Should you blog in the classroom?

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At the beginning of 2012, I wanted to do something different with my students.  I wanted to share our successes with their parents, as many parents didn’t make it into the classroom. 

I started a classroom blog.

Inspired by Kathleen Morris, I embarked on a blogging journey – all self-taught. I signed up at Edublogs and used their User Guide to find out the nitty-gritty of what buttons to press and what their purpose was. I watched videos like this one, and looked at other blogs and info graphics like this. Setting up my classroom blog looked a little bit like this photo I saw on Twitter earlier, posted by @dendari.

My school allowed me to use Edublogs as my blogging platform, as it is the ‘world’s most popular education blogging service’ (http://edublogs.org). 

Safety and privacy was my number one priority, so I began to set up a leaflet to hand out to parents, including a permission slip and frequently asked questions, adapted from the one that Kathleen Morris had developed.  Click on the following link to see my Blog information for parents.

I explained the concept of blogging to my students and they weren’t really sure what it was all about. I spoke to my associate Year 2 teacher and helped her set up a blog for her class as well. We both had doubts, questions and concerns…

  • Is Year 2 too young for a classroom blog?
  • Is it necessary to have photos on the blog?
  • Would commenting be too tricky for 7 & 8 year olds?
  • Would anybody visit our blog?
  • Was it going to be too time-consuming for an already time-poor teacher?
  • How would I encourage parents to A) look at it and B) leave a comment?

At first, it was exciting and nerve-racking as I tried to figure out what the purpose was of having a classroom blog. Sure, I wanted people to see the amazing work my students were producing, but then what?  We learnt about reading posts – posts that I had written about our lessons – which inspired my students to show their parents when they got home from school. As each post ended with a question, we talked about the importance of a conversation. A good conversation always involves questions, so people have something to respond to. So too, does a good blog post.

Commenting was the next challenge, as it was important for the students to reflect on activities in class. We talked about how a comment was a little bit like a letter – it began with a greeting, was always related to the post and ended with a salutation. Sometimes, a comment might even have a question in it, to encourage conversation!

An early comment

Both of the Year 2 classes held a Blog Launch towards the beginning of our adventure. It was a great chance for the students to teach their parents about what they had learnt about blogging so far – how to navigate the blog, where they could find comments that people had left and how to write their own comments. 

Since my first classroom blog last year with Year 2’s, I have learnt many new elements of blogging. My Year 4’s have taken blogging to a whole new level and we had had the opportunity to be involved in Quadblogging, links with other schools, Skype chats and the idea of using individual student blogs as a type of digital portfolio.

Advantages of blogging:

  • Increased communication between school and home
  • Authentic purposes for reading and writing
  • A wide variety of opportunities to share learning in different ways
  • Improved quality of student work – students trying to show their best work because a photo of it may be shown on the blog
  • Links to other schools to compare, contrast and share activities done at school
  • A greater awareness of geographical locations due to having a blog visitor map – watching the location of our visitors
  • Improvements in mental maths as students add and count up and down to visitor number milestones
  • A sense of pride among the students (and their teacher!)
  • Advances in student confidence with the use of technology, but also typing skills and the willingness to teach others.

I’d love to hear your success stories about blogging in the classroom, or any questions or queries you have about beginning your own. It’s a very worthwhile journey!

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