Posts tagged blogging

Persuasive Reasons for Kazakhs to Blog (Part III)

I have more that I would like to share about blogging and encouraging my Kazakh students to do the same as me, blog, blog, blog.  But you will see below why it might be a problem for some to get started. One student on her own blog said that it was fear, check out Wizard of KZ to see what she wrote several weeks ago.  Also it can be discouraging if there is not someone who knows, right beside the newbie blogger. It can be down right self-defeating.  However,  just today I had some of my seasoned Kazakh teachers tell me that their older students took no time at all to figure things out.  The teachers were admitting that they were actually learning from their own students.  I say that all the time as a student-centered teacher, but you have to know this is a big step for very teacher -centered teachers to even verbalize the fact that they are learning from their students. I see more cross over in methodologies coming soon from some of these teachers.  How refreshing!

Student G – “After reading the article I had a scary and exciting thought what if we implied blogging in the lesson there might happen an interesting and amazing way of self-learning, thus developing students autonomy!!! I like the article very much. the experiment they made is very similar to our PDP program. We also learn to blog and share information with each other. Mostly we work individually and with the help of our teacher.

It is very difficult to be objective to this article. If there was a chance to read it earlier I wouldn’t believe in results! I also wouldn’t believe that blogging can improve and develop cognitive skills, motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic), interaction and so on. and now, I am familiar with all of it. and the results are really amazing!!!!  I do like blogging as a tool of self-education and self-assurance.”

Both Student G and H are newly minted teachers from the Pedagogical University but still they are both teachers at heart.

Student H – “The interrelation between blogging and writing skills, between blogging and autonomy is surprising. Blogging is a very effective way of improving one’s communication through writing skills. A lot of writing promotes learner autonomy, makes the way of expressing your ideas, thoughts and feelings easy. Student autonomy is a combination of such activities as colloboration, negotiation, interaction, interrelation and self-development.

On my part, creating my own blog encouraged me to feel the whole responsibility of mine as a writer. “People write not because they want to say something, but they have something to say”. That is the main reason that leads every writer to keep on putting his ideas from heart onto the page. That is why whatever you write you should do it with responsibility. You should be aware that your writing will meet a public audience. And the wide audience is the motive that will keep you on the right path.

The article “Augmenting Learner Autonomy through Blogging” shows the investigation – blogging vs. its effect and proves its invaluable impact on the language and cognitive skill development, independent decision making  and self-improvement process.

Actually, when I was creating my blog I faced some difficulties with blog options. I even failed to make my memorable entry perfect. Because of the lack of blog strategy I published one image several times. As a matter of fact, I was wondering where my picture was, while it had been publishing on my blog again and again. But now I know you shoud wait a bit before having your post published.

Blogging is great, once acquianted with it, it is useful to make friends forever.”

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Persuasive Reasons for Kazakhs to Blog (Part II)

Here is a continuation from yesterday’s blog about blogging.  My PDP students had read several articles on reflection and one on blogging.  I am taking their comments from the forum section of Moodle so you can see their thoughts on this topic of blogging.  Helpful to see the different Kazakh perspectives.

Student D – Having read the article offered by our teacher “Augmenting Learner Autonomy through Blogging” and basing on my own experience I can make the following conclusion:

First, blogging is really very educational. When you know that not only your teacher will read what you have written but also your friends and even total strangers, you understand how important and responsible your work is. you choose the theme carefully, check your spelling, vocabulary and grammar lest be ashamed of the mistakes you have made. In this way you improve your language.

Second, blogging develop your cognitive skills (i.e. purpose setting and generating ideas). Once you created a blog, you are to set your purpose: “What are you going to write about?”. Then you must think about your ideas and not spread about all the ideas that come to your mind.

Third, you improve your writing skills as you write for the whole world to see. As a result, you learn how to write a good article and use an appropriate style and appropriate words.

The fourth and one of the most important benefits is increase of motivation. When a student write and know that some people are going to read it and sonebody will approve of his/her ideas and he really wants to share his ideas he becomes motivated and involved. Especially when some of the readers leave a comment and you get feedback you really enjoy doing it.

But there are some (as we see from the article) problems that student have to face when creating and using blogs. First is lack of computers and not everybody has one at home. Second is limited access to internet. I myself face this problem because Ihave no computer at home and at school I have much work to do except blogging. But I hope that by and by the problems will be overcome and everything is going to be excellent.

To sum up what I have written I can say that even though we lack computers and not always have access to internet, all the same we should use the opportunities that blogging can offer us.

Student E – I really liked this article as it describes the major reasons of using the blogs. Blogging is getting more and more important in our modern world. And I am glad that I also have started blogging and can express my ideas and thoughts through it and of course as it was mentioned in the article I will be able to improve my writing skills. It is also interesting for me that in the article it was written that blogs were used as someone’s personal diary online and then it became as one of the meaning of writing. Nowadays blogging is of the most important part of autonomy learning. Talking about autonomy learning, it is assumed as a centre stage of language learning in recent times. It also helps learners to become more independent by making decisions, critical reflection and independent actions, and I totally agree with as now I decide myself what to write in there about. And of course I know that blogging is a big challenge for some reasons especially in the beginning when you are not confident enough of what to write about and how to write. Students in fact are learning to work on their own and some of them are sharing with their experiences, as some students don’t really have computer proficiency and they fail to work on their own, while other have some experience in working with computers, then they can help their peers to get along. As for me I also was a little nervous when I opened my blog and the teacher said “now, you can write” and it was a shock for me as I asked her what I should write about…

Some of our students as I noticed felt confident enough as they started writing so good as it seemed for me that they have been blogging for ages. I know that it always takes time to develop yourself in whatever you start learning. That is why I hope that every time I write in my blog i wil get better.

Student F – Having read this article I had a brilliant idea, why not augment my students autonomy through blogging. If our students create their own blogs in order to discuss or share some actual problems and news, it will enhance the student’s reading and writing skills faster than we do now, of course, if we follow the structure figured out in this article.

There are a lot of people who are autonomy learners, for example, Nazarbayev Intellectual School students augment their learning via reflections on learning English or whatever subject they learn. It seems the same we do through bloggings.

From my point of view, it will help the teachers to make their lessons easier and more interesting through bloggings. On the other hand, students will be encouraged to read and write more. And the blogs created by them own will give them autonomy. So, feeling this autonomy, making one step ahead the students will be close to the teachers. The students will be aware to read more, consequently developing their writing skills. Today, especially when the students are keen on lot of computer games, which can be useful and usefulness. So, why not attract their attention on reading through bloggings, whatever the teachers write or their thoughts on anything.

Today it was a great day to experiment this idea with my different aged students and I analysed that teenage students were more interested than 10-12 year old students. It is clear that teenagers have a lot of themes to discuss with me, relating to the subject, life or family. We teachers do not know what is happening inside of our students family, especially their living conditions. On the contrary, the same questions touch our students too. And when I showed them my own blog they had a big desire to read whatever I wrote. Why not? First they had a time to read it was about our discussion on Human trafficking. They read it, then asked questions on the topic seen on the blog. It was really interesting, they said they would keep reading it at home. When I asked them if they have had an internet access at home, I was glad because everyone had it.

Secondly, today our teachers have big problems on concluding their lessons There are some questions should be asked in order to solve this problem:

– How to conclude the lesson? or Are there any ways to conclude it?

I think lack of time causes such problems. And why not use bloggings for reflections at the end of the lesson, without spending time for that.

Further, the teachers should follow this new technique and it is time to refresh the teaching methods. Moreover, after such bloggings among the teachers and students, the teachers will know what part of the lesson was interesting or vice versa. Or what should we work on to make our lessons interesting and cognitive.


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All About Blogging (Part II)

This is a continuation of yesterday where I summed up what I heard my students (who are really teachers) relate about the articles I assigned them to read on blogging.  One wrote the following from an article titled “Educational Blogging.” “Blog now refers to a web journal that comments on the news – often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones.” She then listed the five major uses of blogging in the classroom which seems odd given her above definition that it is criticized as being clever but rude.  But to continue with her thoughts, she wrote:  “Now blogging resembles more and more of a conversation. That’s why it must be given a purpose and it must remain unconstrained.”

One very astute student had read an article that dealt with teaching first year composition students how to blog.  She wrote:  “I have found out that blogging plays an important part in encouraging students to write…being passive observers, from the very beginning, students became active participants.  They got involved in a larger conversation.” She also added: “Many people criticize blogging saying that it is ephemeral, that it focuses on the everyday.” However, she wrote “blogging gave me a new sense that writing matters.”

Coincidentally she noted the same thing in our Kazakh teacher’s classroom.  I’ll let her explain: “There is an interesting poster in the classroom where we have lessons, it has the following inscription: “Learn something new today.”  A dog is searching on the Internet. So looking at the poster and spending my time with my classmates and my teacher, I really “learn something new every day!”

I loved the following that was written by another bright student of mine:  “Today I’ve read two articles about blogs as learning tools and problems that our teachers have in Kazakhstan.  Reading about the problems I thought to myself, “hmmm…that’s true, the author knows so much about our country” and I felt pity for my colleagues who have no opportunity to cope with them.  Because, really, we are to re-educate our policymakers.  So that’s a big problem.”

From the other article I’ve learned so many interesting things about blogging.  To tell the truth, I’ve never thought that a blog could be used for educational purposes.  As for me, I used blogging just for sharing ideas with my friends on MySpace.  But, really, why don’t we use blogging as learning tools?”

The following is from another student, I liked her salient point about voice and audience though she didn’t use those words, but I’ll talk about that later in our reading and writing classes:

“In my opinion, the main point is that communication in written form among blog participants gives participants more time to reflect on and to better articulate their ideas.  Also, knowing that their writing is available to the public, students might have a stronger motivation to write well so that the quality of their writing might shine, as the author says.”

Finally, I will end with this “shiny” testimonial from one of my more active writers, it made my day:

“On the second day of our studies, we talked a lot about blogging, using technologies in EFL classes. It was pretty much like yesterday when we did talking from the FORUM [magazine].  As I listened to other teachers, I was thinking what was the point of our studies if all we did for two days was talking.  But then I got it!  You learn while you listen to the people who are just like you are and all of them are walking in your shoes:  teach English, know the weak points and problems of our English classes.  The difference they have from us,[newly graduated from pedagogical university] is that they deal with teaching for a longer time. It means that their reflection on what they read will be based on their experience with our local students.  They’ll receive bigger amount of feedback and respond with useful ideas and thoughts, though it does not mean we do not (;-)

So the theme was blogging.  That is the thing which has been attracting my attention and interest for a rather long time. That is my nature to try everything I think interesting, but it’s been a long time I could not sit and learn fully what it is.  On my last year at school, I dreamed to find some time and get one blog but alas!  And then I came to Astana and one of the three things I’d be studying here is guess what? Blogging!

Sounds like I’m lucky!  The point that it is a part of my course means that doing blogging does not mean wasting my time but combine my self-development and my work as a TEFL (T means teacher)

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Blogging: Misunderstood, Misrepresented and Maligned

Bloggers are the snowboarders of the Ivory Tower slopes. Blogging is akin to graffiti on the wall to those in sterile, writing labs who insist on compositions being in a particular format to be assessed by a thorough going scoring rubric. Today I will blog about blogging because I think it is too new for many people in Kazakhstan to fully understand its merits in an academic setting. In fact, Microsoft hasn’t caught up yet, the word “blog” keeps having the little red squiggle line under it as if a misspelled word. I have found there is not much research out about blog writing yet. However, the same names keep popping up with frequency in the journal articles I’ve been poring over this weekend. Even less is known about blog readers. That would constitute my daily group of 125 people who check in every day to see what new or unusual thing I report on about Kazakhstan. Yes, I know too well that the world outside of blogosphere, well, bloggers are clearly misunderstood, misrepresented and maligned.

In order to encourage future bloggers to just DO IT, I would be the first to admit that blogging is freeing and part of my therapy of living in a foreign land. For those Kazakh students who live in this land, I would submit to you that blogging is a way of transmitting information to the unknown masses of the Internet who are curious about Kazakhstan. Occasionally you might get a response or a comment. Nice to know when people write to let you know what they REALLY think, for the most part I have only gotten positive feedback. Those who growl or grumble about what I write because they don’t care for my particular political views, well, noone forces them to read this blog. Freedom to choose to read my blog or not, is entirely up to you dear readers. I have a fairly good idea who reads this daily commentary because of the personal responses I receive from those friends of mine who check in every now and then. It used to be when I first started this blog in August of 2007 that it was only my friend who got me started with and my Mom. They would read just to make sure I was doing okay. Now, I know there are people from all over the world who are educators, journalists, aspiring writers, students, businessmen and curious others who want to know more about Kazakhstan.

My main objective is to tell the rest of the world what a great land this country of Kazakhstan is, while I continue to find out about its history and as a result know its people better. I guess in a sense if I feel that blogging is disdained by those in academia who believe that blogging is not scholarly enough, I suppose that is how Kazakhstan feels to the rest of the world, misunderstood, misrepresented and maligned. Since I don’t know the Kazakh language and barely know about the Kazakh culture, I can only write what I learn in English. I will encourage and ask my students to submit their stories to me so that I can turn around and “self-publish” it on the Web for them to participate on my own blog. A kind of “hybrid blogging.”

In the future, I would hope that more Kazakh students would start their own blogs by blogging in English. Never mind the correct grammar or on the structure of each daily entry. I had tried an experiment with my Ukrainian students several years ago where I insisted they write three blogs a week. Making it an assignment took away from the freedom of blogging but I’m glad that some of my former students have continued the discipline of keeping it up even as I have done. The important thing is to just write what you know and have a passion about it.

I do understand the inhibitions to write for a public audience are latent from all the years of paranoia which accompanied the Soviet “Initative is Punitive” concept. My older, teaching colleagues would not DREAM of putting their words out there for the rest of the world to read!!! However, our younger students are seeking their identity and want to carve out a place to show they are proud of their national identity. I think that makes blogging a good fit for this developing country of Kazakhstan. Tell the story about Kazakhstan or this foreigner might get some things wrong. If I do, I stand corrected with comments from my readers.


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