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14 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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Artifact Four


Artifact four
is an independent study that I conducted.
I researched the use of a blog in a
seventh grade language arts classroom
. My goal was to see if students were more engaged due to
the use of the blog and if they valued the
instruction. The blog was a terrific way to incorporate
technology and scaffold a cross curricular research paper
.

The focus of the study was to
understand how teachers use blogs as pedagogical tools. Journal articles were located and
analyzed to ascertain

strengths, weaknesses, and various ways to implement blogs to support
student learning.

The students were each responsible for researching a speci
fic contagious
disease. Students were responsible for blogging four days of the week. Every day the students
were prompted to research a specific component of their paper. By the end of the week, students
were able to successfully
write a paragraph on one aspect of their disease. After five weeks, the
students had a completed research paper ready for revision. Th
e use of the blog was novel
because students were very engaged and would work after school hours on their projects. They
could work from home or the library.


The class

blog demonstrated the

cognitive apprenticeship

methodology.

My students
were encour
aged

to develop the
ir higher order thinking skills by investigating an issue.
Lessons
involved the phases of modeling, coaching, articulation, reflection and exploration.
It was
enlightening to see my students use technology to identify a problem and seek information to
solve it.
They viewed different aspects of the problem and thought independently.
The class blog
was my first attempt at using
a blog for instructional purp
oses and the outcome was incredible.

The following standards from the Common Core of State Standards will be met:

RL.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferenc
es drawn from the text.

RL.7.3

Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g.,
how setting shapes the characters or plot).

RL.7.5

Craft and Structure: Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., solil
oquy,
sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

RL.7.6

Craft and Structure: Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of
different characters or narrators in a text.

RL. 7.7

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contrast a story,
drama, or
poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques
unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

RL.7.9

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contr
ast a fictional portrayal of a time,
place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how
authors of fiction use or alter history.

RI.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support a
nalysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.7.2

Key Ideas and Details: Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their
development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the t
ext.

SL.7.2

Comprehension and Collaboration: Analyze the main ideas and supporting details
presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the
ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.



SL.7.6

Prese
ntation of Knowledge and Ideas: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks,
demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7
Language standards 1 and 3 on page 53 for specific expectations.)

L.7.2a

Conventions of Sta
ndard English: Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It
was a fascinating, enjoyable movie but not He wore an old [,] green shirt).

L.7.2b

Conventions of Standard English: Spell correctly.

W.7.2

Text Types and Purposes: Write informative/exp
lanatory texts to examine a topic and
convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of
relevant content.

W.7.9a

Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature
(e.g., “Compa
re and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical
account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter
history”).

The following standards from the International Study for Technology
in Education National
Educational Standards and Performance Indicators for teachers will also be met:

ISTE I.


Teachers demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and
concepts.

ISTE II.

Teachers plan and design effective learning environmen
ts and experiences
supported by technology.

ISTE III.

Teachers implement curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for
applying technology to maximize student learning.

ISTE IV.

Teachers apply technology to facilitate a variety of effective
assessment and
evaluation strategies.

ISTE V.

Teachers use technology to enhance their productivity and professional practice.

ISTE VI.

Teachers understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the
use of technology in PK
-
12 schools and
apply that understanding in practice.





Project Title: The Effects of Blogging on Academic Achievement among 7
th

grade Students in
Language Arts


Chapter 1


Introduction

Currently, teachers are being challenged to incorporate new technologies into their
classrooms that will strengthen classroom learning by capitalizing on students’ media literacies.
Blogs, a new and innovative technological tool, can be used in language ar
ts classrooms to
support student learning by capitalizing on students’ interests and familiarity with online
communication. Web logs, or blogs, are frequently updated web pages with a series of archived
posts, mostly in reverse chronological order. Most
blogs are primarily textual, but may contain
images, photos, media content, hypertext links to other Internet sites, and allow for audience
comment. Knowing that blogging is a potentially engaging and valued means of communication
among teens, it seems wor
thwhile to consider the value of using blogs in middle school language
arts instruction. This study explores the emerging blogging practices on one seventh grade
language arts class by exploring the issues of intent, use, and perceived value by scaffolding

learning, creating learning communities, and further developing writing skills. Data sources for
this study include one four week unit’s worth of blog content and students’ perceptions of
classroom blogging practices. Findings will indicate whether or not

(1) the teacher created
additional forms of participation as well as extending student exposure time with content; (2) the
blogs are used in a variety of ways that afford various benefits; (3) both teacher and students
perceived the greater investment to
be worthwhile; and (4) a comparison of three blog posts at
the start and finish of the unit. The findings are used to critically consider claims made in the
literature about the potential of blogging to effectively support classroom learning.


Language Ar
ts education standards (CCSS 2012) call for reading and writing
-
rich
curricula where technology is an essential component of the learning environment. Just as media
and technology are integrated in school and life in the twenty
-
first century, skills relate
d to media
use (both critical analysis and production of media) are integrated throughout the standards.
Today, many new, unique, and powerful technologies are available for teachers to use in support
of their students’ learning. Blogs seem to be promising

tools to support collaborative and
reflective learning. It is important to make all teachers aware of the potential, as well as
limitations, of blogging to support their pedagogical goals. The following standards from the
Common Core of State Standards w
ill be met:

RL.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.7.3

Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how particular elements of a story or dr
ama interact (e.g.,
how setting shapes the characters or plot).

RL.7.5

Craft and Structure: Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy,
sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

RL.7.6

Craft and Structure: Analyze how an author develops a
nd contrasts the points of view of
different characters or narrators in a text.

RL. 7.7

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contrast a story, drama, or
poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of technique
s
unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

RL.7.9

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time,
place, or character and a historical account of the same period a
s a means of understanding how
authors of fiction use or alter history.

RI.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.7.2

Key Ideas a
nd Details: Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their
development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

SL.7.2

Comprehension and Collaboration: Analyze the main ideas and supporting details
presented i
n diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the
ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.



SL.7.6

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks,
demonstrating command

of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7
Language standards 1 and 3 on page 53 for specific expectations.)

L.7.2a

Conventions of Standard English: Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It
was a fascinating, enjoyable mo
vie but not He wore an old [,] green shirt).

L.7.2b

Conventions of Standard English: Spell correctly.

W.7.2

Text Types and Purposes: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and
convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, o
rganization, and analysis of
relevant content.

W.7.9a

Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature
(e.g., “Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical
account of the s
ame period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter
history”).

The following standards from the International Study for Technology in Education National
Educational Standards and Performance Indicators for teachers will also be met:

ISTE I.


Teachers demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and
concepts.

ISTE II.

Teachers plan and design effective learning environments and experiences
supported by technology.

ISTE III.

Teachers implement curriculum plans that include

methods and strategies for
applying technology to maximize student learning.

ISTE IV.

Teachers apply technology to facilitate a variety of effective assessment and
evaluation strategies.

ISTE V.

Teachers use technology to enhance their productivity and pr
ofessional practice.

ISTE VI.

Teachers understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the
use of technology in PK
-
12 schools and apply that understanding in practice.


The purpose of this case study is to explore the intent, use and pe
rceived value of one
seventh grade middle school language arts classroom blog in order to provide concrete images of
how blogs have been and therefore can be used to capitalize on students’ comfort and interest in
new media communications technology to sup
port their classroom learning. Blogs have the
potential to support learning as they promote reflective thinking, nurture collaboration and
relationship
-
building, increase perceived accountability and, therefore, quality of student work,
encourage peer supp
ort for one another, increase opportunities for students to receive feedback,
extend learning outside classroom walls, and allow and encourage interactions with experts and
others outside of the classroom. These attributes of the learning affordances of cl
assroom blogs
will be explored in detail and critically considered at the close of this paper in light of the
findings of this study. It is important to consider the implementation issues and impact of
classroom blogging that are unique to the middle schoo
l learning context as most research has
occurred primarily in higher education. The purpose of this case study is to make a contribution
by exploring how one middle school language arts teacher effectively integrated classroom
blogging into the central, di
sciplinary work of the class. The research question focusing this
study is, “How does one middle school language arts teacher, Ms. Bouchard, capitalize on
blogging affordances to enhance classroom
-
based instruction?” To answer this question, I first
focus
on both intent and perceived value of these classroom blogging practices by reporting on
the results of a survey with the student bloggers. Second, I focus on the use by describing the
variety of activity structures designed and implemented to capitalize
on the affordances of
blogging and analyzing student writing at the start and end of the unit. Finally, I critically
examine the claims made in the literature by comparing them with findings of this study.

Methods


The focus of this study is to understand
how teachers use blogs as pedagogical tools.
Journal articles were located and analyzed to ascertain strengths, weaknesses, and various ways
to implement blogs to support student learning. I will also use the major search engine, Google,
to locate classroo
m blogs. The search terms used will include classroom blogs, school blogs,
teacher blogs, student blogs, education blogs, educational blogs, language arts blogs, language
arts classroom blogs, and English blogs. Some blogs that are specific to classroom b
logs will be
reviewed. These sites include weblogger.com, weblog
-
ed.com, schoolblogs.com, blogger.com,
sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite, notesfrommcteach.com, edublogawards.com, and
more. The blogs located will be selected for potential inclusion
based on the following criteria:
(1) created and maintained by teachers; (2) frequently updated (more than once a week); (3)
extensive student contribution and involvement (defined by the students’ voice being the
predominant voice); and (4) publicly avail
able to allow access to the different ways the blogs are
being used. A survey will be conducted to ascertain students perceived value on classroom use
of blogs. Three student writing samples from the blog will be compared at the start and finish of
the un
it. The qualitative data analysis will include searching the text for emergent themes and
ideas including 1) student perceived value, 2) classroom use, and 3) literature review
comparisons to class outcomes.


At the time of this study, during the 2012
-
201
3 school year, Ms. Bouchard has been a
seventh grade language arts teacher for seven years and will begin using blogs in one of her two
seventh grade language arts classes for one four week unit of study. She will explore the impact
of blogging on collabor
ative learning communities in content literacy classes. The blog will be
designed for a seventh grade language arts class. The unit will be taught to two groups of
students. There will be a control group and an experimental group who will be randomly
dete
rmined by students’ classroom assignments. The experimental group will be required to use
blogs regularly as part of class participation, while the control group will not. The teacher will
attempt to provide rich examples of diverse ways a teacher can emp
loy classroom blogging to
support student learning. She will attempt to include the following features: scribe posts,
reflection writing, editing, chat posts, sharing resources, and scaffolded assignments.


Potential follow up activities and projects would

include the continued use of blogs for
future units of study and creation of works cited pages. Blogging will serve to inform and inspire
students. They will increase future collaborative learning and nurture a community of learners,
create a student cent
ered learning environment, provide a place for reflection, and provide
enrichment for the class. Collaborative learning will challenge students to analyze each other’s
thinking, encourage them to ask questions and draw conclusions, and provide a place wher
e
students learn content from each other. Students will work together and have increased exposure
to course content.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

The internet has become a valuable tool which people have come to rely on. “As the
Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive and persistent influence in people’s lives, the
phenomenon of the blog stands out as a fine example of the way in which the Web en
ables
individual participation in the marketplace of ideas” (Glencoe, 2006). Teachers have been using
blogs in instructional situations for years now, and the internet has a plethora available for
viewing. One can access both postings and articles about b
logging in the classroom. Many blogs
were outdated and the literature review required more extensive research. There are many blogs
related to the educational experience, but I was interested specifically in situations in which the
blogging effort required

student participation, and where the process impacted the student’s
learning experience. Studies have shown, “Student response to the blog was overwhelmingly
positive, with students claiming that the blog made the subjects studied in the classroom come
al
ive for them and seem more relevant” (Duda, Garrett, 2008). It is my goal to begin blogging in
my own classroom to foster online learning communities and advance my classroom and
students technologically. Blogs seem to be the perfect way to engage them fur
ther in our
Language Arts class. The world has become quite reliant on technology and it is my goal to
facilitate and inspire student learning by designing and developing digital age learning
experiences and assessments. “Blogging is shown to have a signi
ficant impact on both student
and instructor preparation for class and to positively shape instructional time” (Walatka, 2012). I
aim to exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional
in a global and digital soci
ety.


With the advent of the new Common Core of State Standards, technology has found a
secure spot in education. As a teacher, I have embraced the use of the Smart Board in the
classroom, created web quests, and required students to utilize digital text
sets. Now it is time to
start scaffolding learning by incorporating a blog into my Language Arts classroom. Students
will work as an online learning community by researching one disgusting disease each. Each will
be responsible for properly citing text, r
esearching their own disease, editing and revising their
peer’s written work, following internet etiquette expectations, following the acceptable use
policies, and more. My goal is to share my understanding of local and global societal issues and
responsib
ilities in our evolving and digital culture and to exhibit legal and ethical behavior in all
professional practices. Incorporating blogs into my teaching pedagogy will help me to improve
my professional practice continuously, help me to model my own effort
s to be a lifelong learner,
and aid me in exhibiting leadership in my school and professional community by promoting and
demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. North Canaan Elementary School
does not have students who blog in class

yet. I will be introducing the concept to my class and
colleagues. “In their native, non
-
academic habitat, weblogs are a hyper
-

and inter
-
textual, and
many times engaging vehicle for communication. This fact has not escaped instructors who seek
to foster
dynamic types of interaction in their courses; indeed, it’s often this specific type of
communication that the instructor wishes to foster” (Lohnes, 2006). Blogs are one way to
encourage students to engage in course content.

The Disgusting Disease Unit has

already started with the reading of the novel
Fever 1793

by Laurie Halse Anderson and
The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allen Poe. One book
details the impact of Yellow Fever, while the other goes into depth about the Bubonic Plague.
This is a cross
-
c
urricular unit that each teacher in the seventh grade is responsible for a portion
of. In Science, students learn body parts and functions, types of diseases and how they are
spread, where these are commonly found in the world and how prevalent they are in

the world
today. “Engaging science learners as a community who collaboratively and creatively co
-
construct scientific understanding through inquiry requires teachers to adopt new tools as well as
a different mindset about the kind of classroom culture the
y need to nurture” (Luehmann, Frink,
2009). In Mathematics, students create graphs showing the numbers of people throughout time
who have contracted the disease. “Blogs, a new and innovative technological tool, can be used in
math and science classrooms to

support student learning by capitalizing on students’ interests
and familiarity with on
-
line communication” (MacBride, Luehmann). The Social Studies teacher
requires students to map outbreaks of the disease throughout the world. I, the Language Arts
teach
er, help students to research the diseases, cite their sources, and write an extensive paper on
the disease. “Blogs are also simple to apply and may serve as a valuable medium of
communication for students and teachers. Some of the advantages of using blog
s in online
teaching are that they can help enhance the writing skills of students. It also helps them to
synthesize current ideas or research” (Oomen
-
Early, Burke, 2008). The blog will help scaffold
the paper by requiring students to complete each section

chunk by chunk and culminating into a
whole research paper. Classrooms are full of multiple intelligences and various levels of learners.
Classrooms consist of students who are gifted and students who are in need of special
educational supports and interv
entions. “Blogs would allow teachers to differentiate their
teaching sufficiently to accommodate the learning needs of different students and to reinforce
classroom instruction. Podcasts of lectures can be downloaded by students” (Colombo, Colombo,
2007).
At times, students find writing difficult. The use of the blog will help them to edit their
own work and collaborate on ideas for their papers.

“Writing on blogs could enhance participants’ overall writing performance, promote
participants’ autonomous mon
itoring of their own writing, and promote positive attitudes
toward foreign
-
language writing. From its findings, the study concluded that writing
weblogs in an online environment could be beneficial in improving learners’ writing
skills, enhance learners’
motivation to write, and foster both learners’ monitoring
strategies and learner autonomy” (Sun, 2010).

Students will be able to publish their own work online and have it peer reviewed. All students
will have the ability to contribute to each others’ work
, even those who usually participate less in
class. “Blogging can give the “silent student” a voice by allowing them the opportunity to write
on topics of interest” (Sawmiller, 2010). Even the quieter students will have a vehicle to voice
their thoughts. M
y students began reading the novel during the first week of March. This is a
difficult time of year for teachers and students due to the mandated state assessment called the
Connecticut Mastery Test. The bulk of the work will take place after testing has f
inished. This
blog for this research paper will be the school’s first attempt at blogging in, and out, of the
classroom.

Blogs offer pedagogical advantages. “Blogs are easy to set up and use and have a wide
range of functions, which can open up entirely no
vel channels of communication between
people. This is probably why many educators believe that blogs have the potential to facilitate
teaching and learning” (Lin, Hsu, Hsu, 2013). For knowledge to be developed by students, they
need social interaction. Blo
gs allow collaboration, and permit students to discuss and debate
issues positively, facilitating the social construction of knowledge. Blogging allows students to
create a comprehensive commentary on a regular basis. Writing commentary and interacting
wit
h peers clarifies content and develops knowledge construction in students.

Student effort will increase due to personal ownership over thoughts and understanding.
Blogs document students’ thought processes on how ideas connect and evolve over time. They
al
so facilitate the organization of information into meaningful personal narratives. These give
students the flexibility of choosing, developing and forming their own writing style. Students
can select how information is presented with videos, pictures, and

images. Therefore, students
have ownership over their blog entries making it their intellectual property. This differentiates
blogging from other tools and enables students to develop a sense of responsibility over the
information they upload.

Blogs are r
elatively informal and this factor encourages engagement. This informality
allows students to comment on other’s posts, edit and revise posts, and create their posts at their
own time and pace. This gives students the chance to develop enough understanding

of a concept
before articulating it into text. “Start small. The first post was an introduction of themselves. It
was an easy topic and something they really liked to do. They then got to comment on each
others’ posts as well which started to build commun
ity” (Ripp, 2011). Students have the
opportunity to become engaged not only in their writing, but also in their peers’ writing.

Writing and communication skills are also enhanced through the use of blogs. The short
responses offer a type of freedom to stud
ents.

“Writing in classrooms seems to me to have two wildly different, conflicting purposes: a
limited, traditional and strict purpose
-

because exams, like many decent jobs, will be
about written skill; and a wider, idealistic one: the ultimate method of e
xchange of ideas
in depth. So, first, we should repeatedly use formal tests to acclimate students to exam
-
specific writing requirements


dull, precise, necessarily regular. And beyond that, we’d
let writing have free rein, encouraging students to be as am
bitious, open
-
ended and wide
-
ranging as possible. That would mean loosening up most classroom time outside of the
revise/test/peer
-
mark cycle to be about project work, self
-
directed learning, talk and
flexibility; and we’d make the recording of learning a
highly flexible process, for students
to write what, and when, they like” (Drennan, 2012).


Blogging can build a structure for reflective learning through sharing knowledge creation which
influences students to respond to thought provoking questions, react
ions to photos and images,
give opinions, and discuss and debate issues. “Blogging engages students in creating short bits of
writing, which Dubbels says they can then piece together and develop into larger pieces. ‘Blogs
are great for transitioning from p
aragraphs to essays’” (Sturgeon, 2008). The written blog
responses can be combined and act as a scaffold for longer written pieces.

There are many components that teachers need to consider when requiring students to use
blogs in education. Instructors nee
d to comment regularly to provide necessary feedback to
improve student posts. Students need easy access to the blog, internet links, and additional blogs
so they are encouraged to read the content. Educators should use class time, face to face, to
highlig
ht exemplar blog entries, discuss good and bad posts, and provide pointers and guidelines
to improve subsequent posts. Blogs should be used as a source for student feedback, allowing
them to guide the selection of discussion topics for the class, and to ob
serve how the students
apply and understand concepts. Student topics and examples can be used in the face to face
review of the blog and serve to engage students further. Students will reflect appropriately when
writing their blog posts if guidelines or g
rading criteria have been provided. Checkpoints should
be used to make sure students are progressively submitting blog entries at regular intervals
throughout the semester. Students must also use proper user identities and follow legal and
copyright laws.
Lastly, teachers need to lead by example and model exemplary blog entries.

There are many innovations in curriculum development involving technology and
blogging. Currently, technology trends show that people want things smaller, faster, cheaper,
mobile,
updated, converging, and ubiquitous. Education has shown an increased demand for
information and there is a proliferation of networked scholarly information. There is a trend
towards more online education and course management systems. “Websites allow you
to present
what you learn using media ranging from writing to photographs, art, videos, and audio files”
(Coleman,2013). Education is placing more emphasis on the importance of the curriculum and
training. There is also a push for improved usability of tec
hnologies and the tracking necessary to
show their impact on learning.

“In the future, we hope that including podcasting (audio streams), vodcasting (video
streams), and wikis (collaborative pages about specific concepts learned in class) would
be another

way to capitalize on the multiple learning styles represented in our classes
(and in our future teachers’ classrooms as well). These resources could be added and
shared on the blog. Students with less of a technological background could be encouraged
by t
he variety of responses demonstrated by their peers, again strengthening the
perception of the class as a community of practice and of blogs as potential medium for
assisting and strengthening the classroom community” (Hungerford
-
Kresser, 2011).


Teachers

will need to be provided with professional development opportunities to support new
audiences. Some new technologies to include in up to date blogs include RSS memberships,
links, other blogs, podcasts, vlogs, picture sharing, wallpostings, email, instant

messaging,
music
-
sharing, crowd sourcing, and voice overs. “RSS stands for either ‘Rich Site Summary,’ or
‘Really Simple Syndication’” (Parry,2006). The International Society for Technology in
Education, or ISTE, supports the use of various technologies i
n the classroom. ISTE requires,
“Teachers implement curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for applying
technology to maximize student learning” (ISTE, 2000). Innovative technology is becoming
more prevalent in our classrooms.

My objective is

to establish and support a culture of evidence by providing feedback on
student blogging in the seventh grade Language Arts classroom. My study will demonstrate an
improvement in learning. “Blogs, because their ease of use, and because of the context of n
ews
and editorial column writing, have become a highly effective way to help students to become
better writers. Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take
greater care with spelling, grammar and punctuation, when th
ey are writing to an authentic
audience over the internet” (Jackson,2012). The research and data I collect will aid me in honing
my teaching practices and establishing the use of blogging in the classroom. This will make me a
more versatile instructor. “We

suggest identifying a given number of main points, ideas, or
issues that were solely discussed on the blogs, and then having the instructor use these as part of
the class discussion” (Hungerford
-
Kresser, 2011). This independent study has encouraged me to
review and select appropriate models and strategies for e
-
learning. My goal is to introduce
blogging to help meet growing student expectations for classroom technology and learning. “Its
communication and information
-
sharing abilities also make it useful f
or group projects and as an
advertising and marketing tool for school events and activities” (Wilkinson, 2012). I would like
to present my content, applications and application development to my team of teachers as the
common core encourages in cross curri
cular units. As an educator, it is my duty to address
emerging ethical issues dealing with technology. I also strive to understand the evolving role of
academic technologists.

Educational technology intersects with the topic of research projects and disgus
ting
diseases in my curriculum. “These blogs could thus be created or organized around key topics
rather than by specific time periods, and the instructor could move on when the topic loses
momentum. This would also allow students to make connections acros
s topics and would be a
visual/verbal reminder of their membership in a CoP” (Hungerford
-
Kresser, 2011). My cross
-
curricular approach to teaching students how to research topics will greatly benefit from the use
of a blog. The blog will encourage students
to craft their research paper piece by piece. “For me,
one of my central pedagogical goals is always to teach students to critically engage media. As
such, I feel it is important to teach students how to become critical navigators in the digital
spaces whe
re a majority of their information will be taken in” (Parry, 2006). The scaffolded
project will prompt students to report their findings as they progress through the research writing
process. “Keep in mind that if blogging is presented as a peripheral acti
vity, with little or no
direct connection to your regular class instruction, it will be of limited effectiveness” (Walsh,
2009). Some of the focus points for the blog will include signs and symptoms, transmission and
prevention, treatment, and historical d
ata. The rubric for the project encompasses the
introductory elements, the necessary fundamentals related to the disease that was just mentioned,
methods and results, conclusive essentials, works cited and writing conventions. Students will
randomly be ass
igned the following disgusting diseases: Spanish Flu, Ebola, Small Pox, Bubonic
Plague, Tuberculosis, Vibrio Cholerae, Polio, Diptheria, Hantavirus, German Measles, HIV,
Malaria, Yellow Fever, Swine Flu, and SARS.


This study of the classroom use of the bl
og in seventh grade Language Arts will add to
research in student blogging by showing that the use of technology in the classroom further
engages students in course content. “Borrowing from the literature on adolescent literacy
practices, the notion of cir
culatory practices may give us one way to begin to conceptualize
course blogs in their own right. The idea of circulatory practices suggests that while in
-
and
-
out
of school is a useful dichotomy for theorizing about the specific contexts in which practices

take
place, in reality practices are imbedded within, but not confined to these contexts” (Lohnes,
2006). The use of the blog by students will show how chunking assignments aids all students in
written production. Blogging will aid in information differen
tiation so all students can meet
elevated goals for achievement. Research will show that the blog is an additional form of
participation which extends student exposure time to content. When blogs are used in a variety
of ways, they afford various benefits
. Students will perceive their efforts and investment to be
worthwhile. “Teachers who use blogs say that students put a lot more thought and effort into
their blog writing, knowing that parents and others may read their work on the Web” (Selingo,
2004). A
nalyzing student blogs by comparing posts from the beginning and end of the unit will
show students their progress and create a sense of ownership and pride. “As young as they are,
they need to cultivate their personal brand, and they can do this by postin
g about what they are
involved in at school, learning in their classrooms, or other co
-
curricular activities they enjoy”
(Barseghian, 2011). Exploring the use of blogging in the seventh grade Language Arts classroom
will encourage students to use technolog
y to communicate with their peers, teachers and the
public.

Chapter 3


Methodology



The research design chosen for this study is a qualitative design. Students will respond to
broad, general questions that will show their views of the use of a blog in c
lass. Data sources for
this study include one four week unit’s worth of blog content and students’ perceptions of
classroom blogging practices. Findings will indicate whether or not (1) the teacher created
additional forms of participation as well as exten
ding student exposure time with content; (2) the
blogs are used in a variety of ways that afford various benefits; (3) the students perceived the
greater investment to be worthwhile; and (4) a comparison of three blog posts at the start and
finish of the u
nit.

Knowing that blogging is a potentially engaging and valued means of communication
among teens, it seems worthwhile to consider the value of using blogs in middle school language
arts instruction. This study explores the emerging blogging practices on
one seventh grade
language arts class by exploring the issues of intent, use, and perceived value by scaffolding
learning, creating learning communities, and further developing writing skills. The purpose of
this case study is to explore the intent, use an
d perceived value of one seventh grade middle
school language arts classroom blog in order to provide concrete images of how blogs have been
and therefore can be used to capitalize on students’ comfort and interest in new media
communications technology to

support their classroom learning. Blogs have the potential to
support learning as they promote reflective thinking, nurture collaboration and relationship
-
building, increase perceived accountability and, therefore, quality of student work, encourage
peer
support for one another, increase opportunities for students to receive feedback, extend
learning outside classroom walls, and allow and encourage interactions with experts and others
outside of the classroom. These attributes of the learning affordances o
f classroom blogs will be
explored in detail and critically considered at the close of this paper in light of the findings of
this study. It is important to consider the implementation issues and impact of classroom
blogging that are unique to the middle s
chool learning context as most research has occurred
primarily in higher education. The purpose of this case study is to make a contribution by
exploring how one middle school language arts teacher effectively integrated classroom blogging
into the central
, disciplinary work of the class. The research question focusing this study is,
“How does one middle school language arts teacher, Ms. Bouchard, capitalize on blogging
affordances to enhance classroom
-
based instruction?” To answer this question, I first fo
cus on
both intent and perceived value of these classroom blogging practices by reporting on the results
of a survey with the student bloggers. Second, I focus on the use by describing the variety of
activity structures designed and implemented to capital
ize on the affordances of blogging and
analyzing student writing at the start and end of the unit. Finally, I critically examine the claims
made in the literature by comparing them with findings of this study.



At the time of this study, during the 2012
-
2013 school year, Ms. Bouchard has
been a seventh grade language arts teacher for seven years and will begin using blogs in one of
her two seventh grade language arts classes for one four week unit of study. She w
ill explore the
impact of blogging on collaborative learning communities in content literacy classes. The blog
will be designed for a seventh grade language arts class. The unit will be taught to two groups of
students. There will be a control group and a
n experimental group who will be randomly
determined by students’ classroom assignments. The experimental group will be required to use
blogs regularly as part of class participation, while the control group will not. The teacher will
attempt to provide r
ich examples of diverse ways a teacher can employ classroom blogging to
support student learning. She will attempt to include the following features: scribe posts,
reflection writing, editing, chat posts, sharing resources, and scaffolded assignments.


Lan
guage Arts education standards (CCSS 2012) call for reading and writing
-
rich
curricula where technology is an essential component of the learning environment. Just as media
and technology are integrated in school and life in the twenty
-
first century, skill
s related to media
use (both critical analysis and production of media) are integrated throughout the standards.
Today, many new, unique, and powerful technologies are available for teachers to use in support
of their students’ learning. Blogs seem to be p
romising tools to support collaborative and
reflective learning. It is important to make all teachers aware of the potential, as well as
limitations, of blogging to support their pedagogical goals. The following standards from the
Common Core of State Sta
ndards will be met:

RL.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.7.3

Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how particular elements of a sto
ry or drama interact (e.g.,
how setting shapes the characters or plot).

RL.7.5

Craft and Structure: Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy,
sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

RL.7.6

Craft and Structure: Analyze how an author de
velops and contrasts the points of view of
different characters or narrators in a text.

RL. 7.7

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contrast a story, drama, or
poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of t
echniques
unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

RL.7.9

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time,
place, or character and a historical account of the same
period as a means of understanding how
authors of fiction use or alter history.

RI.7.1

Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.7.2

Key

Ideas and Details: Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their
development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

SL.7.2

Comprehension and Collaboration: Analyze the main ideas and supporting details
pre
sented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the
ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.



SL.7.6

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks,
demonstrating

command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7
Language standards 1 and 3 on page 53 for specific expectations.)

L.7.2a

Conventions of Standard English: Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It
was a fascinating, enjo
yable movie but not He wore an old [,] green shirt).

L.7.2b

Conventions of Standard English: Spell correctly.

W.7.2

Text Types and Purposes: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and
convey ideas, concepts, and information through the sele
ction, organization, and analysis of
relevant content.

W.7.9a

Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature
(e.g., “Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical
account
of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter
history”).

The following standards from the International Study for Technology in Education National
Educational Standards and Performance Indicators for teachers will also
be met:

ISTE I.


Teachers demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and
concepts.

ISTE II.

Teachers plan and design effective learning environments and experiences
supported by technology.

ISTE III.

Teachers implement curriculum plans that

include methods and strategies for
applying technology to maximize student learning.

ISTE IV.

Teachers apply technology to facilitate a variety of effective assessment and
evaluation strategies.

ISTE V.

Teachers use technology to enhance their
productivity and professional practice.

ISTE VI.

Teachers understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the
use of technology in PK
-
12 schools and apply that understanding in practice.

My objective is to establish and support a cultur
e of evidence by providing feedback on
student blogging in the seventh grade Language Arts classroom. My study will demonstrate an
improvement in learning. The research and data I collect will aid me in honing my teaching
practices and establishing the use

of blogging in the classroom. This will make me a more
versatile instructor. This independent study has encouraged me to review and select appropriate
models and strategies for e
-
learning. My goal is to introduce blogging to help meet growing
student expe
ctations for classroom technology and learning. I would like to present my content,
applications and application development to my team of teachers as the common core
encourages in cross curricular units. As an educator, it is my duty to address emerging e
thical
issues dealing with technology. I also strive to understand the evolving role of academic
technologists.

Educational technology intersects with the topic of research projects and disgusting
diseases in my curriculum. My cross
-
curricular approach to
teaching students how to research
topics will greatly benefit from the use of a blog. The blog will encourage students to craft their
research paper piece by piece. The scaffolded project will prompt students to report their
findings as they progress throu
gh the research writing process. Some of the focus points for the
blog will include signs and symptoms, transmission and prevention, treatment, and historical
data. The rubric for the project encompasses the introductory elements, the necessary
fundamental
s related to the disease that was just mentioned, methods and results, conclusive
essentials, works cited and writing conventions. Students will randomly be assigned the
following disgusting diseases: Spanish Flu, Ebola, Small Pox, Bubonic Plague, Tubercul
osis,
Vibrio Cholerae, Polio, Diphtheria, Hantavirus, German Measles, HIV, Malaria, Yellow Fever,
Swine Flu, and SARS.


The Disgusting Disease Unit has already started with the reading of the novel
Fever 1793

by Laurie Halse Anderson and
The Masque of the
Red Death

by Edgar Allen Poe. One book
details the impact of Yellow Fever, while the other goes into depth about the Bubonic Plague.
This is a cross
-
curricular unit that each teacher in the seventh grade is responsible for a portion
of. In Science, studen
ts learn body parts and functions, types of diseases and how they are
spread, where these are commonly found in the world and how prevalent they are in the world
today. In Mathematics, students create graphs showing the numbers of people throughout time
wh
o have contracted the disease. The Social Studies teacher requires students to map outbreaks
of the disease throughout the world. I, the Language Arts teacher, help students to research the
diseases, cite their sources, and write an extensive paper on the
disease. The blog will help
scaffold the paper by requiring students to complete each section chunk by chunk and
culminating into a whole research paper. Classrooms are full of multiple intelligences and
various levels of learners. Classrooms consist of st
udents who are gifted and students who are in
need of special educational supports and interventions. At times, students find writing difficult.
The use of the blog will help them to edit their own work and collaborate on ideas for their
papers.

There are

a few restrictions and special conditions within the educational setting. First,
some students do not have computers or internet access at home to complete online assignments.
Students who do not have access to computers and services at home will be encou
raged to use
school computers during school study halls and after school during Homework Club. Second,
there is limited access to the computer lab and laptops carts as all are shared within the pre
-
k
through 8
th

grade setting. This can be combated by signi
ng up for the carts weeks ahead of time
and cajoling coworkers with the use of sweet treats and kind words.


The students will be able to provide a clear purpose to share and collect opinions and
information about an important and interesting topic. Their
research will be fair and balanced.
The students will refer to information from a variety of viewpoints and draw original conclusions
based on their research. Students will be able to gather extensive information from a variety of
reliable sources outside
the classroom. They will correctly site their sources. Student writing will
engage their readers. They will ask good questions and describe interesting ideas to get their
readers to respond. Their writing will show their voice which shall reflect their per
sonality and a
deep commitment to the research and blog topic. Students will be able to show a writing style
that is interesting and appropriate for their readers. They will edit out errors in grammar,
spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or sentences. T
he students will write blog entries with new
information and thoughts without being reminded. Students will be able to include blog features
such as graphics, photos, and links, to enhance what they are saying. Students will show
creativity by using langua
ge and blog features to communicate their message in surprising and
unusual ways.


Title
:

Blog Rubric

Middle School

Description
:

A rubric written for middle school students to self
-
assess their blogs.

Instructions
:

Use this rubric to self
-
assess your
blog.

Grade Level
:

6
-
8

Subject
:


Language Arts

Type of Assessment
:

Electronic Publications

4

3

2

1

Purpose

My blog has a clear
purpose to share and
collect opinions and
information about an
important and
interesting topic.

The purpose of my blog
is

to share information
and my opinions about
an important topic.

My blog appears to be
about unconnected
topics and events.

My blog is mostly about
one topic, but
sometimes I get off the
subject.

Content

My blog is fair and
balanced. I refer to
information from a
variety of viewpoints
and draw original
conclusions based on
my research.

My blog is fair. I refer
to information from
more than one
viewpoint and draw
conclusions based on
my research.

I only present one
viewpoint on my topic. I
do not
draw conclusions
about the research, but
just repeat what other
sources have said about
the topic.

I try to be fair in my
blog, but the
information I present is
missing critical content.
I try to draw
conclusions, but
sometimes my
conclusions are not
based

on the research.

4

3

2

1

Sources

I gather extensive
information from a
variety of reliable
sources outside the
classroom. I cite my
sources correctly.

I gather information
from some reliable
sources outside the
classroom. I make
minor errors when
citing my
sources.

The information on my
blog is my opinion,
without any sources to
back it up.

Most of the information
on my blog comes from
my opinions, without
any reference to
sources. When I do cite
my sources, I make
some errors.

Audience

My writing engages
my
readers. I ask good
questions and describe
interesting ideas to get
my readers to respond.

I think about what my
readers want to know
and write my blog
entries to answer their
questions and concerns.

I try to think about my
readers and answer their
ques
tions, but most of
the time I just write
about what I am
interested in or what is
easy to find.

I rarely think about how
my readers will respond
to my blog. I write
about what is interesting
to me or is easy to find.

Voice

My writing shows my
personality

and reflects
a deep commitment to
the topic of my blog.

My writing shows that I
care about the topic I
am writing about in my
blog.

My writing sometimes
shows that I care about
the topic.

My writing sounds like
I am completing an
assignment without
caring

about the topic.

Writing

My writing style is
interesting and
appropriate for my
readers. I have no errors
in grammar, spelling,
punctuation,
capitalization, or
sentences.

I write so my readers
can understand. Any
errors in conventions do
not take away
from
what I am saying.

I try to write so my
readers can understand,
but sometimes my
writing does not make
sense because of errors
in conventions.

My writing is confusing
and often does not make
sense to my readers.

Updates

4

3

2

1

I write blog entries with
new
information and
thoughts at least once a
week, without being
reminded.

I write blog entries with
new information and
thoughts at least every
10 days or so, without
being reminded.

If I am reminded, I
write in my blog at least
once every two weeks.

Even
when I am
reminded, I often do not
write in my blog for
weeks at a time.

Extra Features

I include blog features,
such as graphics,
photos, and links, to
enhance what I am
saying and to persuade
my readers.

I include blog features,
such as graphics,
photo
s, and links.

I include some blog
features, such as
graphics, photos, and
links, but sometimes
they take away from the
purpose of my blog.

I do not include any
extra blog features, or
the features I include do
not make sense.

Creativity

I use language
and blog
features to communicate
my message in
surprising and unusual
ways.

I use language and blog
features to communicate
my message in
interesting ways.

I try to use language and
blog features to
communicate my
message in surprising
ways, but sometimes
my attempts just take
away from the purpose.

I do not try to use
language and blog
features in surprising
ways.


List of Disgusting Diseases


Anthrax

Bird Flu

Chagas

Chicken Pox/Varicella

Cholera

Coxsackie

Hepatitis B

Listeria

Salmonella

Dengue Fever

Diphtheria

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

SARS

Measles

Epstein Barr Hantavirus

Hansen’s Disease

Legionnaires

Lyme

Malaria

Meningitis

Mumps

Necrotizing fasciitis

Polio

Rabies

Rheumatic fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Scarlet fever

Small pox

Mononucleosis


Disgusting Diseases Research Paper

In your research, be sure to look for answers to the following questions. Not every
disease will have historical significance, but most will have a time when it was more popular, the
topic on everyone’s mind, or an epidem
ic. Please see Ms. Bouchard if you are having trouble
with this or any other question instead of leaving it out of your paper.


Signs and Symptoms (Paragraph Due _____)

• What symptoms do the patients have?

• What are some of the signs that someone is sick
?

• Is there a portion of the population that is more susceptible to the disease?


Transmission and Prevention (Paragraph Due _____)

• Is it viral or bacterial?

• What is the name of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease?

• Find and include a pictu
re (micrograph) of the virus/bacteria.

• How is the illness caused? Ex: toxins destroy cells, viruses attack cells...

• Does the disease involve a vector?

• Is it possible for this disease to reoccur now? Anywhere? In the US?


Treatment (Paragraph Due ____
_)

• What is the treatment?

• Is it possible to prevent? How?

• Who were the people who first discovered or first worked with the disease?

• Who is or was involved with the vaccine, treatment, or medicine?

• Are there any side effects with the
treatment/vaccine?

• Were there any ineffective or harmful treatments at first? What were they and how did they

effect patients?

• Locate data and create graph/graphs. (details to come)


Historical Data (Paragraph Due _____)

• When and where was it the mos
t common, or the biggest problem for humans?

• Did it originate from some animal first?

• What is the historical background? Ex: interesting stories/songs, famous literature or any
related

historical events.

• What is in store for the future with this dise
ase? Is there a cure, are we trying to find a cure, or

how else must we prevent this disease?

• Create a map of the region affected by an outbreak/epidemic (with year).

Name ____________________________ Date _____________________ Class ____________


Inform
ational Research Paper Rubric


Format (15 points)

1. 12 pt. font

2. Times New Roman

3. 1” margins

4. Double spaced

5. No WordArt, proper heading


Introduction

_____ Thesis sentence and 3
-
4 logically organized sentences (10 points)

_____ Thesis sentence and

2 logically organized sentences (5 points)

_____ Thesis sentence and 1 other sentence (2 points)

_____ No Thesis (1 point)

_____ No Introduction (0 points)


Necessary Information
-

Related to Disease (20 points: 5 points each)

_____Complete Signs and
Symptoms

_____ Transmission and Prevention

_____ Treatment

_____ Historical Data


Methods and Results

_____ Logically organized with proper in
-
text citations of required number of sources,

one per body paragraph (10 points)

_____ Minimal organization with
an attempt at documenting some sources, 2 or less (5

points)

_____ No organization and/or no documentation (1 point)


Conclusion

_____3 well thought out sentences that revisits the thesis and summarize the findings in

the paper (10 points)

_____ 2 well tho
ught out sentences that revisits the thesis and summarize the findings

in the paper (5 points)

_____ 1 sentence that revisits the thesis and summarizes the findings in the paper (2

points)

_____ No Conclusion (0 points)


Works Cited

_____Page contains 0
-
3
errors in either format, punctuation, or alphabetizing (20

points)

_____ Page contains 4
-
6 errors in either format, punctuation, or alphabetizing (10

points)

_____ Page contains 7
-
9 errors in either format, punctuation or alphabetizing (3 points)

_____ No
Works Cited (0 points)


Conventions

_____ Spelling, capitalization, punctuation errors, and the lack of sentence variety DO NOT

INTERFERE with the smooth readability of the paper (15 points)

_____ Spelling, capitalization, punctuation errors, and the lack
of sentence variety INTERFERE

with the smooth readability of the paper (7 points)

_____ Spelling, capitalization, punctuation errors, and the lack of sentence variety hinders the

comprehension of the paper (3 points)


Survey

Grade 7 Language Arts Students

Ms. Bouchard


Please circle yes or no to the following questions.

1.)

Did you use a blog in Language Arts class?






YES/NO

2.)

Did the blog improve your writing?







YES/NO

3.)

Did you have an opportunity to edit and revise your own work?




YES/NO

4.)

Did you have th
e opportunity to edit and revise your peers’ work?



YES/NO

5.)

Was there the opportunity for the teacher to conference with you on your writing?

YES/NO

6.)

Did the teacher offer written help on your writing?





YES/NO

7.)

Did you complete the research paper in small

chunks?





YES/NO

8.)

Did completing the paper in chunks help you to better understand each section?


YES/NO

9.)

Did you feel the paper was more manageable in chunks?




YES/NO

10.)

Did you receive the opportunity to search for textual evidence?




YES/NO

11.)

Did you
find evidence that was in audio form?






YES/NO

12.)

Did you find evidence in video form?







YES/NO

13.)

Was the teacher helpful when using the blog?






YES/NO

14.)

Did the teacher offer useful comments via the blog?





YES/NO

15.)

Was class time extended after schoo
l hours through the use of the blog?



YES/NO

16.)


Was the blog a useful classroom instructional tool?





YES/NO

17.)

Do you think a blog would help you in future academic activities?



YES/NO

18.)

Would you recommend other teachers use blogs in their classes?



YES/NO

19.)

Did the blog help to improve your spelling?






YES/NO

20.)

Did the blog help to improve your punctuation and grammar?




YES/NO



Students’ writing prompts from February will be compared to the final research paper
that the blog will help to scaffold. Studen
ts will have their writing from the first week of
blogging compared to the writing of the final week to see how their blogging abilities have
changed over time. Students will be introduced to the Edmodo blog on March 18
-
22, 2013. They
will practice initial

usage by writing an introductory post about themselves, reading internet
etiquette websites by accessing the links posted in the blog library and posting class blog
etiquette rules, and posting about their background knowledge of their disgusting diseases

and
classmates allotted diseases. The week of March 25
-
29, 2013, students will learn about citing
online works and begin researching their disease. They will seek out various websites,
approximately 3
-
7, that offer information about their disease. They wi
ll collect information about
Signs and Symptoms. Students will define signs and symptoms and then quote what various
signs and symptoms for their disease are. They will also research which portion of the population
is most susceptible to the disease. They
will post quotes on the blog that detail the various
symptoms of the disease. Students will incorporate the signs and symptoms into their
introductory hooks. At the end of the week, students will be responsible for submitting an
introductory paragraph for

their research paper that details all required content. The week of
April 1
-
5, 2013, students will research the details about transmission and prevention. Students
will analyze the difference between viral and bacterial diseases. They will specify whether

their
disease is viral or bacterial and the name of the virus or bacteria that causes this disease. They
will locate a picture, or micrograph, of the virus/bacteria and post a link for it on the blog.
Students will delve into the cause of the disease and
whether or not it involves a vector. Students
will also identify if it is still possible for this disease to reoccur. Each will submit a paragraph
which includes these details on the Friday that concludes the week of learning. During the week
of April 8
-
12
, 2013, students will focus on the treatment aspect of their disgusting disease.
Students will delve into treatment elements, prevention, pioneers in the cure for, or exploration
of, the disease, side effects of vaccinations, shortfalls in original cures,
and graphic portrayals of
disease information from math class. The week of April 15
-
19, 2013, students will reference
historical data. They will seek out interesting stories, song, and literature about their disease.
They will identify when and where the d
isease is prevalent. They will create a map in Social
Studies that showcases where the disease impacted the world over time. To wrap up the blog
project, students will compile all their paragraphs during the week of April 22
-
26, 2013, and edit
and revise b
oth their own and their peers’ work. Their final research paper will be due that
Friday. Student will complete a survey about blog usage on Monday, April 29, 2013.


Data collection will include a student survey and a writing comparison from the start to
fi
nish of the blog usage. The blog posts will be assessed according to the attached blog rubric.
Scores will increase due to extended exposure to content and the use of additional forms of
participation. The survey will ascertain the value of the blog from t
he students’ perspective.

Chapter 4
-

Results and Conclusions




The blog used to develop the Disgusting Disease Research Paper showed an increase in
students’ writing ability. The initial responses were limited, while the latter responses were well
thou
ght out and developed thoroughly. Students’ initial blog responses were brief and lacked
proper grammatical components. They posted material that was off topic and were distracted by
other students writing online. They sparked up conversations about the Bo
ston Bruins and the
baseball game they were going to attend in the afternoon. After a class discussion about audience
and the purpose of the blog, students were able to provide a clear purpose that shared opinions
and information about their disgusting dis
ease. Students slowly found their voice on the topic,
but they struggled to present critical content to support their conclusions. They were asked to
create class blog rules. Students were encouraged to read several websites provided for their
perusal by t
he teacher which detailed class blog rules for other classes. Each created about five
rules each. These rules were shared and discussed. Some rules were based on emotions, others
were founded in the literature, but others were not quite based on the works
we read as a class.
Students then began to research disgusting diseases and learned how to avoid plagiarism by
citing other works. They began compiling sources and developing original conclusions. As
students began researching their diseases, most of the i
nformation they posted came from their
own opinions. They did not make reference to any sources. As time progressed they began to
reference their sources. Their citations were incorrect at first. Later the errors were fewer.
Students gathered extensive inf
ormation from a variety of reliable sources outside the classroom.
They learned to cite these sources correctly and were required to cite 5
-
10. When students began
the blog, they were only aware of their classmates as the audience. As I mentioned before, t
hey
would write about what was on the forefront of their minds. Things like baseball were
mentioned. One student was writing about the signs and symptoms of his disease and he used the
word “poo.” I sat with the student and explained that not only do we ha
ve our fellow seventh
graders reading our blog, but also the other teachers, parents, board of education members, and
the principal. I asked him, “Would you use the word ‘poo’ with the principal or would you use a
more scientific term?” In future writing,
his word choice was more professional. As student blog
writing progressed, they were able to engage their readers, ask pertinent questions, and describe
interesting ideas to get their audience to respond. Students’ voice developed as the unit
progressed. T
he original blog writing was abbreviated and did not convey much interest. Student
writing developed to show their personality and reflected a commitment to their disease. Some of
the hooks the students wrote for introductions merely mimicked my example. O
thers were
unique and inventive. They painted the picture of a scene where a disease outbreak actually
occurred. Writing style also improved throughout the use of the blog. Students began by using
acronyms and one letter for words. They had numerous misspe
llings and avoided punctuation
like the plague, pun intended. There writing was confusing and did not make sense to their
readers. After instruction, students’ writing style excelled and became interesting, appropriate for
all readers, grammatically correc
t, contained proper spelling, utilized appropriate punctuation,
and used correct capitalization. Students struggled with frequent updates for the blog. They were
required to writ on the blog on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Many had trouble
log
ging on during the first week. Some lost interest during the third week. Others realized that
the blog was an aid to help them complete their work piece by piece, week by week. Other
students wrote on the blog religiously. They wrote their own responses, r
eplied to their
classmates’ responses, and shared valuable information for others to use as research tools.
Students learned to incorporate extra features in their blog posts. They were able to share links to
graphics, photos and other sites to enhance the
ir research paper. Creativity also developed as the
unit progressed. It seemed that as students became more comfortable with the blog, their
creativity bloomed. They placed interesting pictures on their profiles and more. They
communicated their message i
n an interesting manner. Upon reviewing the three blog posts from
the start of the blogging unit to the finish of the unit shows growth in writing ability. Students’
writing abilities were developed through the use of the blog.

The unit was well administe
red. The blog helped students to analyze different aspects of
their research paper. Each week, students were responsible for researching and writing one
paragraph for their paper. The paper was broken down into four weeks. The paragraph topics
included sig
ns and symptoms, transmission and prevention, treatment, and historical data. As
each week progressed, I would meet with my coworker and discuss elements that posed
difficulty to the students. I would then gear the daily blog post into researching the answ
ers to
students’ difficulties. For example, I realized the students were required to share both the signs
and symptoms of their diseases, but they did not know the difference between a sign and a
symptom. At this point I sent the students on a web search t
o learn the difference and share it
with the class and then apply it to their own disease. This exploration helped students to better
understand the content of their papers.

Students realized that each week of blogging set them up to write a spectacular p
aragraph
for their research paper. The scaffolding set in place helped to chunk the assignments. This aided
special education students and others who require differentiated instruction. Students who have
special accommodations were encouraged to cite three

to five sources. Regular education
students were required to cite five to seven sources and talented and gifted students were
encouraged to cite seven to ten sources.

Students were prompted to reply to two other students’ blogs. They were encourage to
st
ate what another student did well on their post and to help edit and revise by stating what
another student could do to better their writing. The teacher also stepped in when a student
seemed to need further prompting. I also provided positive encouragemen
t throughout the while
process.

Overall, student writing has greatly improved through the use of the blog. Students’
writing skills enhanced as they developed purpose, evaluated content, analyzed sources,
understood audience, applied a clear voice, applie
d stylistic writing, updated information
regularly, included extra features, and showcased their own creativity. The comparison of the
first three blogs to the last three blogs showed growth in writing.

Student survey results were positive also. The thirt
y students who participated in the
survey responded to yes and no questions. Eighty percent of students claimed the blog improved
their writing. They all admitted they had the opportunity to edit and revise their own work.
Students answered yes eight
-
five
percent of the time to questions about the teacher offering
written help on their writing. Ninety percent of students answered yes to the question, “Did you
complete the research paper in small chunks?” As a whole, the survey results were positive about
th
e use of the blog. Students felt the blog helped improve their grammar and spelling. Every
student answered yes to the fact that learning was extended after school hours. Most students felt
that the paper was more manageable in the chunked format. The surv
ey depicted a positive
student response to the use of the blog and the fact that it helped to improve their writing.

Student Blog Survey Results

Question #

# of Yeses

# of Nos

% of Yeses

% of Nos

1

30

0

100

0

2

24

6

80

20

3

30

0

100

0

4

22

8

73

27

5

27

3

90

10

6

25

5

83

17

7

28

2

93

7

8

27

3

90

10

9

23

7

76

24

10

30

0

100

0

11

15

15

50

50

12

24

6

80

20

13

26

4

87

13

14

24

6

80

20

15

30

0

100

0

16

24

6

80

20

17

23

7

77

23

18

20

10

67

33

19

23

7

76

24

20

23

7

76

24



Using a blog to improve student writing is a valid use of a teacher’s time. The blog
increases collaborative learning and nurtures a community of learner. The blog created a student
centered learning environment. The blog also provided a place for reflecti
on and enrichment to
the class. All teachers should be encouraged to use blogs as a pedagogical tool. Blogs help
students challenge each other’s thinking, ask questions, draw conclusions and provide a place for
students to learn content from each other. Th
e blog inspired students to work together outside of
the structured class time and offered increased exposure to course content. Students learned by
constructing knowledge for themselves. Blogs are a useful tool for teachers to use in their
classrooms.

Cha
pter 5
-

Implications of the Study



The outcome that middle school students are engaged in writing on blogs and that their
writing improves because of blogs is important information for all teachers to embrace.
Classroom blogs provide the opportunity to
capitalize on middle school students’ interest. Online
communication should be used to support classroom learning. The benefits of the blog come
from students’ interest and the structure a teacher lends to the content to support the task of
writing. Studen
t work from the blog is a great way to showcase good examples of student work
and ways to improve work. This study would support the use of technology, the blog, in the
classroom.


The outcome of this study raises further questions. What other ways can we
engage
students with technology in the classroom? How does one combine technologies to benefit the
classroom teacher? Is it possible to incorporate podcasts, vodcasts and sound bytes into blogs?
What are students missing out on when they communicate with e
ach other and their teacher
online? Will students lose the ability to interact with real people if they complete all of their
learning online? These questions require further study.


There are many educational benefits to blogging in the classroom. Student
s find blogging
highly motivating. Even students who are not eager participants in Language Arts enjoy
blogging. Blogs offer terrific opportunities for students to read and write. Blogs are effective
forums for collaboration and discussion. They are also p
owerful tools which enable scaffolded
learning and mentoring to occur.


The next steps for the research and researcher are to continue using blogs in the
classroom, but enhancing them with more technological tools. The incorporation of voice threads
would
help students who learn audibly. The incorporation of RSS feeds may help students find
additional sources of information. Ideally, I would like to have a paperless classroom. This
would be possible if all work were done online.

Appendices




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