This week’s reading by Davies and Merchant (2007) was titled Ch8: Looking From the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as a New Literacy. The researchers study their own experiences with blogging, which at first didn’t sound much like research to me, but it really worked for them. As they explain it is a type of “insider research” (Lakshear & Knobel, 2003). The reading goes on to discuss blogging as a new literacy and it’s three identified themes: Publishing the self, The nature and fabric of the text, and Social networks. While reading this chapter I was struck by how much blogging, and the internet has evolved over the years. Although much of what Davies and Merchant find still applies today, there seems to be even more to be discovered now.
I was really interested in Davies and Merchant’s discussion on the “depth” of text thanks to the use of hyperlinks, embedded media, and the whole wide range of modalities that the internet affords. They go on to explain that these varying layers provide different paths for a reader, and therefore allow for a text to be read in many ways. This idea really made me reflect on the readings I have done for this class. I feel like I have discovered so much by reading a peers blog, then clicking a hyperlink they have included, which leads me to another topic I want to research, and so on… It is this student-driven learning I wish we could have more of in schools, but this is easier said than done. There are curriculum demands, assessments, behaviors, and lack of motivation standing in the way at times. I have to believe though that it can be done with lots of hard work and some creativity.
After reading Davies and Merchant I was curious to learn more about blogging at the elementary level. The idea of multi modes of expression made me think of my students and the different ways they learn/express themselves. I found an article from edutopia.org titled Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students. This article helped to reinforce my developing understanding of the importance of social media, and new literacies in education. I have to admit before taking this class I had not thought much about introducing blogging, or other types of new literacies in the elementary classroom, but I’m really starting to see the value. Don’t get me wrong I use technology in the classroom, I show videos, I’ve worked with education applications, we use the SmartBoard, but I’m starting to see how much more I could be doing to create a “classroom with no walls,” as explained in the edutopia.org article. I’m now inspired to use blogs in my own classroom just as Kristin Ziemke’s first grade class does at KidBlogs.
I was also able to find some lesson plans related to blogging in the classroom. As I expected many were for middle and high school students but there was one lesson designed for grades 5-8, that could be adapted for younger students. Students could even begin creating digital stories from the perspective of their favorite character in a book, or a person they are studying in history. With the “depth” provided by the web and new literacies the possibilities are limitless.