Class blogs are a great resource and a great tool for teachers to save time and stress, and help students as well. One great way to enhance student learning is to put students in the driver’s seat. Show them just enough to get them started, and get them writing, posting, and sharing. One way I did this in my Geography class was that the first period of the year was an introduction unit. We weren’t yet focusing specifically on the regions of the world; we were busy getting an overall view of layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, climates, biomes, etc. How does it all fit together? So I designed a project for them to get some basic knowledge about all the regions of the world. This consisted of assigning each student a region of the world (our textbook divided them up pretty easily), and then teaching them to create their own blog on WordPress where they would post weekly about their particular region. This project asked them to create four posts–one weekly for a month that covered:
- Basic Information – Physical geography, languages spoken, religions practiced, interesting facts.
- Comparison – Choose two countries from the region to compare to your own on a few key areas (education, economy, etc)
- Current Issues – Read and report on two articles of current interest in the region
- Travel Brochure – Why would others want to travel here? Advertise what stands out about this region of the world
Then, although this was a lot of work to grade, I asked students to comment weekly on at least 1-2 other student blogs, so we could get some cross-pollination, so to speak, of the learning going on. I wanted them to share with each other what was happening in these regions. It turns out everyone had some very interesting things to report on and to share with their classmates.
Here are a few examples of student blogs created during this project:
Ximena E – https://ximenaecheverriar.wordpress.com/
Juan Carlos F – https://juancafigueroa.wordpress.com/
Maria Jose P – https://majoperezcolina.wordpress.com/
What did we learn from this project? Here are some responses from students:
“I think this project helped me a lot in this topic of geography because I have to be honest and say that I’m really bad at geography and I know almost nothing about this topic. Thanks to this project I learned the culture, history, language… and much other stuff from many countries. But I really like that I not only learned from my region and the countries it has, I also learned from others countries that are not at Eastern Africa because I read my friend’s posts so I gain knowledge from many countries in the world. Actually now I even want to visit some countries that before this project I don’t even knew they existed.”
“I learned about the culture, language, history of Kenya. In the post I did about Kenya, made me want to really go there. I didn’t even know East Africa was called the Horn of Africa because of its shape. Also now I know all the countries that form East Africa. Like Somalia, that is really violent and dangerous! Or Ethiopia that is one of the world’s hottest places. This project really helped me to enrich my knowledge.”
“I learned so much about the world outside Guatemala. I was able to realize how other countries live, their cultures, their traditions, and languages and how they differ from Guatemala. It is amazing how much we don’t know about the countries in the outside, sometimes we are very ignorant, and this is the kind of project that changes our ignorance by increasing our knowledge and by allowing us to investigate some general culture.”
If you would like to use this project in your own class, you can find it here on TeachersPayTeachers: