Saturday, December 19, 2009

Help Needed with a Blog/Forum Assignment

Yesterday the other 8th grade physical science teacher approached me about doing some blogging with our students after the start of the new year.  Specifically her idea is to have a weekly assignment for students that would review science content from previous years as a way to prepare for the upcoming PSSA tests.  Biting my tongue so I don't launch into a diatribe about the ridiculousness of a standardized test on a non-standardized curriculum, I do believe this could be a great idea.  The question is how to pull it off considering it would be done with a total of 120 students.

I was reading the Tom Barrett's blog "Do You Have a Class or School Blog?" and found some great ideas but nothing to really aid me in figuring out how to pull this off.  I love the idea, presented in one of the comments, about having students taking turns blogging about the days class and then using their blog to start class the next day.  This might work really well with my environmental or biology classes in the high school, as well as with my 8th graders.  However, if we are going to do this with a PSSA focus, and such a large number of students blogging on a weekly basis, I think we need to come up with a different approach.

I am wondering if we would be better off doing this in Moodle using one of the various forum styles or setting up a blog page like Edublogs or Blogger.  I love the flexibility that Moodle offers for an assignment like this, but it lacks the more public appeal that the blogging sites have.  Maybe with the  specific questions students will be addressing, and the number of students that will be responding, the public aspect is not needed or even appropriate.  I would love for people to leave me some feedback in a comment to help me think through this assignment.  How would you approach this and what platform would you use to pull it off?  Maybe someone with a large following could retweet this to help increase the collaboration.  I am pretty new to this world and my PLN is fairly small right now... :)


  1. My immediate thought is that you need a Ning style platform instead of blogging. That way you could have groups of students working simultaneously on different topics. With 120 students, they will all need to be busy to keep their attention. Maybe even a wiki?

    You could even create your own community at

    I'll throw this out on Twitter (not sure who will read it, but I'll try for you!) - I'm @MrsDi

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with the above post about a Ning. You might also look into using as a form of website creation and blogging.

    With so many students, grouping by class might be an option as well. If it is for discussion purposes only, you might also use

    I also keep a blog about Web 2.0 and Technology Integration if you want to check it out.

  3. Hi Jason,
    Depends what you mean by blogging.

    If the teacher is setting an assignment that is just a question for the student to answer, then this could be done using one class blog. The teacher writes the questionas part of a post and each student comments on that post by giving their answer. The comments could be moderated so no student could copy another students work and you give a date/time limit as to when the student must answer the question.

    But if the answer to the question set by the teacher needs a long explanation you would need to use a blog per student - this takes a while to set up, but using RSS feeds you can get student answers quickly.

    As your students are older than mine, then maybe a ning would be more teacher and student friendly.

    My class blog -

  4. MrsDi - looks good, I am just wondering what the advantage of this platform would be over using moodle. The interface looks a bit more interesting than moodle's but the capabilities look about the same. Since we already have our students set up in moodle, and it is being used by the district, I am not sure I see too many immediate benefits to setting up a community there. Any thoughts? I am going to look at nings more closely as well. One of my concerns for 21st century tech is that we don't confuse our students by using too many different platforms to do the same thing. I think it is important to use a variety of sources that compliment and integrate well with each other when possible. I also think this strategy is a good way to bring other teachers on board... Thanks for your input! Greatly appreciated!