Exploring the Blogosphere
Blogs have the potential to be more than just online journals—blogs can be communities and forums of information. To help students realize this potential, allow them to get a feel for what's out there. Create a lesson that serves as a sort of 'get acquainted' with the blogosphere. Exploring and evaluating topic-based blogs kills two birds with one stone: students familiarize themselves with the topic-based format and hone their critical thinking skills. Students who explore topic-based blogs will also learn that a chosen topic can provide inspiration, feedback, and a built-in audience.
To initiate exploration, first consider the level of freedom appropriate for your class or school. You can allow students to choose a topic of interest and use a search engine or a site such as bloglines.com to search for blogs on their topic, or you can create a 'safe exploration zone' by providing students with a list of pre-approved topic-based blogs to visit. Both options have distinct advantages.
Allowing students free reign to explore builds essential Web skills and develops an understanding of the connectivity of information. If you simply tell students to type their subject of interest + the word blog into a search engine, you will be well on your way to encouraging each student to develop a sense of ownership over your blogging curriculum. By facilitating exploration, you are drawing associations between blogging and a topic of interest. You are also crating a feeling of freedom and a sense of personal choice that the student will now associate with the blogging curriculum.
Once students have spent some time exploring the blog world, you can guide them towards the next natural step: communicating the knowledge they have developed, and expressing their opinions to an audience of peers.