Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Only with a weblog

One of the things I love about using weblogs with my students is the flexibility it can build into the curriculum.

Case in point: In the last couple of years, the Philadelphia Inquirer has been having financial difficulties like many other big city dailies (To read more about the Inky’s most recent problems click here). Ten months ago Amanda Bennett, the editor-in-chief of the paper, wrote about plans she had to serve readers better given the prevalence of 24-hour news. Since then I’ve had each new section of journalism students read this article and respond to it.
On Sunday morning, I was reading the paper and read Ms. Bennett’s last column as editor of the paper. She is being forced out by the new owners, but her column is a positive piece about how journalism and newspapers will survive changes in society, technology, and economics. I went to the Inquirer’s online site, and created a link to the article in a post on my class weblog. By 9:30 the next morning my students were reading and responding to the column through the discuss feature of the blog. Their comments were honest and well thought out.
After class was over, I e-mailed Ms. Bennett and told her about our weblog and by 11:45 AM she had read my students comments and responded to them.
The next day when I told my students that Ms. Bennett had responded they actually seemed impressed (at least some of them), and they quickly logged on to see what she had to say.


Mike Hetherington said...

Hi Tom. Being a teacher with a class/student blog and an ex-Philly guy (Southwest Philly) I connected with your post on several levels. Just finished reading your link to the Inquirer story. It's a shame, but with the advent of the internet, blogs, gaming and now YouTube, I guess the decline in paper media is inevidible. Keep going with the class blog. Like you said, it can facilitate powerful student response on very short notice. My classroom blog is just starting up for this year and as much as I plan ahead, I know some of our best work will be quick responses to short lead time topics that will kindle the students interest and ignite a firestorm of passionate response. As you've indicated in past posts, classroom blogs can be frustrating, but I agree they are also a unique and powerful classroom tool. I like the way you set up your class site. Your students are writing some great copy. You can tell them they will be modeling for some developiing 6th grade writers up here in Connecticut.

Monica M said...

Interactive and dynamic learning like this is powerful. As parents, learning can be flexible and lead anywhere! As educators expected to teach a certain subject, this type of learning will still be beneficial and will need to stay around the context of the subject being taught. Do you think some of the students weren't impressed because they have seen this before--that maybe this concept of interacting with this individual is passe? Monica

tatiad said...

Hi, Tom Reading over your blog for the past few months has motivated me to start having my English I/II classes using blogs. This has been a powerful and challenging undertaking. Most students have become very motivated to share, collaborate, and reflect online and on their own time. Other students are struggling with the concept that other students are reading their work and making comments. This has opened a new world for my class. Thanks for sharing and being an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

hi mcjournalism....

let's get ready to query.

Anonymous said...

Hey t-mac. We missed you today but still had a MACKIN GOOD TIME. Hope you made nice gas