Saturday, September 03, 2011

P-G: Mt. Lebanon schools finding success, ease with blogs

Stacy Maehling has been teaching fourth grade for 12 years at Lincoln Elementary School in Mt. Lebanon, and two years ago, she started using blogs in her classroom.

The blog is an interactive learning device: Ms. Maehling writes a prompt about a topic her students are covering in their science class -- then students write their own posts in response.

"I found that it was a good way to assess them on what they had learned, a very quick and easy way for me to see if they understood the material," Ms. Maehling said.

Read the full article:

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11 Comments:

Blogger E. T. Gillen said...

Another example of balanced reporting from the Posti Gazette.
Elaine Gillen

September 03, 2011 4:02 PM  
Anonymous John David Kendrick said...

Why does a teacher need an interface to communicate and interact with her students? Doesn't this distance her, or remove her, from the source? What happened to interpersonal communication and reaching students?

To me, it feels like antiseptic education.

September 07, 2011 12:15 AM  
Blogger Tom Moertel said...

For young people, electronic communications media are social and interpersonal. They might seem antiseptic to you, John, but to most students, they are they way you talk with your friends.

September 07, 2011 12:35 AM  
Blogger Matt C. Wilson said...

Electronic communications are a total joke. Anyone who engages in such nonsense is a complete ninny - especially those who post their inane, absolutist rubbish as though it's law! THOSE PEOPLE SHOULD BE THROWN IN JAIL!

;)

On a more serious note: I think there is certainly a tradeoff, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad one. Learning is about context - the more you have, the better equipped you are to absorb the knowledge and truly grasp it.

In an interpersonal setting, the context (outside of the instruction itself) is coming from the surroundings and from the non-verbal communication of the speaker. So for personal experiences, being face to face is hands down the way to go.

For educational material, I think you have to weigh the other options. Videos, creative media, and debate and commentary are all ways of engaging students that you don't have in a personal setting.

That doesn't eliminate the usefulness of field trips or hands-on demonstrations, or just plain ol' well-delivered lecture. They just stand in contrast among the increasing number of options for providing richer context.

September 07, 2011 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but what is the value of Ms. Gillen's comment other than schoolyard name calling? I understand the rationale for prohibiting anonymous comments, but it does not follow that you must post anything to which someone is willing to attach their name.

Chris Frenie

September 07, 2011 9:50 AM  
Blogger Tom Moertel said...

Chris,

We get questions like yours every so often, so we have written about the topic: Why we censor comments only as a last resort.

Additionally, we have been working on a list of FAQs and here's the current draft of the censorship item:

=== begin ===

I find some comments worthless or distasteful or not to my liking, etc. Why do you allow them?

We allow them because the alternative is not to allow them – to censor them. Joe and I don’t want to become the unseen judges of what people are allowed to say and what people are allowed to hear. Taking that authority for ourselves would place our judgment above yours and that of every other citizen, both on the speaking and listening sides of the public conversation on Blog-Lebo.

While freedom of speech on Blog-Lebo (and everywhere else) provides benefits that we think are worth preserving, it does come at a cost. When reading Blog-Lebo, you will probably encounter comments that you don’t like. Truly distasteful comments are rare, however, and even they offer useful information (for example: that the people who wrote those comments are ill-mannered). But it’s your call: If you don’t want to see things you might not like, you probably shouldn’t read Blog-Lebo.

But if you decide to read and then see something you don’t like, please don’t ask us to make it go away. Instead of asking us to privately edit the public conversation to suit your preferences, change the public conversation with public conversation. Post a comment, write a letter. The public conversation is what you make of it. If you want to make it better, participate in the conversation.

=== end ===

Cheers,
Tom

September 07, 2011 11:52 AM  
Anonymous John David Kendrick said...

Yes - Tom does not censor on his site. Others????

Who knows, ... ?

September 07, 2011 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Michael Goodin said...

I have been toying with idea of using a blog in my classroom as an extension of the classroom. From what I have read and seen, the use of social media in school works well for students who are introverted. Social media helps facilitate interaction among students across multiple sections of a particular course. As a teacher, it can be a frustrating experience that sections of a course tend to be isolated units that have little opportunity to interact with the other sections. Additionally the discussion on social media can take place over a period of time longer than a typical class session, social media can deepen students' thoughts and understanding on a topic.

September 07, 2011 4:32 PM  
Anonymous John David Kendrick said...

Hi Mike,

That is an interesting thought. Many people find the interface a more personal and convenient communications interface. Often this leads to exaggerated emotional responses when they use this interface. I admit that I can see the value.

Professionally I have facilitated many Kaizen events. It can be a challenge to elicit responses from some groups, so I have used various group facilitation techniques - the nominal group technique for example.

I suppose what I don't like about this approach is that an introvert remains an introvert because the medium is really just a work-around without addressing the root cause.

Have you had any success transforming an introvert using this approach, or does it only provide a more immediate fix?

September 07, 2011 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Michael Goodin said...

John,

I have not used the social media in my classroom. I am just going by what I have read and heard from other teachers.

I'm not too concerned about an undue emotion responses because a blog would be an extention of the classroom. The students already know each other in real life.

I don't see social media as a way to cure an introvert of being introverted. Introversion is not a disorder. There are some students who love observing class discussions but don't feel confident enough to share their thoughts in an open discussion. However, their written work can be amazing. Unfortunately, I'm the only one that gets to read their ideas and insights. A blog would be a way for them to share their ideas in a way that is less threatening to an introvert.

(Disclaimer: I am an introvert, although most people are surprised to learn this fact about me).

September 09, 2011 8:01 AM  
Anonymous John David kendrick said...

Hi Mike,

Interesting thread.

Consider using the nominal group technique if you want to force contributions. Here is a description of thte technique:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief7.pdf

I like the structure of the approach. It's very useful in politically charged environments or when people are either shy or intimidated. What's even better is that no investment in hardware or software is required.

Nice to meet you,
-John

September 10, 2011 6:50 PM  

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