I’m working on building a web site for my AP US History class. In college I taught myself basic HTML, but I didn’t want to fuss with that, so I’m using the wonderful Google sites, which I particularly like because it allows me to very easily use Google widgets such as Google calendar. (I am not getting paid for the amount of times I used the word Google in that last sentence. Google google google.) The web site is progressing nicely in the technical sense, but I can’t seem to make one aspect of it work pedagogically.
Sometimes I get ideas in my head for the classroom and I can’t let go of them. Even if I can’t see a way to make them work, I keep wrestling around and around with them in my head. The latest idea occupying my teacher brain is a blog for the class — not a blog that I post to, but one the kids post to and comment on. I want them to interact in a discussion-like way with each other online (a skill that is more and more important for college and the world of work). I’m trying to think of a way to incorporate a blog like that into my APUSH curriculum in a way that doesn’t feel forced or tacked on and isn’t too burdensome to the kids (who, lets face it, get a lot of work from me already). One thing I’ve been considering is making it into a current events blog. Students could be assigned different days to post news articles and other students could be required to respond. I’m not sure, though, how well current events would mesh with the class. I don’t think I could spare any time in class to discuss them, would that make the online component less valid?
I’d really appreciate some ideas or feedback about this from anyone (teacher or not!) on this. Online blog component, yea or nay? Ideas for how to incorporate a blog and peer comments into a non-English class? Is it a problem if the blogging is not backed up by in class discussion? Experiences, positive or negative, with a “collective blog” like this? Sample class blogs you’d like to point me to?
Help a teacher out.