I am an 8th grade, literature teacher and am postulating on ways to incorporate blogs into my upcoming unit on Shakespeare. Originally, the unit consists of a class long introduction to the Bard and an in-house designed webquest that groups of students complete to gain a better understanding of life in Shakespeare’s time, followed by a reading of one of the comedies. (http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/media/shakespeare/asyoulikeitwebquest.htm)
I think that rather than have the webquest completed in class, I will allow students to explore the different facets of Elizabethan England through a blog. I will create a blog and compose multiple entries that are filled with links to the sites the students would originally visit in the webquest. Students can then compile the necessary information regarding their assigned job by exploring the blog entries as well as the websites they visit from the blog. Once students have completed this information, students will compose a blog entry from the point-of-view of their assigned Elizabethan character, something along the lines of, “Describe a day in your character’s life”. Students will be required to respond to two of their classmate’s blog entries over the course of the project and make sure that their posts are additive to the overall discussion of understanding the Elizabethan era. A second component of this lesson would involve the facilitator of the blog, me, posting various Shakespearean sonnets on the blog. In class, I would model how to look at sonnets and cover the basic construction and thematic ties that bind the sonnets together. With this information I will have students respond to the sonnets with their own interpretation as well as comment and add on to their peer’s interpretations.
The blogs themselves would primarily highlight student’s creative writing abilities, as well as their analytical abilities as they interpret the sonnets. The students would be assessed using a modified writing rubric with a focus on their grasp of voice, mechanics, and appropriateness. Using a blog in this way will, hopefully, allow students to all comment in a shared environment and receive positive feedback from their peers. Blogs, in general, serve as an excellent instructional tool as it gives the students a greater sense of personal freedom outside the classroom and allows them to use technological skills that they have already acquired, mainly searching the internet for useful information, while demonstrating mastery over the curriculum guidelines.
I know this lesson isn’t quite perfect and I still have many more hours of planning ahead of me before I’ll be prepared for the unit, but let me know what you think.