Blogging as an Explicit Lesson

I read a post today by Jeff Utecht that helped explain a little bit of why my class performed as they did on this.

So often we read that our students are “digital natives” and they come into the classroom with a vast set of skills for navigating web2.0.  It took some digesting (and more reading) for me to come to the understanding that the kids may be surrounded by this technology but still require explicit instruction on how to utilize these tools in an academic setting.

As I write this, resounding in my head are posts I’ve read in the past few months as others have constructed their own knowledge on this idea.  So this is nothing new to most tech-savvy educators.

This all just seems so odd to me – at least 50% of my students have Facebooks or Bebos or MySpaces…so why did I have to spend an entire class period explicitly teaching them the nuts and bolts of commenting?

To answer that for myself, I spent some time yesterday and today prying into Bebo trying to find a sample of one of my student’s comments.  I found plenty of students who are not in special education programming, but none from my department.

I was not surprised to find the gist of most of the kids’ stuff was “hey, w u, nmh” or “wut’s goin on this weekend?” along with the disturbing “I hate u! Y do u think ur my friend?”   Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn’t really see anything deep worth posting here or using as an model for my class this week.

So these kids certainly know their way around what they are comfortable with: thin conversations with each other…small talk.  So even given a great topic to discuss and reflect and respond to, they are not going to suddenly transform into A+ commenters.

I appreciate Jeff lending me his thinking stick for a little bit today as I limp my way to a realization that these kids need some explicit instruction on how to blog and comment.

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One response to “Blogging as an Explicit Lesson

  1. You can borrow The Stick anytime. 🙂

    Great reflection on your students and where they are at. I agree they do not understand the use of these tools for academic reasons, but why should they? These tools are just what they do, what they use to communicate in a digital world.

    In the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell he talks about a process called ‘thin slicing.’ Where you read people by breaking them down into small parts and analyzing them quickly. I think that’s what you are talking about when you talk about their small talk. Is there language, their communication method a form of think slicing. A quick way to feel each other out without digging deep into who a person really is.

    I have to think more on this, but I feel a blog post coming on. Thanks for stretching my thinking.

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