I’m a big fan of learning from the masters. We look to the masters when learning art, music, literature, sports – even prayer and meditation.
This post is dedicated to the blog masters – those who post advice for teachers with classroom and student blogs. Wisdom of the masters + personal experience has led me to embrace the following pieces of wisdom:
Bookmark Great Examples of Kid Blogs
Before diving into blogging, you should check out some examples of classroom blogs and kid blogs. Bookmark your favorites – you can use the great ones as examples for your students.
Many know Adora Svitak from TED talks. She keeps a blog.
A Second Grader’s blog: Nick’s Picks
A Third Grader’s blog: Jarrod’s Awesome Blog
My Fifth Graders: 5a3dragonslair.edublogs.org
Blogs by High School students in Norway are linked to Ann S. Michaelson’s site
Need more? Check out the Edublog Award Winners.
Start with a Classroom Blog
By “classroom blog”, I mean the one that you control.
No need to fear first steps. Online real estate is free. If you want to start slowly and deliberately, consider signing up for the Edublog Teacher Challenge. The challenge takes you through blog setup in a step-by-step fashion.
You can play around with a couple different formats. I’ve tried Blogger. Blogger is easy because it links to your Gmail account. The cautions with Blogger are twofold: Google may “suggest” to students that they check out blogs that are inappropriate. Google, by nature, will also have advertising.
Consider going through Edublogs. When students write on Edublogs, they are only exposed to other education blogs – blogs with safe content. My only complaint with Edublogger is that you cannot keep track of the users who sign up for your blog. I hope they will add that feature – I want to know the email addresses that receive direct email feeds.
Generally, professional bloggers use WordPress. You can start with a WordPress.com site. Like blogspot, WordPress is open to everyone in the world (not just kids). But, my experience is that wordpress.com users are more committed to good content.
Video tutorials are available to help you get started on Blogger and WordPress.
Unsure about what to put on your class blog? Here are 65 ideas.
Begin the year by teaching Good Commenting
I don’t recommend giving students personal blogs too early in the year. Students should demonstrate responsibility first. I like the steps that teacher Kathleen Morris takes with her students.
Prior to writing full blog posts, students need to learn how to write quality comments.
A colleague of mine started student comments with a discussion about responsible use.
One of the biggest reasons to have a classroom blog is for students to practice commenting in a controlled environment. I don’t find that students post inappropriate things, but I DO find they type their last names. I both delete the last names and conference with children who sign with full names.
Helping Student Get Started
One of the easiest ways to help students get started is to have them sign up for the Edublogs Student Blog Challenge. Students receive emails with links to instructions on how to make their blog look great. And, students link up with other student bloggers.
Getting Parents Involved
Next year, I want to make a more concerted effort to get parents involved. A few of my students’ parents have made nice comments on student posts. Kathleen Morris has been far more intentional and has experienced the subsequent success.
Let parents know that students LOVE to receive comments. Comments are one of the biggest motivators for students to continue writing.
If you Want to Assess
I don’t formally assess student blogging. I want blogging to become something students want to do. Instead of formally assessing students, I point out to them ways in which I see their writing improve.
That said, sample rubrics are available.
The biggest lesson is to keep identities anonymous. When commenting, students should not use full names. When students create blogs of their own, they should be careful with the “About Me” page. I encourage students to put a Wordle on their “About” page – using words they would use to describe themselves.
I highly discourage names attached to pictures.
I don’t tend to advertise the location of my school. Viewers could deduce the location from the school uniforms, but the name of the school shouldn’t show up in Google searches.
Who do you believe are the master blog teachers? What have you learned from them? What links would you recommend?
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