Perhaps you have seen other teachers doing it. Maybe you just do it for yourself. You've heard people talking about it but not sure how to get started, or how to take the next step.
Blogs offer a highly flexible technology that can be used across the curriculum to provide a window on the classroom, connect learning to family, create authentic audiences for writing, offer a space for reflection...and a myriad of other purposes related to pedagogy and learning areas.
This thread aims to provide stories, examples, tips and advice on how to harness the power of blogging and integrate it with effective learning.
Guest teachers and champion bloggers - Allanah King ('Life is not a race to be first finished blog), Kimberley Rivett (eLearning for Life blog), and Stephanie Thompson (Teaching the Teacher blog) - will be on hand to answer your questions and share their expertise.
Meanwhile, here's a wee video from Enabling e-Learning: Teaching to whet your appetite. Nic Mason, teacher at Russell Street School, says, "teaching the kids something and letting them experiment in their own way" has enabled his students technological capability to develop. He and his students describe the process, some of the tools, and the learning they gain and reflect on, through creating blog posts:
Have you seen this great kickstart guide to blogging, from edublogs, as part of Connected Educator month? It's a great 'how to' resource to get started....
I have been spending some time lately updating http://bling4yrblog.blogspot.co.nz/ which is a blog that I made that give tutorial on how to add functionality to your blog.
The first post gives you a downloadable tutorial that you can print off and put next to your laptop as you create a blog.
After you have started your blog I share some of the ways that you can improve the functionality of it and make it more useful.
I have attached the pdf tutorial sheet here for easy downloading.
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.
Hi would-be bloggers
I teach Year 7/8 students. Each and everyone of my students has their own personal blog which try to keep updated each week.
I've written quite extensively on my own blog about setting up student blogs.
This first is the why. If the answer is all the cool kids are doing it then your classroom blogging will likely be a bit of a FAIL. Here's a few reasons I'm blogging with my class.
We had a techie brekkie at our school this morning which was attended by 13 teachers, from Year 0 - Year 6. They ranged from "I have never blogged/managed a blog" through to expert bloggers who came to support and share. One of the best thing to do when you want to get started with blogging is to find someone who already does it and ask them to be your blogging mentor. This can be as simple as helping you to set up a class blog through to sharing some tips and tools that they have found invaluable. This certainly helps to remove the biggest challenge in getting started which is 'how do I begin?'
If you are a natural blogger or a real expert in blogging, why not challenge yourself and become the mentor for a new blogging teacher? Or get your class blogging with a new class of bloggers? Maybe buddy-blogging or setting up your own team of blogging classes in your own school?
Great comments about mentoring non-starters or late starters Kimberley. Sometimes teachers need to get their head around the 'educational value' of using these tools (what's in it for me, what's in it for my kids?) so that blogging isn't a gimmick or a distraction.
Why use blogs in education? Here's a post in the VLN from Nick Ford, quoting Anne Davis from Edublogs on why blogging is educationally sound.
Blogging and the key competencies – is a reference in NZC online to a collation of ideas from the ICT PD project - showing how the Key Competencies can be developed through blogging.
I love blogging as a way of children sharing their learning with family / whanau and the wider world.
The learning is greatly enhanced when children can revisit it via a blog from home and involve their families in their journey.
One sucessful example of using a class blog to share the learning, on a class trip, with families/whanau is linked below.
Catriona, this was the second time that I have watched your class trip piece and it is just as inspiring the second time around! It really shows how powerful a simple blogpost can be and how we can really cement that home/school partnership through simple use of a wonderful platform.
Thanks Kimberley, it certainly was a successful home/school partnership!
Another technique I have found powerful in promoting blogging to parents was running after school 'comment workshops' where we taught the parents to add comments to their (and other) children's blog posts.
In the early days of blogging I realised the importance of teaching the children how to write a positive comment in order to keep them motivated to keep posting.
I started with a lesson around what makes a great comment and then we practice commenting by using sticky post-it notes to comment on each other's work around the classroom walls.
I then let the children comment on each others posts on the class blog and then we go and find other blogs to comment on. : )
I am sure Stephanie will probably jump in here BUT in case she doesn't - a link to her page around quality commenting checklist for students. I LOVE following Stephanie's class blog as a way of seeing fantastic examples of learning in the classroom. The latest post shows a good example of excellent reading strategies in the classroom. Thanks Stephanie for giving us a fantastic view into your classroom. Reason 1001 for blogging!