The Good Blog
My ESL099 class was quite active on the blog. Students practiced a variety of writing skills while using the blog, including summarizing, doing research, writing reports, citing sources, practicing key art vocabulary, and giving opinions.
Students for the most part worked on blog posts during class and lab and also worked on things they hadn't finished at home.
The Bad Blog
My ELL101 class was not as active on the blog. It seemed to be difficult to encourage students to do their blog posts, even though it is listed as 20% of their grade on the syllabus! The students sometimes seem overwhelmed by the many subtopics introduced in the course, but also seem to not do much homework outside of class, whether it is reading the text, catching up on missed work, or posting on the blogs. The one thing that prompted many students to do any work was to call it "extra credit."
I feel as though I didn't promote the blog enough, but also reacted to students' lack of engagement with it by requiring fewer and fewer posts on it. My great intentions of having interesting extensions to class through discussions on the blog seemed to slowly die and now I haven't given them a blog post assignment in weeks. I will give them one more assignment, a reflection on the blog use, and will have to see if anyone does it!
I think that I did not have the same opportunity with my ELL101 class as I did with my ESL099 class. At the start of the semester, I had one of my two class days located in a computer lab, which would have allowed for interactive activities, blogging in class, and other benefits of having the computers. I was moved after one or two days because of a need from the office of student disabilities, so I reworked my class and modified all the curriculum I had been designing to use in the computer lab. I think that not having a lab during class makes a big difference in whether or not the students actually use blogs.
To make the blog more visible in the class, I could have highlighted student work on it and shown some of the students' posts in class. I did this during the first few weeks, but then lagged in doing that, as I assigned fewer blog posts and students were less active on the blog.