We have a lot of non-starters when it comes to blogging. I've heard all of the best rational and reasonable explanations for this - "I only have one computer in my classroom..." "There's no space in my timetable for it..." "My students are too young/too old/hate writing/not interested..." and so on. Then there are the teachers who say they don't know what the purpose is - kids need to handwrite in their books, not tap, touch, type all day!
Well, pish-posh I say to that. Pish-posh.
The reality is, that blogging is such a powerful form of reflective practice and student engagement if we, as educators, are committed to teaching it effectively.
No - you don't need to have all of the answers. No - you don't have to be a great writer. No - the posts don't need to be all read by you before they go out to the general public (but you may want to monitor the content anyway). No - you needn't worry about how much or how often they write, at least not to begin with. But yes, getting started is paramount!
Kidblogs, Blogger, Edublogs - these are the most commonly used student blog platform. They are simple to use and easy to manage with plenty of simple tutorials available online. Give your students the sky and watch them fly! I found that it was best to buddy up my pupils the first year that we blogged as we integrated it into the writing programme, so that it became part of the normal expectation for our class writing time. The students loved having an authentic platform to write their reflections of their learning on. The posts were simple - sometimes as little as a sentence, but they were a clear stepping stone for the students as they learnt to blog.
Next, we looked at writing for an audience and we spent some serious time on the format of blogging. We call this the 3 T's in our class - title, text and take a photo. This has become really important with all of the creative commons limitations with using images from the net now. So the goal is to make sure that their buddy polices this - ensuring they have covered the 3 T's before the blog entry is posted.
From there it grew - they grew it - as the children in my class sought more and more to write and read and read and write! We connected with other classes and began to learn about how to write effective, positive and appropriate comments. This ensured that we respect the words of others and demonstrate that through our comments and questions.
Blogging is the beginning of something that you will never look back from. In fact, I couldn't imagine my classroom without it now. And I certainly couldn't imagine myself, as a reflective educator, without it either.
I'm teaching Years 11-13 and we have a on line learning environment, Desire2learn, which gives each user their own blog. I began eighteen months ago by promoting the blog as a place where students could write each day for their writing journal. Not a lot of students took up the option, until a girl with the apt name of "Blogg" started to promote her blog. While the regular bloggers are still in the minority, I see they are going into Discussion Board to promote their latest posts and they are being read. The next step is to promote greater use of blogs and to demystify them for my colleagues.