About a month ago, Brian Bennett (@bennettscience) mentioned that he was going to be using students blogs in his science classroom. I was a little surprised by this (only a little as Brian is extremely innovative and is flipped classroom trainer) because all of the talk I have seen thus far has been about student blogs in Social Studies or English (or some other humanities-type course). Little is really being done in math and science from what I have seen. I had messaged Brian about it because I would like to bring some of this to my chemistry class. Unfortunately Brian is not doing it in chemistry so I couldn’t see any student products.
But it got me thinking: There is a big push with Common Core Standards to bring a greater amount of literacy into every classroom, couldn’t a blog help me reach that goal? But the problem remained, how do I put all of those fancy symbols, subscripts and ion charges onto the blog without all of the necessary format features?
Why this idea didn’t hit me sooner, I have no idea. I decided to type a chemical reaction into Word, make the necessary formatting changes and copy/paste it into the blog like this:
CH4 + 2O2 à CO2 + 2H2O
And suddenly, I can now have my students create electronic lab notebooks entirely on a blog. Oh yeah, and it’s free.
Now when colleges ask students to demonstrate the lab work they have done in their science class, the students can show them the blog. Not only will they be reading and writing more, they are not limited to the small space on the back of the lab sheet. They can write longer entries to better explain their observations and deductions which improves not only their overall literacy, but their science vocabulary as well. And from a grading standpoint, I would much rather take my laptop home every day than lug huge stacks of papers in my bag.
It is also has the added benefit of reducing paper as my students won’t need to add page after page of conclusions to the lab sheet I gave in class. I can actually print 1 lab sheet per station for the lab, post the electronic document to my website, and the kids can copy/paste from there to their blog in order to answer the questions. I might have stumbled upon something here.
I would love to hear thoughts and suggestions on this idea.