All About Blogging and MORE!!!

Yesterday, I heard many good ideas about what the Kazakh teachers read about blogging and how they can use it in their classrooms.  One candidly reported that she was used to reading other people’s ideas from blogs in order to write her assignments at university.  She admitted that if she wanted her own students to respect her, she knew she had to be up on the latest 21st century technology.

Another student revealed from the article she read about blogging that it really took off after the tragic 9/11 event happened.  Those who had been up close to the real tragedy had something to contribute to the rest of the world because the mainstream media had been caught flat footed.  Blogging became more popular for not only being a private journal but for world wide audiences who clamored to know more information.

Blogs have different themes according to another student.  You can have 1) opinion/acceptance 2) interaction with others 3) word of mouth.  One teacher already had experimented with an assignment that was blog-related by using penpals with a QSI school in Almaty.  At first she did control the content of what was sent to the other paired up students, but then when her own students from Astana begged to go off on their own to communicate with their pals, she eventually let them.

The comment came up that sometimes students will use the excuse that they don’t have Internet at home and will not do their blog assignments. So true, so true. Someone else mentioned about the movie titled “Freedom Writers” that the teacher was able to get different stories from the troubled teenagers in her classroom and in that way she broke down the walls of prejudice and negative feelings that existed in that inner city school.

Interesting that the idea of introverted students as blog participants was brought up more than once by my teacher/students. Supposedly introverts have more opportunity to express themselves in their blogs because they have an equal opportunity to write. Someone added that with blogging there is more of a chance to reflect and later write something as you dwell on the different things that have been read or discussed in class.  Sometimes, for those who are shy, it is very difficult to share face to face in a classroom setting. With blogs, however, you can be more honest and tell the truth, especially if you use an alias.

Yes, the usual class time in Kazakhstan is compressed with only 45 minutes each period and with 30 students in each class, the students learn more if they are actively involved. Therefore, if they blog, they are putting their own reflections down and maybe not saying things that would please the teacher necessarily.

What was mentioned was that writing becomes really important when you do blogs, the students find that writing on certain topics REALLY matters.  That was true for three out of the 10 teachers who found their own stories or what they wrote for me earlier on THIS kazakhnomad blog.  They found not only that their words were valued but they knew that they had a potential audience with my own blog readers. [whoever you are out there!] In any case, it made them want to write better.

Someone else mentioned how the Kazakh students are becoming more computer savvy with using powerpoint or moviemaker.  Some do the best with what they have and produce a good product.  The one teacher, who is tech savvy himself, read an 2008 article but he couldn’t agree that it was only an average of 18 hours a week that was used on the Internet, he thought that was a very low figure.  I and others had to agree with him.  For some young students, they are on Internet with social networking over 3-4 hours a day. [On a side note: Interesting that last week I had found out from an administrator that Kazakh children are supposedly only allowed 2 hours a day on their computers.  They say that it hurts their eyes but I think it might have more to do with circuits being overloaded and slowing the whole system down, thus the time limit.]

Another article that was read was about the use of cell phones and assigning the use of videos from cell phones.  The author was from Turkey and we all wondered how old the students were and if they really had rich parents where the students had expensive cell phones to take the videos.  How was the quality?

However, I liked the idea about using film in the classroom and turning off the audio so only the picture showed and then reversing that, having the students listen only to the audio without the picture.  They would have to predict or guess what was really happening in the story.  THEN after they wrote about it, on the blog, the teacher would allow them to experience the film with audio and visual together.  This gave ME ideas about how to use this in a future class with my dear students.  I want to show short clips and have my students, who are teachers, guess what was really going on.  One observed that there are different kinds of students, visual, audio, kinesthetic so they already know about the different kinds of multiple intelligences already.  I have some pretty bright teachers I’m dealing with so *I* have to stay on my toes.

I think this is going to be fun to have these Kazakh teachers write reflection journals on their Moodle blog.  I’ll learn from them about their teaching practices. Hey, I’m a student-centered teacher in a teacher-centered environment.  Hopefully these new students of mine will have a chance to look back on what they wrote about what they learned in the short 10 weeks we will work together.  A win-win situation for all of us.

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