week or two, though, I operated a lot like I did last year, posting assignments on Edmodo and using its great assignment features to have students turn things in online, as well as posting them to their blogs.

  2. Shellee Zillner says:

    I think that you have tapped into an incredible resource for students. Living in such a technology-rich environment, worksheets do not offer students the opportunity to think for themselves. I, like you, am extremely wary of measuring student success with multiple choice assessments, as we are so often forced to use. Using a blog is an incredible way for students to build upon each other’s ideas and enhance the learning. You are very fortunate that your students have access to the technology and such great tech support.

  3. Janet Huggins says:

    I have recently been shown how to create blog link on my school webpage. I have been trying to use this tool to help assess student knowledge of the different concepts that I teach. Since I am an elementary teacher who teaches all subjects, I am doing several different blog questions each week. I look forward to the day when I am able to be more efficient with this tool. Thanks for sharing your idea!

  4. Trisha Hoyt says:

    I think blogs are a creative way to assess students. There are so many directions you can take blogs and they allow teachers to incorporate writing in all subjects. Students could read and post a reflection to a current event article that pertains to the subject and write a reflection of what they learned. Blogs could be used as a reflection for students. For example, they could post what they liked best or least or easiest or hardest about a unit. They could also post helpful hints and tricks they used to learn concepts. Teachers could also post a debate question and have students post their opinions on the question or topic and respond to other classmates. Teacher could even use blogs as a way to communicate to parents and let them know what is happening in the classroom and/or upcoming events and units. Blogs have unlimited opportunities in and outside the classroom and a creative way to engage students.

  5. Stephanie Pampena says:

    I think this is an excellent idea. As teachers, we are always trying to get students to communicate their thoughts in written form. Having students blog would be great practice for the students. You are correct about the worksheets, most of them time students copy answers from one and other. Also, how does completing a worksheet show if a student really understands concepts being taught. Having them complete a blog would give teachers a much better gauge on whether their students fully understand the concepts being taught.

  6. Jamie Rylands says:

    I think that using blogs is an amazing tool and resource for students, teachers, and parents alike. I think that too often teachers are hung up on their old ways of teaching using worksheets and textbooks. Students are becoming more and more tech savvy with all the resources they have in reach. With the new common core standards being implemented a higher level of thinking is expected of our students. In just having students complete worksheet after worksheet with one word answers or multiple choice responses it makes it nearly impossible for us as teachers to assess this higher level of thinking. With having students create blogs to post their assignment answers it allows them to explain their thinking more in depth. I also like the idea that this is an online database where teachers can comment on student’s responses, and these responses will be there forever. Students can access their blogs at any time without the worry of losing their paper assignment. This also opens the door for more parent involvement. Parents can become more involved in their child’s homework, they can see when they are posting their assignments, and if they are on the right track. Using blogs within the classroom to replace standard worksheet assignments is a great idea with so many benefits!

  7. Krista Tiglio says:

    I really like the way that Chris Ludwig has structured student blogging for his assignments. It is a great way for students to have that record of their achievement throughout the year. When students are blogging about topics they understand and share with others, they have the opportunity to help peers that may require some extra guidance and explanations. I remember a specific mathematics class in high school in which our teacher put us in groups to explain to one another how to solve various problems because hearing our classmates explain solutions in their own words was a great way to help students that were struggling. If students have access to the blogs of their peers, they can interact with them digitally and receive the same benefits, even when they’re away from school.
    I also appreciate that students aren’t just competing worksheets with multiple choice questions. Students are writing their own thoughts. It really gives students the opportunity to think about what they’re learning and make connections to their own lives; to make their learning personal. Students have more freedom to demonstrate their understanding when completing assignments through blogging and I think its a great opportunity for them to show success in a personalized way.

  8. Chris B says:

    I switched to KidBlog for a safe, easy way to use blogging in my class. It uses WordPress, so it’s easy for students to master. And you can set it up so it’s password protected, so random people won’t be commenting on the blogs. I often assign things on my own kidblog, and even have students answering questions in the comments.

  9. Rebecca Bowser says:

    I think it is very interesting how Chris Ludwig incorporated blogging into his classroom to assign homework. When reading his reasons for doing so, I can agree with many of them. When completing a worksheet, it is very easy for students to copy answers from their peers. Also, multiple-choice assessments do not always provide a clear picture of student understanding. Based on those two reasons alone, I think that blogging is a great way to encourage students to think independently while still providing opportunities to share ideas with peers, and also provide educators with a clearer picture of each student’s level of understanding.
    I think there are many advantages of using a classroom blog. First, I believe that blogging assignments would encourage students to think beyond the recall level and move toward higher-level thinking by explaining their thoughts and ideas and evaluating their learning. Also, by reading the postings of their peers, students may gain a better understanding of a concept if presented in a different way than what they had originally thought. Finally, incorporating blogging into classroom assignments may motivate students to be active learners and help them develop technology skills necessary for their future.
    I think that a blog would be a very useful tool in the mathematics and science classrooms. Instead of solving problems on a worksheet, students could write a blog post explaining the mathematical steps necessary to solve a problem. After completing a science experiment, students could use a classroom blog to not only report their results, but explain why those results occurred and the processes that took place during the experiment. Students could provide feedback to each other on these topics, and teachers would have detailed information with which to assess student learning and understanding.

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