Scoop-It

I’ve recently created a Scoop-It page for resources to do with creating a blog in the classroom.

Titled ‘Blogging in the Classroom’, you can find it at http://www.scoop.it/t/blogging-in-the-classroom-by-lucy-whelan

Happy blogging!

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I’ve made a blog…what next?

Creating a blog is as easy as one, two, click; yet it is important to understand that the purpose of a blog is far more than simply logging events within the classroom. Blogs are as much about inspiring independent learners as they are about engaging students in new literacies and digital media. Students no longer need to be constricted to traditional methods of demonstrating their understanding and learning, because blogging is just as relevant to the curriculum as pen and paper.

In her article on student blogging at Belmore South, Kim Pericles (2008, p. 5) argues that blogging is adaptable to any KLA, and connects student learning to our 21st Century World. She demonstrates through her activities that students are engaged with their learning, and through this engagement their learning extends beyond the classroom. One such activity involves three male students investigating results of English, European and Australian football games, taking the data they collect to configure and post leadership tables, information and answer questions via their own blog (2008, p. 4).

By engaging in blogging, students are not using their blog, but are encouraged to use a number of different digital medias to engage with texts and express their understanding. Another group of students at Belmore South are involved in constructing a Bubbleshare slideshow to add to their blog, as well as recording a video performance of the chosen text (2008, p. 4). This is an example of an activity that requires students to engage with a number of different digital texts, expanding both students understanding and capabilities with digital media, as well as fostering a rich database of resources they can use to enhance their blogs.  

Blogging in the classroom also opens up the opportunity for students to connect with another classrooms around the world, communicating and engaging with learning in different contexts, and sharing resources and information. An example of this in Pericles’ classroom is the connection the class has made with a class of students in Scotland. Scottish students sent instructions for a particular Scottish dance, which students at Belmore South followed and videoed. Students now need to upload this video to their own blog,which will be critiqued by the Scottish students. Receiving and sharing resources first hand is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage with different cultures and mindsets around the world, as well as being able to share about their own cultures and beliefs. 

All of these activities demonstrate that blogging is more than logging personal ideas and thoughts; it is a tool that provides a purpose for the learning that takes place in the classroom (2008, p. 6). It is important that activities constructed around blogs reflect this purpose. Blogs can enhance explicit quality criteria, high expectations and student engagement and direction in the classroom. When used well, blogs will teach students to construct meaning and find ways “to share their learning with new audiences” (2008, p. 5). 

Reference:

Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6

It looks green, so it must be green…right?

Larger companies use a mirriad of techniques in this day and age, to convince the consuming populace that they are in touch with their green thumb. Yet how much of what they say is carrot, and how much is…compost?

In an age where children are increasingly connected to digital texts produced by media outlets, it is crucial that they develop the skills to critically analyse the messages they see and hear. Happy babies, bright colours, environmentally friendly confetti and sunshine might lead us to believe that companies are deeply committed to preserving our environment, but none of these things have any connection to preservation! This is known as ‘branding’, or ‘greenwashing’ – leading consumers to believe one thing, whilst the practices of a company show something entirely different. By exploring the ‘sins of greenwashing’, the clip recreates their own advertisement, using satire as a means of explaining the structure of the advertisement, so that students see the true meaning and intention behind the choices of branding.

This clip also serves as an indicator to educators about the importance of being thoughtful in our selection of media texts we use in the classroom. We can be so easily captivated by the ‘confetti’ of well created texts, that we might fail to notice their lack of educational value. Digital media is such an important resource in our classroom, especially since students are increasingly connected to a digital world; however the texts we use will only be effective if the message they bring is not shrouded in visual duplicity. Sometimes it’s more sustainable to just skip the confetti.

 

 

 

The age of new literacies

I’d like to think I can describe myself as literate. I’m a regular reader of books, newspaper articles, not to mention magazines (fashion is reading, right?). I watch the news, I interact with friends online. Yet in an age where ‘literacy’ is defined by the new, constantly evolving, and no longer bound inside set ideas – is it actually possible to be ‘literate’?

Houtman (2013, p. 3) writes that to become literate is to take part in a cognitive process, an accumulation of skills that can be tested; simply put, to be able to read and write. Such is the dominate paradigm of pedagogical thinking. Yet the creation and cultivation of new technologies has shifted these ideas and changed the way we perceive what these skills (should) look like. ‘New literacies’ is a concept that has emerged with the evolution of technology, as texts have evolved into the multimodal. The flow of ideas and information has transcended traditional print media, in an age where nation-state borders no longer constrict this flow, and the globalisation phenomenon creates a ‘global village’. Lankshear and Knobel (2012, p. 45) suggest that in order to understand the concept of ‘new literacies’, these literacies need to be viewed within a historical context which spans both into the future and back into the past. A meeting of changing technologies and changing values.

New literacies are subject to ever shifting paradigms of technologies and values, and thus its definition is subject to change. Houtman refers to it as “deictic” – changing in meaning from day to day (2013, p. 7). Being literate today may not be the same tomorrow, as newer technologies appear. But it is also important to see these new technologies as a consequence of changing social needs and practices; something that Lankshear and Knobel (2012, p. 58-59) refer to as the ‘new ethos’. Technology also emerges as a means to meeting constantly evolving needs of society; the need for faster, more efficient and effective ways to send our ideas/thoughts/images out into the internet stratosphere; to connect with people who share, or challenge, our views and knowledge. Contemporary literacies now constitute themselves around the idea of ‘social learning’; digital spaces that attract cultures of ‘learners’ with common interests and ideas, as well as an interest in sharing knowledge and resources. By tapping into these kinds of learning spaces, participants may find that their views and understanding are being constantly shaped, challenged, and altered by the steady flow of knowledge and ideas. It’s easy to feel overpowered by so much information.

So we return to our original question – in the face of consistent change, is it possible to identify yourself as ‘literate’? Arguably, attempting to maintain a grasp on every new piece of communicative technology is futile, and quite frankly, impossible. Instead, perhaps we should define our level of ‘literacy’ not from the quantity of learning spaces we engage in, but the quality of the spaces we connect and contribute to.

 

References:

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/, accessed March 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from http://everydayliteracies.net/files/RemixTeknokulturaEnglish.pdf, accessed March 2014