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EDTC 625

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The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012

The Impact of Weblogs in a Secondary History Classroom on Achievement and the Common Core Curriculum Standards: A Literature Review

Submitted by: Anna Newton EDTC 625 March 31, 2012

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The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012

Abstract Blogging began in the mid 1990s; however, it has recently been gaining popularity in the world of education. Blogging allows students to interact with experts, classmates, the teacher, and the world. Blogging also allows students to improve their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills because blogging is a reflective process. This review focuses on how Weblogs can be used to improve reading and writing skills in the secondary history classroom and meet the new Common Core Curriculum Standards that have been adopted in several states, including Maryland. This review will focus on the use of blogs in the secondary history classroom, the advantages of using blogs, and the disadvantages of using blogs in the secondary history classroom. It will also analyze possible solutions to the disadvantages of using blogs in the secondary history classroom in an effort to increase their effectiveness in improving reading and writing and critical thinking skills and meet the new Common Core Curriculum Standards.

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The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012 Introduction The art of teaching is constantly changing and adapting along with the society it aims to educate. Technology is a large aspect of our current society. A large percentage of our population has high-speed internet at home and our current students are very familiar with technology. While technology changes constantly at a blinding speed, the education field is trying to keep up with technological changes. The education field tends to be slower when adopting new technology and practices. This is due to various factors, such as lack of funding, lack of training for teachers, lack of support by the administration, and curriculum standards that must be met on high-stakes state-mandated standardized tests. Many teachers get bogged down in trying to prepare students for these standardized tests and many unfortunately teach to the test and push rigor and development of skills off to the side. In the state of Maryland, every high school student must pass three HSA (High School Assessment) tests as one of the requirements to gain a high school diploma. The three tests are in English II, Algebra, and Biology. The LSN (Local/State/National Government) HSA test was eliminated during the previous school year. In June 2010 the Maryland State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The standards for English/Language Arts also include literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. These Common Core Standards seek to address the development of certain skills that high school graduates will need in college and the workplace, such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills (Maryland State Department of Education, 2010). Teachers have the hard task of preparing students to meet these new Common Core Standards and some teachers also need to prepare students for state mandated standardized tests as well, while meeting the unique learning needs of the technology savvy Net Generation. The 3|Page

The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012 Net Generation expects to use more technology in the classroom and tends to multitask using multiple modes of technology all at once. They move at fast pace and can become easily bored or disengage in more traditional classrooms. Teaching the Net Generation must take into consideration the technological skills and prior knowledge that they have, and employs it to meet the Net Generations needs. One of these needs is technology and easy access to learning. Many people in the education field have pointed to adopting various social media technologies to address the Net Generations educational needs for accessible learning. One of the tools that has been suggested and is currently being used by many educators at all levels is the Weblog or blog. A Weblog is an easily created, easily updateable Web site that allows an author (or authors) to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection (Richardson, 2010, p. 9). Blogs have been around since the mid-1990s, yet many teachers today are not familiar or may have just recently started using blogs in their classroom. Proponents of blogs argue that blogs can increase student motivation, writing skills, engagement, and learning in all subjects. They also argue that blogs can extend learning outside the classroom and give students more control over their learning by creating a more collaborative learning environment. This literature review will examine the uses of blogging in the secondary history classroom and will discuss the impact of blogging on student achievement. In addition, this paper will look at the issues that prevent teachers from adopting blogging and some ways these issues have been resolved. Uses for Weblogs in the Secondary History Classroom Blogs are being used as class portals, online filing cabinets for student work, eportfolios, collaborative space, knowledge management, and even school Web sites (Richardson, 2010, p. 20). While none of the uses mentioned by Richardson are exclusive to 4|Page

The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012 history classrooms, they are great examples of how blogs can be effectively used in the secondary history classroom. The class portal is a way for teachers to communicate information to parents and students in their class and is a great course management tool. For example, if a student is absent, the teacher can post the objectives, activities done in class, and the homework that all have electronic files that the student can download at home. This will help students keep up with their classes. It can also be a great way for parents to review the syllabus or to stay up to date on what their son or daughter is doing in class. Blogs can also function as an online filing cabinet for both students and the teacher. Richardson argues that a classroom could theoretically go paperless when using a blog. Students can post their work and gain instant feedback from their teacher and peers. The students can also reflect back on previous assignments and postings. Teachers can also use this as an online filing cabinet that can help improve their teaching. For example, teachers can easily look up an archived posting to see what materials and what was taught that day and reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson, thus improving upon it for future years. Blogs can be used as a collaborative work space where students can work together online in a way that fits their schedule. Many students are involved in afterschool activities and have jobs that prevent them from meeting in person on a group assignment. While the previously mentioned uses for blogs could be adapted for any subject matter, they are extremely useful in the history classroom because they contribute to a well run classroom. It is common knowledge that a well run classroom contributes to student learning because there is little to no confusion about assignments and expectations for the course. Another use of a blog for the secondary history classroom is the ability to interact with experts and others across the globe. No one person can be an expert in every subject area of history; there is just too much to know. Now with the blog there is an easier way for students and 5|Page

The Impact of Blogging in the Secondary History Classroom EDTC 625 Spring 2012 teachers to access experts in specific fields, according to Langhorst (2007). Langhorst gave an example in his article about an assignment on the Oregon Trail. In the past he held a debate after viewing the PBS documentary on the Donner Party where one group documents evidence in the film that proves that Hastings was responsible for the fate of the wagon train, while the other documents evidence that proves he was not responsible. Now with his class blog he had students create a two minute video that presented their evidence and recorded the debate. He then had the authors and researchers for the documentary listen to the student debate. The experts gave detailed commentary on the debate and gave more information that was not in the documentary. Langhorsts students gained the ability to work with experts in the field and had a rewarding experience because the high quality of the debate was acknowledged by the experts. Besides interacting with experts collaboratively in a blog, students can also work with other classes and students from around the globe on a project. This can broaden students minds and open them up to differing viewpoints and experiences despite the distance. Finally, blogs can be used in a secondary history classroom as a place for reflective and analytical writing to take place. According to Brenda Dyck (2012), blogs is where students could debrief write their thoughts after our daily classroom discussions, and they would be a jumping-off point for future classroom interactions.I would post questions, as well as primary and secondary resources, to encourage students to explore their questions and conundrums. Dyck had her students complete a telecollaborative project on homelessness, but this could be used daily, weekly or any other schedule with students to help them achieve in class. This allows the students to prepare for class discussions, continue class discussions, or work together to clear up concepts and ideas from class. This can also be a great formative assessment for