Pages

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How and Why to Get Your Class Blogging


“I don’t want to do this.” The second grader looked at me with determination.  Her mind was quite made up.  I was surprised to find this little island of resistance in my sea of excited students. 
“Do your parents not want you to do this?” I questioned.
She flashed me a bored expression.  “Nah, I just don’t want to.” 

How it Started
This all began with our blogging experiment.  We all have students who don’t like to read or write.  I wanted to change that, but I needed to find a solid motivational tool.  Something that would spark student interest and keep them coming back for more.  The answer I found was blogging.
I blogged about the beginning of our journey here: http://www.fortheloveofteaching.net/2011/01/student-blogging-is-brain-based.html

Since then, we’ve blogged about thinking stems, summaries, math, our snow days, and about an egg-drop we did during brain-awareness week.  Students are always excited to go check for new comments.  Which leads me back to the student mentioned earlier.  She put her thinking stem on the blog that day.  That evening she received several comments from around the globe.  She was so excited; she created her next blog post from home, on her own time. 

Results
I have seen a marked improvement in use of thinking skills, fluency, and writing throughout our blogging journey.  Students respond to comments, which improves their written communication skills.  Blogging is a powerful tool.  Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Which Blog Service to Use
There are many tools available.  For this blog, I use blogger.com.  I didn’t think it had the functionality I wanted for my 2nd graders though, so I chose kidblog.org.  It has proven to be the perfect tool for my class.  It is easy to use and update even for an early elementary child.  Setting up a class is quick and easy even for the technologically challenged among us.  It also has versatile security settings.  If you want comments from outside sources though, make sure your settings allow anyone to comment…but choose the option to approve comments before they appear.  Other blog options include Classblogmeister, Wordpress, Edublogs, ClassBlogs, and Typepad, among others. 

Introduce it to the Class
I introduced blogging to my class by showing another class blog that was already underway.  We read some posts and even left comments.  Then I showed them their very own class blog and demonstrated the steps to make a blog post.  When we went to the computer lab, there was still some confusion but most were able to proceed without much additional help.  We took our pre-written thinking stems to the lab with us that day to post to the blog. I wanted them to be able to focus on the process of making the post rather than the writing process at that point.

What to Blog About
I see student blogs being used in many different ways.  Some are publishing stories, yet others are discussing physics.  It’s up to you.  I recommend blogging about things you want them to practice and/or have a deep understanding of.  Remember they will be motivated to do good work because people outside the class will be reading and commenting on what they write.
Getting Comments
Receiving comments is a key to maintaining student interest.  If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, now is the time to create one!  Once your students have their posts up, sign on to twitter and say something like:

             2nd grade bloggers looking for comments! #comments4kids http://kidblog.org/mrsdahlsclass4

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
 #Comments4kids is a hashtag.  That means that anyone who follows that particular hashtag will see your post. (Hashtags always have a ‘#’ in front of them.) Don’t forget to include the link to your blog.  Several fellow twitterers will retweet your post to their followers.  Be sure to comment on others who are asking for comments as well.  You’ll soon find yourself with several blogging pals. 

Leave your blog address at http://comments4kids.blogspot.com/ to hook up with other classroom blogs.

Also be sure to send the link out to parents, who will probably forward the link onto grandparents and other family members.  They love to leave comments.

Leaving Comments
Students will be excited to respond to comments left for them and to leave comments for classmates.  You will want to set clear guidelines on commenting.  Here is an awesome video to share with your students about commenting: http://comments4kids.blogspot.com/p/how-to-compose-quality-comment.html.

Finally
Student blogging is a remarkable motivational tool.  If you have students you are struggling to motivate, give this a try.  My student mentioned earlier is still blogging happily away and is quite animated in her discussion about her blog.

Note: If you have not discussed Digital Citizenship with your class yet, please do that first.  Check out this post: Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

Enhanced by Zemanta

17 comments:

  1. Very nice. I knew your blog by a Twitter post from Francesco Arleo and I'm reproducing this in my blog. Here we're doing something like you in our schools. I hope to be in contact. Leo
    www.filosomidia.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fantastic! Let me know if I can help in any way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great post. Encouraging commenting (and receiving comments)is a neat way to make writing and reading authentic worthwhile experiences for kids. It makes their eyes shine-they all love to see their names in print.
    I type up my children's stories in one blog post as we don't have access to our computer lab often.
    Do you think there is a way to network with other teachers so commenting can be 'exchanged'.
    Thanks for your ideas and discussion of your experience. It sounds very successful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love it!! I admire what your doing with your students and I'm a big fan of you on twitter (does @maha9313 ring a bell :)).

    I'm teaching prospective primary school teachers about web 2.0 tools in the classroom and I'm definitely recommending your blog post for reading.

    they've already seen your students posts during class and they were surprised at the way you used math as a subject for blogging. Can't wait to see what other surprises you have.

    Maha

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oona,
    To exchange comments with other teachers or classes, make a blog post on your class blog titled something like 'blogging pals' and include links to other blogging classes you find. (You can find some on my class blogs at http://kidblog.org/mrsdahlclass4). That will give your students links for leaving comments.

    Also be sure to leave your class blog address at http://comments4kids.blogspot.com. Additionally, go on twitter and post your address with the hashtag #comments4kids. Teachers regularly check that hashtag.

    Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maha,
    Yes, I know exactly who you are on twitter! Wow, I'm honored that you're using my students blogs as an example! Thank you so much. They will LOVE to hear that. More motivation! :D
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  7. Diane, this is a great way to get all your students involved in class. I'm a pre-service teacher and i never really thought about getting students involved in blogs because usually students like me would use things their teachers have used to get them involved. Even though I'm a secondary teacher, do you think using a blog in a secondary education class make the class more involving for those who are afraid to talk in class and to voice their opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, Diane. I'm Diego and I am a pre-service teacher. I was wondering how quickly did your students learn the concept of blogging? Did all of them like the idea of it?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Diego,
    The students learned the concept of blogging very quickly. I showed them other student blogs first, so that helped give them some background knowledge before they started. There was only one student who wasn't excited about it, but after she received her first comment she changed her mind!
    I am sure blogging would give a shy secondary student a chance to voice their opinions. My son is very shy (he is 18) and he is much more willing to post something online before speaking in front of a class. Just make sure you preview any comments before allowing them to be visible.
    Let me know if you have any more questions.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just wrote a draft about this and have yet to post it -- I'm so glad to have waited to I could link to this post! You're such a great teacher!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Here's the post where I reference this post --http://ht.ly/4AkBd

    ReplyDelete
  12. What an excellent post! Thanks for the helpful tips and insights into blogging with a class.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow! I think its great not only that you’ve incorporated blogging with your students, but the excitement and learning they’re gaining from it! I’ve always thought about trying blogging in my classroom, but I wondered what exactly I’d have them blog about. After reading this post, I realized it really isn’t the topic, but their interest in what occurs that matters. I agree that blogging is a powerful tool, and can help students learn and improve different skills without them realizing! I think it’s fantastic that your students have started blogging on their own time. This shows just how much they enjoy the new addition to their classroom. I look forward to taking your advice and getting the blogging movement going in my own classroom! Thanks for all of your great tips!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think this was an exciting ideas. Class blogging, or academic blogging. The students have the space to share their knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank You so much for your post! I am trying to share with teachers how blogging can be beneficial to students and you have made so many good points!

    ReplyDelete