The longer I teach, the more layers I add to my teaching, and this year I intend to add role play and also opportunities for my students to blog or journal. In my #healthed class my students choose a health topic about which to advocate, and this is based on our school YRBS data (I have previously blogged about this here). Some of my students writing is exceptional and I learn a great deal about them when share their reflections on paper, and as such I want to find more ways in which to incorporate writing opportunities into my teaching. One of my aim in health class is to provide an outlet for them to develop their advocacy voice and I’m convinced that they’ll have greater success if one of those outlets is writing.
I reached out to my awesome PLN to see what other teachers were doing in the classroom and immediately received a great response from Amy Prior who tweets at @teaching_health. She is a MUST FOLLOW for #healthed teachers!
Illinois’ 2017 Health Teacher of the Year Scott Todnem (Another must follow) rose to the challenge and put pen to paper to write about ways in which he uses journaling in his health classroom. Visit Scott’s own blog here.
Journal writing is a voyage to the interior. ―Christina Baldwin
How have you been an advocate in your past? Explain what made your advocacy a success.
How can social image factor into why teens do or do not start dating? Explain how technology impacts dating relationships, both in a positive and negative manner.
Another type of journaling to consider is the online entry. In the 21st century, the use of the internet and cloud storage is only natural.
Why is it important to feel a range of emotions in life? Explain a time when your feelings “clashed” and you felt multiple emotions in the same scenario.
While being respectful to those involved, briefly explain a bullying scenario you’ve seen online. How could those involved have put healthy decision making skills into action?
One final journal activity to consider is to use blank computer paper as handouts for students. (This is particularly useful in this day and age as we move towards paperless work and students show up empty-handed.) Provide a journal prompt, like usual, and then collect those who are willing to have it shared in a common binder. Typed or hand-written both work. With a 3-hole punch, put the accumulating pages into three ring binders that stay in the classroom.
Analyze the influence that movies and TV stereotypes plays on teen development. What is important for a young person to keep in mind while viewing video clips?
What can you explain about drug use and the human brain during adolescence? Feel free to write about brain development, tolerance, relationships, stress, and/or self-esteem in a way that may benefit future readers.
Great advice from Scott, and I love the prompts. These will be something that I will look to develop next semester. I’ll finish this blog post with parting words from Georgia Dougherty, who was recently awarded the PENZ Outstanding New Professional Award. Georgia uses blogging to reflect on her teaching, and also uses blogs with her students.
Students in my classroom have begun to write blogposts to share and reflect on their learning. I find blogging has accelerated my growth as a learner because of ongoing reflection and the increased confidence to share. These are two skills/qualities I deem important for my learners, therefore I am encouraging my students to blog. Blogs are not graded, but I do use as evidence for ongoing ‘assessment’ of learning, to gauge students strengths and weaknesses.
Not all of my students enjoy it currently, but I know there is great potential for them too. They enjoy reading each others posts, and thinking about what they have learnt that period. Unfortunately we only have Health one period per week, and I think if we had more periods, there would be greater opportunity to write posts, and for students to engage with their posts.
I feel blogging and reflective writing cannot be rushed, otherwise it appears to not be as effective, or enjoyable. I also have found in PE, that students like to have success criteria for what to include in their posts, and then students have choice about how they meet this success criteria. This encourages students to explore a variety of texts and media to support their learning further, for example including a short video to help explain the things they have learnt.
Hopefully, Amy, Scott and Georgia’s ideas will inspire you to consider using journals and blogs in your class. I create a list of goals at the start of each year and hope to not only use journaling with my students, but also, with their permission, share some of the best examples.
Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions. Answer them all at once, or as they are tweeted daily on Twitter.
Q1. (Poll) Do you use blogging/journaling in class? Yes, no, or I plan to do so.
Q2. How do you frame blogging/journaling to maximize student buy-in?
Q3. What tips do you have for checking student journals/blogs?
Q4. What have you learned from using journals/blogs with your students?
Q5. Who reads your student journals/blogs – how big is their audience?
Check out previous slowchathealth blogs from Scott and Georgia:
Scott – Three Simple Things
Georgia – Te Whare Tapa Whā