This article is about a teacher who was given the opportunity to participate in a program called live in the Field sponsored by Earthwatch. Rachel went to Vietnam to help scientists study butterflies. Part of the experience she was required to keep an active blog and be connected with her students and submit lesson plans based on her trip. Her main goal was to teach her students about Vietnam, its geography, culture, and the Vietnamese people.
Her students are nine to ten years old and she said that her greatest challenge would be making the blog interesting for them. On her first attempt she had basic questions to be answered with concrete facts. She was not happy with that and she directed her blog more into the student discussion area were her students could share their thoughts. She also created online quizzes with rewards and that got her students hooked. In her article she lists tips for blogging in the elementary classroom. One of the tips was "1. Post questions that students will enjoy answering-questions that encourage them to share personal experiences and opinions..." When she returned she left her blog up for others to see: Rachel Peters' Blog.
Q1: How effective is this type of activity as a teaching tool for students?
A1: I would say that this is a wonderful way to share an experience with your students that is also very educational and productive. The biggest thing I liked about this type of activity is that Rachel was teaching her students about another culture and the people that lived in that culture. From my experience American students need to be aware of other cultures around the world so that they are not isolated in their personal perspectives. Students can learn a great deal with an activity like this. The interactivity for this type of project is great, the students participate and learn a lot through blogging and answering questions and relating it to their lives.
Q2: Can this activity be used in other means, not every teacher can take trips around the world and share their experience with their students.
A2: I'm sure that if you could be acquainted with specialists in various fields like anthropology, bio conservationists, and many other exiting fields. You could ask them to blog with your class. An example of this would be studying Egypt, you could ask many historians working there if they wanted to participate in a classroom blog and you and the historian could formulate questions and activity's the students could complete using the blog and technology.