Cognate Proposal

The focus of my cognate project is to create a more democratic classroom, where students are accountable to their peers, using a classroom blog. Through the use of student blogs, I hope to move the boundaries of the classroom outside of the time limits of the school day and the spatial limits of the school grounds. I want my students to have access to their peers’ ideas even when they are away from school. With the addition of parent accounts on the site, the students contributions to the blog become public to our parent community. During this project, I will also be seeking ways to facilitate online discussions among my students that will lead them to be more aware and appreciative of the multiple perspectives within our classroom community.

Please find my full proposal at the following link: Kelly Lister Cognate Proposal.

Please find a slide show outlining my proposal at the following link: Kelly Lister Slide Show of Proposal.

Arrival at the Topic

The theme of democratic classrooms and learning by doing have been prevalent in many of my courses at Sonoma State University. I also participated in online discussions in a few courses, posting assignments and commenting on my classmates ideas, experiences, and opinions. I have learned so much from my classmates through online and in class discussions that I wondered if this would be a powerful way for my students to learn and become closer as a community. Also, many ideas presented in the Technology Praxis course, about media literacy and student prior knowledge of technology, were making sense to me. I especially liked the idea of students sharing and gaining feedback from their peers.

Before attending Sonoma State, I had never created a website or blog. Once at the school, I used WebCT, provided by the university, and Word Press in the Technology Praxis course, to support online discussions at home. However, I wanted a secure environment for posting my students’ work, since my district is cautious about students actively engaging online.

During the curriculum class, Dr. Montera shared this framework for democratic learning. I hung it in my classroom as a daily reminder.

Carl Glickman and Derrick Aldridge define democratic learning in “Going Public: The Imperative of Public Education in the 21st Century” (2001):

“Democratic learning is:

  • Students actively working with problems, ideas, materials and people as they learn new skills and content.
  • Students having escalating degrees of choices, both as individuals and as groups, within the parameters provided by the teacher.
  • Students being responsible to their peers, teachers, parents, and school community to ensure that educational time is being used purposefully and productively.
  • Students sharing their learning with one another, with teachers, and with parents and other community members.
  • Students deciding how to make their learning a contribution to their community.
  • Students assuming escalating responsibilities for securing resources (of people and materials outside the school) and for finding places where they can apply and further their learning.
  • Students demonstrating what they know and can do in public settings and receiving public feedback.
  • Students working and learning from one another, individually and in groups, at a pace that challenges all.”

Student blogging can be utilized to support many of these goals for a classroom community.

Classroom Blogging

I have had the online blog up and running since January. I have included some samples of the types of writing that students submit on the blog.

Scroll over or click on this apple image to go to the class blog website homepage.

My class blog is at Each student has an account. Many parents and a few grandparents have a read-only account.

My students use the blog for four main purposes. The following are excerpts from the blog. Some of these were completed in class, while some were completed at home.

Media Analysis- Analyze a commercial. Look for stereotypes.

Comments from Peers

Creative Writing Homework: What is an Orfinbellydorfer?

Personal Sharing


If this project is truly successful, I would like to share it with other teachers in my district as a way to start a conversation about media literacy and how to effectively engage students using technology. Currently, my district is creating technology standards for students that are skills based and procedural. I am concerned that we are missing an opportunity to incorporate depth and complexity, critical thinking, and ethics.

Published on March 11, 2010 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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