We live in such a technology-run society. The time when calling was once the main way to communicate with your friends has now been replaced with Twitter, Facebook and internet blogs. The question we now face as educators is how do we reach out to our students who speak a different language than us, this language being the language of the internet and a technological world. Can we implement this technology into our classrooms? Can the internet provide an educational foundation as well? The answer is yes and yes! No matter what the subject is, the internet can be a wonderful educational tool. In this post I will focus on the use of blogs in the classroom and how we can meet our NYS LOTE Standards through these lessons. For example, Students will use the TL to write a short personal blog post including their opinions, likes, dislikes and overall reactions to the French commercial and will comment on at least 2 peers’ posts using the TL.
Using blogs in the classroom is a great way for students to communicate with you as a teacher as well as their fellow students in the target language,in my case French. The difference is that the students would have less pressure to make a mistake in front of their classmates. They could edit and revise their posts before submitting them and they can take as much time as they need to think it through. In class, students feel the need to impress their classmates and so either refuse or are hesitant to participate or they say the wrong or inappropriate responses to be “funny”. It all depends on the student dynamic of course and obviously these things can’t be avoided online either but they can be managed. Giving students the outlet to express themselves in the comfort of their home or outside of the classroom is something I’d love to provide my students with as a teacher. In addition, blogging is shown to broaden one’s horizons of thought. Through writing, students allow their minds to think more abstractly and out of the box, if you will. This way of thinking is another component I’d encourage in my classroom. All opinions matter to me and I would like to show my students that their opinion is valid and important to not only me but to the other students in the classroom. By requiring my students to respond to other student’s posts and comments, I would hope to encourage a sense of community and unity among the class. Students who may not usually talk to other students in the classroom setting would talk to them through the online blog classroom setting.
My students would obviously be required to use the target language, (TL) in at least 85% of the work done online. Students would be encouraged to correct other student’s grammar and I would stress that making mistakes is a huge and very necessary part of learning a new language. I would rather my students make several grammatical errors than to not speak or attempt to write at all. In addition to the students reading and writing in the TL with myself and each other, they would also be exposed to authentic videos and texts from francophone countries that I would provide them with. These authentic materials can be so easily found online and I’d want the students to see just that. One of my goals would obviously be for the students to reach out and discover these links on their own time, outside of class. I could post French commercials or advertisements for TV shows that could be found through France TV such as this link which is a short weather forecast summary. Students could be required to watch the video and then comment on their understanding of the video and what the weather was supposed to be like according to the video. Depending on the level of the class, the questions and requirements would be different of course. For example, if this assignment was for a 7th or 8th grade class, their reaction comments would be in English and they would state simple phrases in French on what the weather was like. One of my other main goals would be by exposing my students to these authentic French materials would be to show the students that it is OK to not fully understand the videos or texts. The goal is to find an overall understanding. The exposure is what is important.
I would also share photos from my own traveling experiences and have students react to them. The following are photos from Bordeaux. “What is your impression of this city? What was the weather like when I was there? What types of things do you see in these photos? Use as much of your French vocabulary as possible.”
Blogging in the classroom not only raises self-awareness and awareness of others but it can also lead to a more unified classroom. Students would learn to be opinionated, express themselves constructively, take more pride in their work, develop an understanding of other student’s work and feedback, and ideally, students would become more motivated in class. I would absolutely implement blogging into my classroom curriculum.