Monday, February 13, 2012

An Introduction to Blogging – A Guide for Teachers

More and more classrooms are using weblogs as a tool for sharing and reflecting on learning experiences. Some teachers use weblogs as a communication tool, posting regular updates about the classroom so that parents are kept informed about classroom activities. Others teachers invite students to use blogs as a way to publish final written products such as stories, and critiques. Blogs can also be used to share rough drafts, and first impressions, to chronicle an entire learning journey. There are many different ways to incorporate either a class blog, or individual student blogs, into your own classroom.

As an educator, the first step is to think about the reasons you want to blog with your students. What is the purpose of the blog? Do you want to document the learning process? Is your purpose to share a final product? Are you hoping to provide students an opportunity to receive feedback from others? Is the intent to provide a space for reflection? Defining the purpose is key.

Once you have determined the reasons for incorporating blogging into your classroom, decide on the knowledge and skills that students will need to have before they even begin to create their first post. As I have worked with teachers and their students, we have created a list of tips that we have found to be important to review prior to blogging:

1. Share the purpose of the blog: In order to students, parents and school administration to understand the reason students are using this tool, it is critical to share the goals of the blogs. A parent letter may be the best way to communicate this information.
 2. Determine your audience: Who will have access to view the posts, or to comment on the posts? Are you hoping that parents will comment on student posts? If you hope to share ideas with a global audience, and to make connections with teachers and classrooms around the world, your blog settings will different than those who want to only share with a closed group of people, like parents and students in the class.
 3. Choose a blog hosting site: Blog hosting sites differ in how they are managed, but all sites offer a multitude of settings for users so that the blog can be as open or as private as one wants. Recently, I have been working with KidBlog which allows teachers to review posts before allowing publication to the web. For many, there is comfort in knowing that all posts are subject to review by the teacher. This site also allows teachers to reset student passwords which is a handy feature. This tends to be a more time-consuming process than using a blog hosting site like Blogger where teachers have no control of publication of their posts. Ultimately, this decision will rest solely with your own comfort level, both in your students, and in the blogging process.
 4. Educate students about responsibilities: Whether you are choosing a blog site with teacher controls or not, educating students about etiquette and expectations when blogging will help ensure that the posts will be appropriate. As well, it is a good idea to discuss consequences for students who violate ethical posting rules. One of the ways to do this is to review the Acceptable Use Policy for Technology for your division with your students prior to accessing the blog. I have also created a Power Point presentation about the “rules of the “road” when blogging.
5. Explore other blogs: In order to provide students with a better idea about the potential of blogs, I suggest sharing examples of other student blogs at all levels of competence. From this exploration, together, you and the students will be able to co-construct a list of criteria for their own blogs. (video clip about co-constructing in the classroom). As an educator, you may also want to explore how others are using blogs to engage in professional learning. The Top 100 Education Blogs is an older page (2006), but many of the links are still active and will connect you with some amazing educators!
 Good luck with your blogging experiences!

1 comment:

crissycochran said...

Great helpful tips! We love what student blogging can bring to student learning. Here is a past post from our CEO - More Reasons for Student Blogging.