This week’s reading was Davies and Merchant (2007) Ch8: Looking From the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy. In this reading we explored the world of blogging, from the view of researchers that performed an autoehnographic (new term for me!) study in which they were both the subject and the object. The researchers constructed their own blogs and their own social and technological practices through their respective blogs then looked at the implications of their work. It was very interesting to see blogging through the lens of two very different people – one of which enjoyed sharing pieces of her personal life through her professional blog, and one that was not thrilled with how easily the internet could access his life and, at times, criticize his work.
The pieces of this reading that I liked the most were those that touched on the idea of blogs (or any social media, really) being a performance of ourselves. When we blog we are writing to a large, and often very public, audience and the ways that we write and the content we choose to present is done in a way that we hope meets the wants and needs of a particular group of readers. As our blogs are open to comments from readers, and thus have multiple authors in a sense, we as “bloggers” are vulnerable and perform a version of ourselves that we feel comfortable presenting and that we think the audience we intend to reach will be comfortable as well. These practices create online practices and give our readers some freedom to choose how our writing is read (the use of hyperlinks was the biggest example of this discussed in the chapter.)
I have had my students do some VERY limited blogging in my classroom. I have replaced a handful of assessments with blogging opportunities in which the writing expectations were less academic and the kids are expected to read and leave thoughtful questions and comments on the blog posts of their peers, but these activities have always been independent works, and after reading that “the skills to be learned,while involving digital technology, have implications for literacy” (Davies and Merchant) I got to thinking that it would be really beneficial for my students to have ongoing blogging practices in the classroom, which led me to this article (which, interestingly, I found after reading through several other articles and clicking on various hyperlinks) in which an educator has found success with blogging in her classroom. She realized through her trials with blogging that it was a way to get her students to willingly write and reflect, and although their writing is less academic, it has more depth and she felt that her students were thinking harder about and relating to the content in ways that they previously had not. Though powerful, her article was a bit short, and I am pretty sure her students are not at the elementary level, but the article through which I found hers had some more information about blogging as it related to elementary classrooms. The piece I found most helpful in this article was about the safety aspects of blogging in the classroom. It is always important to stress the importance of internet safety with young kids, and I wonder if blogging might be a good platform to discuss the implications that posting anything online can have that could hopefully transfer into all of their social media practices.
I also found this website with some really great information and links to help elementary teachers get blogs started in the classroom.