I recently watched a video (2010) in my graduate class about a 6th grade teacher, Kathy Martin, who integrated blogging into her classroom and how effective blogging can be. This also got me to thinking about how we as educators do things differently versus doing different things in our classrooms.
I am an advocate for writing across the curriculum - yes - even in math. As an 8th grade teacher in the state of Georgia, I am aware and understand the importance of writing in every subject. Our 8th grade students must pass the Middle Grades Writing Assessment (MGWA) in January in order to promote to high school. It is expected that students are exposed to writing in each class, not just in Language Arts.
I have my 8th grade math students keep a Math Journal. Students respond to questions that often lead to class discussions. Questions could be about how students feel toward the subject, a concept, a project, or even homework. Questions can also be about real-world relations to mathematical applications. Students may also respond to lesson or unit Essential Questions (E.Q.'s) in their journal. Rather than having my students do this in a composition notebook, they can post their responses to a blog. In addition, students can read their classmates responses to the journal questions, and respond to one another, thereby generating a discussion between students.
The math journal blog would promote appropriate writing practice for 8th grade students, as well as encourage participation from all students. Sometimes when we hold class discussions, not every student has the opportunity to share, ask questions, or comment - mainly due to time constraints. Blogging is a fair way for students to do those things "in front of the class" as well as to interact with each other and even communicate with students that are in different class periods.
The use of an online math journal in the form of a blog, could eventually lead students to a place where they can publish their technical writing pieces for all to see. Students could be given a rubric to review their peers' written works. In this case, students could "Comment" to each other with editing remarks based on the rubric.
I foresee ultimate engagement, enthusiasm for writing, participation without ridicule, and enjoyment in 8th grade math.
~ Malissa Sauciunas
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Spotlight on technology: blogging in the classroom. Baltimore, MD: Author.