And even beyond that, in the view of Deb Marciano
It's been about a year since Marciano, associate professor of education and coordinator of elementary education at Washington College in Chestertown, MD, created the "Book Lovers' Online Gallery Blog"-- the BLOG Blog-- which represents her effort to connect her class of undergraduate education students with K-12 students, librarians, parents, and educators, as well as provide the K-12 community with an informed resource of children's books.
The blog offers reviews of children's literature and is organized by both grade and category (e.g., picture book, poetry, Americana).
Each review-- the blog has about 150 currently-- offers a short summary of the book as well as a suggested academic activity that might evolve from it, such as having student readers write a journal entry based on the ideas in the book.
A believer in blogging's ability to improve writing skills, Marciano intended the BLOG Blog to also serve as an instructional tool.
The brevity of the book reviews combined with the blog's target audience have worked to hone her
students' writing style.
They are not merely "blowing off steam," as Marciano
says of the traditional function of blogging.
"Blogging about books has made them more precise with their writing, more exact, more focused; they have to use their words more wisely."
adds that the nature of the blog entries-- "short, sweet, and to the point"-- has also helped her
students write better lesson plans: "They're learning this isn't their life story.
Because of the wider audience it affords, Marciano
believes blogging is a more instructive format for students than conventional classroom writing.
"Writing should be for others to read.
In classrooms, most writing is only for the teacher's eyes.
Blog writing for schools can become a real-life experience in the writing process-- draft, edit, revise, publish-- with the capabilities of getting responses from others beyond the teacher."
Unfortunately, academic networking is not immune to the menaces of social networking, as Marciano
found out soon after debuting her
The blog was besieged by spam, forcing her
to shut off the collaborative component of the technology.
Fearing the site would be closed down, she
contacted the site administrator, who turned off the "comments" feature.
Since then, the blog has remained closed to feedback for the safety of the children who are reading it, Marciano
Still, even if her
students can no longer hear back from their audience, they know it is out there, which compels them to give more consideration to their work.
"Writers take more ownership of their writing when they know others will read it," Marciano
"So I see blogging as a contemporary, reallife opportunity for writing development."
argues that it is imperative for teachers to develop their own tech skills so they can bring technology's academic benefits into the classroom.