Kingsborough Community College Computer-Integrated Teacher Education

BLOGGING AS A CALL TO ACTION: A Collaborative Project for Early Childhood Teacher Candidates

EDC 92 – Seminar and Practicum in Early Childhood Special Education

Laura Kates

This project is designed for a new course that will begin being offered in the Kingsborough Education Program in Fall 2024. The course – EDC 92 – Seminar and Practicum in Early Childhood Special Education – will be a capstone fieldwork course, with each section enrolling a maximum of 10 students. My campus CITE team asked me to design a blogging project that would emphasize using digital communications for advocacy and activism.

EDC 92 Learning Outcomes addressed in this project are:

Explore trends and current issues in early childhood special education in the United States.
Analyze the sociocultural and political contexts for the development and learning of young children who are culturally and linguistically diverse.
Create a safe, equitable, positive, and supportive learning environment in which diversities are valued.

Some ISTE Standards addressed in this project are:

1.1 Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.

1.2 Digital Citizen

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning, and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.

1.3 Knowledge Constructor

Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts, and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
1.6 Creative Communicator

Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats, and digital media appropriate to their goals.

This project addresses Equitable Pedagogies by engaging teacher candidates in the process of exploring advocacy-related blogs by other educators, by having them self-select a topic of genuine personal meaning and importance related to Early Childhood Special Education, and by scaffolding them in process of formulating a problem statement and a call to action related to their self-selected topics, then putting their perspectives into the world through digital media. The project also supports the teacher candidates entering into dialogue with others calling for reform by inviting a wide range of stakeholders to read and comment on the blog posts.

Digital Practices from the CITE Framework included here are:

  • Digitally-supported communication, participation, reflection
  • Critically and ethically navigating digital information and media ecosystems

Computing Practices from the CITE Framework included here are:

  • Tinkering, experimentation
  • Data practices

Digital/Computing tools students will use in this project are:

·  WordPress

·  Padlet

·  Google Docs

·  Blackboard Discussion Board (or similar tool)

·  Search engines

Since enrollment in each section of this course is limited to ten students, this project is designed for work in three teams of three to four students each. Working in teams will allow students to pool their expertise in writing persuasive arguments and in using technological tools. It will also allow them to share and expand their insights and impressions about what the pressing issues related to Early Childhood Education currently are in our society, and in co-constructing a vision for possible solutions.

I’ve chosen WordPress as the platform for the class blog because it’s easily accessible and easy to use. Other instructors may prefer other platforms. This resource on using blogs in the classroom, from University of Michigan’s Sweetland Center for Writing, is a very helpful guide for faculty thinking through the how and why of incorporating blogging into coursework.

Below, I describe in detail the steps and materials of this five-phase project:

PHASE 1:

INQUIRY INTO BLOGGING AS A CALL TO ACTION:

STEPS OF THIS INQUIRY:

1. What is a blog?

a. Discuss: Anybody know what a blog is and what they are used for?

b. On Padlet – post responses to the following questions: What do you think of when you think of a blog? List and describe any blogs you may have read and in what, if any, they have influenced you. Provide links to the blogs you’ve read if you like.

2. Discuss: Bloggers often use blogs to call for some sort of change or action in our society. You’re going to be creating a blog post in your teams about a policy, law, or practice related to Early Childhood Special Education that will conclude with recommendations for change and a call to action. To prepare for this, let’s explore a few blog posts by and for educators.

3. Analyzing educators’ blog posts: The three posts linked to below will be used to unpack and analyze how and why some educators use blogging to communicate about an education policy, law, or practice and how they incorporate recommendations and calls to action into their posts. The first post listed will be worked on together as a whole class, then the other two will be done by the teams for homework and reviewed and discussed in class. After each post is read, this google doc will be filled in and will form the basis of the class discussions.

PHASE 2:

IDENTIFYING CREDIBLE SOURCES AND CHOOSING SOURCES AND A TOPIC FOR THE BLOG POSTS

This phase of the blogging project stands on the shoulders of Laura Scheiber’s work for CITE 2022. It presumes that the students will already have participated, in their initial Social Foundations course, in the more in-depth inquiry about identifying credible sources that Laura created for the course.

STEPS OF THIS INQUIRY:

1. Discuss: Your blog post will include summary and discussion of articles relevant to your topic from at least three credible sources. Let’s review what you know about credible sources and consider how this will help you identify credible sources for your post.

a. On Padlet, brainstorm and record what’s known already about what a credible source is and how to identify them. If these criteria don’t emerge from the discussion, provide the students with Laura Scheiber’s list of criteria:

2. Read and respond to some articles from credible sources:

a. With your team, select three articles from this list of articles about

b. Early Childhood Special Education and answer the following questions for each article:

                                                         I.     Referring to our criteria for identifying credible sources, explain how you know the article comes from a credible source.

                                                       II.     Briefly summarize each article.

                                                      III.     What changes to policies, laws, and/or practices is the article calling for?

                                                      IV.     What specific actions is the article calling for?

                                                       V.     Based on your reading of these articles and your own interests and life experiences, what is a topic related to Early Childhood Special Education that your team would like to create a blog post about? (Please remember that it must be a topic that will call for some sort of change and action to a policy, practice, or law related to Early Childhood Special Education.)

3. Workshop on searching for sources:  Now that the topics for each team’s blog post has been identified, during class time conduct a workshop on how to find at least three articles from credible sources for each team’s post. (This might include articles from the list linked to in Step 2, above, if appropriate.)

Workshop sequence:

·  Students share strategies for finding relevant credible sources that they’ve used effectively in the past.

·  Instructor and students share which search engines are best to use for which sorts of sources and a google doc is created listing the search engines.

·  Instructor and students discuss and practice how to select the best wording and phrases to put into a search engine in order to get the most relevant results.

·  Instructor and students discuss and practice how to use hyperlinks and the reference list from a selected source to find other relevant sources.

·  In their teams, students search for sources for their posts, continuing to refer to the criteria for identifying credible sources from Step 1.

·  The class comes back together, and each team shares their process and their results. (If any team has been unable to find three credible sources relevant to their post, instructor can schedule an additional time to meet with that team in order to assist with this.)

PHASE 3:

WRITING AND REVISING THE BLOG POST

STEPS OF THIS INQUIRY:

1. Review the guidelines for the post:

So far, we’ve studied some blog posts of educators calling for change, studied some articles in which the authors call for specific changes and actions related to Early Childhood Special Education, and you’ve chosen a topic and identified some credible sources for your own post.  Now, you’ll begin working on your first draft of your own post. Let’s review and discuss the guidelines for your blog post.

2. Peer review of blog posts: A class session will be used for peer review of blog posts, following the steps of this procedure.

3. Instructor feedback on the second draft: Students are given two weeks to make any desired revisions based on the peer review, then the instructor provides them with feedback on their second draft.

4. Posting to the blog: Teams make a final set of revisions based on instructor’s feedback, and post this third draft to the blog. Instructions are shared about how to post to WordPress and time is spent in class demonstrating the process and troubleshooting any problems with doing so that the teams have encountered.

PHASE 4:

PRESENTING AND COMMENTING ON THE POSTS

1. Posting comments to the blog: Once all three posts have been posted on WordPress, each student is asked to post an individual comment to the other two teams’ posts. Prior to doing this, a brainstorm is conducted during class time and recorded on a google doc addressing the question: “What makes for a high-quality comment on a blog post?” Students and instructor can also invite peers, colleagues, family members, and members of related organizations to read and respond to the posts.

2. Presenting the posts: The culminating activity for this project is an oral presentation about the post made by each team. If desired, stakeholders whose work is pertinent to the topic can be invited to join the presentations. Questions students are expected to address during their presentations should be shared and discussed ahead of time. Some meaningful questions to ask students to address include:       

o   Why did you pick this topic?

o   What did you learn from your research (sources)?

o   What is your position on this topic and why?

o   What specific actions are you recommending be taken and by whom?

o   Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

PHASE 5:

REFLECTING ON THE BLOG PROJECT

1. Writing a final reflection: On a Blackboard Discussion Board, or with a similar tool, each team is asked to write and share with the class a final reflection about the Blog Project. In this reflection, students are asked to write about their learning about both their topic specifically and about using blogging and other forms of digital communication generally. The reflection should include their thoughts about the strengths and limitations of using digital communications as calls to action and as a form of advocacy. Reflection on what they’ve learned from the project about how and why they might use digital communications with their own future students should also be included. Once posted, the instructor and the students can comment on each reflection.