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80 Eldred Street Williamsport, PA 17701 June 25, 2011 Dr.

Kathleen Kelley and The Williamsport Area School District Board of Directors 2780 West Fourth Street Williamsport, PA 17701 Dear Dr. Kelley and the WASD School Board: I am writing to you at this time to request permission to use a blogging as an educational tool in my classroom. As an 8th grade Language Arts teacher and a proponent of technology in the classroom, I am constantly looking for new and innovative ways to engage my students in the reading and writing process. Additionally, I understand the importance of helping students learn the power of self-reflection, collaboration with peers, and sharing their work with an audience that extends beyond the classroom, all of which are 21st century skills that we as teachers have a responsibility to help our students achieve. With that said, I believe that the use of a classroom blog as well as individual student blogs will be the most effective way for me to help my students achieve this goal of becoming global and digital citizens in todays technology driven society. Please see the attached proposal for a more in-depth look at how and why I intend to use blogging in my classroom. I appreciate your willingness to take this matter into consideration and take that next step in helping our students achieve. Sincerely, Stefanie Welty

Stefanie M. Welty Curtin Middle School 8th Grade Language Arts Classroom Blogging Proposal What blogging tool will be used in the classroom? I will be using Edublogs for my classroom blog. Edublogs has been providing a safe blogging environment for school districts and teachers since 2005. Unlike some of the other blogging platforms like Blogger and Wordpress, there are several levels of membership, including a free version for teachers that allows them to set up a classroom blog with limited advertising that is free from adult content and exposure to other blogs. Edublogs is dedicated to keeping the blogging environment safe for all participants. Additionally, Edublogs has a fairly simple to use interface that requires no knowledge of HTML or web design so that all levels of technology knowhow can work their way around designing and maintaining a blog. Will there be one classroom blog or will students write their own individual blogs? Initially there will be one single classroom blog under Mrs. Weltys name. One blog will be easier to monitor in the beginning and will be devoted to teaching students the concepts of blogging as well as proper netiquette when interacting an online environment. The classroom blog will focus on the daily happenings of 8th grade Language Arts. Posts will be in reference to class activities and assignments and students will have the opportunity to comment and reflect on these activities. After some time has passed and students have become comfortable posting in an online environment, students will begin their own individual blogs that are linked to the classroom blog and monitored by the teacher. The individual students blogs will be a place for students to keep a digital learning log and begin the process of selfreflection as well as learn how to digitally connect their learning to other experiences they have had or seen in the world. How do you intend to use blogging in the classroom? Both the classroom blog and the individual student blogs will be established with a goal of helping students improve their writing and critical thinking skills while interacting in a public environment. Initially that public will be the 60+ students in Mrs. Weltys Language Arts class, but that public could potentially become another classroom down the hall, across the state, or even across the world. Blogging should help students feel a sense of purpose when writing for a real audience that is not just the teacher.

The classroom blog will serve as a means of staying connected with the parents. Because the blog is devoted to the happenings of language arts class, parents could have access to see what their students are doing in class and would be able to see how their children are responding to the activities as well. Parents could even have the ability to comment or respond to activities they feel a connection with. Finally, the classroom blog, as well as individual student blogs, will foster a sense of community among the students of Mrs. Weltys classes. They may not all be in the same 25-student section, but they will be able to see and read for themselves how other students that they may not see or talk to on a regular basis are responding to class. Comments from students in other sections could bring new insights into a lesson. The students will see that they have created something together that the world can see. Why is a blog the most appropriate tool for your learning objectives and standards? Using a blog in the classroom is a great way to teach my students writing and social skills. Students need to learn to write for an audience that is not just the teacher and blogging provides them with an opportunity to do just that. Students also need to learn the life-long skill of self-reflection. An individual blog that is set up as a learning log can provide them the opportunity to reflect and even receive feedback from peers who may have been thinking the same thing. Finally, blogging is a great tool to incorporate into a language arts classroom because of the collaboration and 21st century technology skills that come from keep a blog. How do you intend to create a safe blogging environment for your students? Prior to embarking on a year-long blogging journey, students will complete several lessons and activities regarding online safety and netiquette. It is extremely important for students to understand that once they publish something on the web, it is there forever and because of that, they need to think carefully about what they say and how they say it. Lessons will involve what constitutes inappropriate blogging and misuse of blogging, what is netiquette, and lessons on privacy and safety. One of the ways we will help keep students safe is by not allowing any personal information to be posted on the blog, including their real names. Students will complete a creative writing activity in which they come up with a pseudonym for their blog. As the year progresses, lessons on safety, netiquette, inappropriate blogging, etc. will be revisited should the need arise for a refresher on appropriate blogging.