My previous experiences with blogging have simply been a way to "keep up" with people. The vast majority of my students have MySpace pages where they do just that. However, some also use those pages to insult, denigrate, and sometimes threaten other students. In my personal mission statement, I accept my responsibility to help my students become independent thinkers and ethical citizens of their school, their community, and their world. The feeling of anonymity in cyberspace means that some students feel "safe" saying things on their MySpace page that they would never dare to say in a classroom or in front of their parents. However, that anonymity is a myth and we are seeing more instances of school discipline (and even criminal charges) as a result of cyberspace bullying. For this reason, I believe I must teach my students the proper use of blogging.
Study hall, as I knew it, no longer exists. However, a class blog can be a virtual study hall. In particular, my 8th grade students who are taking Algebra I Honors have a greater need to discuss the lessons and assignments in groups. We certainly do a lot of this at school, but the requirements of the course demand more of their time. Therefore, I will create a class blog for these students to ask questions, get help, or just confirm an assignment. Although I may not always be available to answer the questions, they will be able to contact at least one classmate for clarification or validation. As we work out the details, I hope to create a class blog for each group of students that I teach. Our goal is to give them every opportunity to succeed during the school day. Today's society demands that they have such opportunities outside of the classroom, as well.