Thursday, March 24, 2005

EDTEC 700: Blogging in the Classroom

EDTEC 700: Blogging in the Classroom
I hope this is the right way to post my idea for a classroom lesson...I guess I'll know shortly. I have only read a few pages of one of the articles so far, so maybe upon further reading I'll get some clarification and guidance about exactly how to structure my proposed project effectively for sixth grade middle school students. (I figure the six hour flight back to the mainland from Maui will provide the perfect opportunity to do so). In any case, the real struggle I went through in trying to figure out how to incorporate blogs into a project was actually finding a way to include them that would truly take advantage of their unique properties (globally accessible, instantaneously available). I came up with numerous projects that incorporated the use of blogs, but in nearly every case there did not seem to be any real reason to use a blog instead of any other medium, including old fashioned pencil and paper. Finally, after much revising, the idea of using a blog to track student progress on an experiment arose. When I added to this concept the component of recreating an existing scientific experiment (one of my first ideas as a middle school science teacher) there seemed to be some justification for using blogs rather than pencil and paper. So my idea is this:

Each student will sign up for their own blog on They will be responsible for posting an entry of at least three sentences every day to their blog describing their progression throughout the project (including the proposal process).

Each student will submit a proposal for approval that outlines:
1. What scientific field their experiment is based in.
2. What their experiment will attempt to prove or disprove.
3. Who originally performed their experiment.
4. What the original outcome of the experiment was.
5. How they will reproduce the experiment.
6. How they will convey their final findings.
7. How long their experiment will take.
8. What supplies they will require for the experiment.

Upon proposal approval, each student will be allowed to undertake their experiment process. Because different experiments will require different lengths of time to complete, the deadline for each student will be determined by the student themselves (and graded according to how well they have allocated and managed their work time).

Upon experiment conclusion, the students will be expected to create a final write-up and reflection that details their findings and hypothesizes on errors, improvements, and areas for possible expansion for the experiment in the future.

The unique properties of blogs is thus taken advantage of by allowing the outside world to see exactly what steps each student has taken in their experiment recreation (not to mention the students themselves having access to this information) which enables the audience to then judge the validity of the recreation almost immediately after each step has been taken (rather than after the entire experiment has been concluded). Hopefully some interaction with the original experimenter could take place at some point in the project so that their input could be included in the final product, although that will depend greatly on the actual experiment each student decides to recreate. -joe

First Entry

In the name of robots competing against one another, I had to miss my first Edtec 700 course, so I'm really starting out a day (or five) later than my colleagues, and I just hope the effort is appreciated. I am, after all, writing this while in Maui on my Spring Break. The opportunity cost for my doing this now is reaching more and more staggering levels as each minute passes. Thus, this initial entry will be brief, serving mostly to acquaint yours truly with the methods of posting a blog on, and inform all of the existence of my own, previously created blog for my classroom which can be found by visiting, clicking on the high tech middle button, then clicking on the "digital portfolio" button, and scrolling down through teh drop down menu entitled, "HTM staff" until finding my name (Joseph Hartman). I've found the use of a blog professionally to be invaluable as a teacher. I try to make new entries every other day, but I think I'm averaging something closer to twice per week. Despite this, the use of my classroom blog has done so much in terms of keeping parents and students up to date with what is happening not only with respect to schoolwork and projects, but with my own life, so that personal meetings or concerns can be efficiently addressed at time of mutual convenience. Often, parent concerns that have come to my attention have been responded to in my blog. this not only gives an answer to the specific parent who raised the concern, but also provides it for any other parents who might have a similar concern or question. The feedback I've gotten from the use of a classroom blog has been incredibly positive, and I look forward to seeing what I can do with an exclusively personal one, as well as ones for my students for use in projects and schoolwork. -joe