Blogging in the Classroom: Mathematics
My First Thoughts
When I first found out about using blogs in the classroom immediately I thought "what a great way to get the students involved outside the classroom." There are so many ways that a teacher can engage their students using the internet and with blogs, everything just seems easier. For instance, if a student has a question about the homework or an assignment they can simply go onto the blog and post their question. Here, not only can the teacher answer the question, but other students can add their input. The best part about this is the fact that sometimes a student has the same question but is too embarrassed to ask. Here they have the ability to see that they are not alone. You could even add a sense of anonymity to a blog. Maybe your students don't want everyone to know that they aren't understanding an assignment. A teacher has the ability to have each student create their own username that only the teacher would know about. I know when I was a student this would have been very helpful. There were quite a few times where I had questions about assignments and was too afraid to ask in class or even email the teacher. Not only is a blog great for questions, but it is also great for posting assignments. This is a great way to evaluate your students and see how well they are understanding the information. Students have the ability to start dialogue with one another and bounce ideas back and forth without knowing that you are actually testing them. It is proven that students do better when they are unaware that they are being tested.
What About Math?
Now this all sounds great, right? That's exactly what I thought in the beginning. But then I started to think about how I would use this tool in a math classroom. This is where I started questioning a blog's effectiveness. Would it really be helpful with math? How would I get students engaged outside of the classroom when they generally aren't engaged in the classroom when it comes to math? What if a student does not have access to a computer? Wouldn't a lot of kids just use the excuse of "my internet was down last night" to get out of doing an assignment? All these questions got me thinking hard about how I would overcome these obstacles. I mean it's not that easy to type math problems into a computer without a special program. After brainstorming for a little while I came up with what I thought to be a few good ideas.
I first thought back to when I was a young student in the math classroom. I remembered a time where my teachers forced us to not only solve the problem mathematically, but to write out, step by step, how we solved the problem. This is where I realized that I could have students do the same online. They would be able to do the problem on a piece of notebook paper and on the blog, write out how they solved the problem. Here students would be able to see how other students solved the problems and find their mistakes. If a student becomes stuck on the problem, they would be able to see what to do next. Students could also ask other students why they did something. This could help them understand how to work through the problem, rather than just copying another students work.
Next I thought back to when I took Geometry in high school. Because I was in the honors class we did a lot of proofs. I don't really understand why they didn't teach this method to the college prep classes but, as a teacher, I believe that they were helpful in understanding how to solve the problem. Instead of just giving students a theorem to memorize, with proofs, students are able to understand the theorem. With a blog, a teacher could easily put a theorem online and have the students prove it, step by step. The best part about proofs is that there are more than just one way to prove a theorem. Each student would be able to post how they would prove the theorem. Again, students would be able to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.
Another possible way to use a blog would be to post small lessons. You could post extra information that you might have forgotten to mention in class, you could post pictures of worked out problems, you could even add sound to some blogs or use a vlog. It could also be useful when you have to miss class and they have a substitute. Instead of the sub trying to teach your lesson, you can post your lesson online and they can work on it in class on computers if they are available. You could use this same method for absent students. The only thing about using this method is that it seems like it would be very time consuming. It is something I would have to try in my classroom and work out the kinks that way.
As I continue my education I hope you be able to come up with many more ways to use a blog in the classroom because i do believe that they are a very helpful tool. Not only do they help the students learn but they also help the teacher evaluate each student's performance. Even parents would be able to have a more active role in their child's learning. All in all, it would be a positive experience. I hope to one day use a blog in my classroom, or at least something similar to one. Who knows, by the time I'm a teacher and have my own classroom, their might be some new technology that we'll have to figure out how to incorporate it into our lessons.
If you have any additional ideas I would appreciate the help!