- Actively engage students
- Motivate students to write on a regular basis
- Encourage students to find and use a wide range of creative skills (visual skills including graphic design and typography, computer skills, thinking, writing)
- Validate students’ efforts and Increase their confidence by allow them to see their work “published” online — just like grown up writers, artists, and journalists.
Here is a quick guide to help you get started blogging in the classroom.
1. Find your excitement — and share it with your students
Take some time to ask yourself why you think blogging is a good idea for your students and to arrive at a clear, brief “elevator pitch” of an answer. Classroom time is precious — be sure you are convinced that blogging is a valuable use of that time. Yes, blogging is a great way for students to show their work — but that’s the end product, not the process. What skills will the process of blogging teach your students that you believe are worth the time?
2. Get the support and permissions you need
Your blogging project will need support from key players, due to concerns about online safety and other issues. It’s important that you start early and be proactive about enlisting interest and support. Start by finding out if other teachers in your school or district have created blogs with their students, and talk with them about how they got permission and their experiences. You’ll need to discuss your idea and receive permission from your principal and your school’s tech coordinator. You’ll also need to get parents’ permission.
3. Choose a platform for your blog
There are a number of good ones. Two of the most popular are Kidblog and Edublogs, so you might start by looking at them.
4. Decide where blogging belongs in the mix
Blogging can be a great tool for teaching writing —but you’re not teaching a blogging class.
So be sure to keep using all the other excellent tools and strategies you have for teaching English language arts. Spend some time considering what role you want blogging to play in your classroom, and answering these questions:
- Will blogging be taught as a special unit — or be an integral part of your class throughout the year?
- How often do you want your students to work on the blog?
- Will they write blogs in class? If so, during what part of class?
- Can you assign writing a blog as homework or an extra credit activity?
- Could you start an after-school blogging club
5. Know why blogging and writing are not the same
Writing can be a strictly private form of expression (as in a diary or journal) or it can be as public as a slogan on a billboard on an interstate. “Blogging” is writing that is intended to be posted on the internet, and to be accessible to all. You will need to clearly explain these differences to your students.
6. Teach online manners, hygiene, and safety
In these digital days, you can’t assume that students know or understand what privacy is — or that they understand that the internet is one vast international broadcasting system. Before your students even log in to their blog account, you’ll need to discuss safe blogging practices and why they’re so important. Remind students that what they post on the internet can never be erased (at least not yet) and anyone can see it. To help ensure that students take this seriously, many teachers create special “contracts” for students to sign stating that they understand what they post to the blog is public, not private. This is a critical digital lesson for students, and one worth bringing up frequently.
7. Create Paper Blogs
A useful way to help students approach the idea of creating a blog, understand what it involves, and generate excitement is to have them understand what is involved in creating a blog, and generate excitement is to have each student create their own “blog post.” You can have them do it on a piece of paper, or a large file card might be a more appropriate, depending on the age of your students.
Assign a topic, such as something relating to what your class is reading. Let your students write anything they want on the subject for a stated period of time. You can also instruct them to illustrate their blogs, then display them on the wall to help them get a sense of what their posts would look like.
8. Start with introductions
When students are finally ready to blog, have them introduce themselves to their prospective audience, in the same way they would introduce themselves in a social situation. (This can be a good teaching moment for students who don’t yet know how to do that.) This is also a good way to get students to write about themselves, think about what they want to share on the internet—and how much they should share— on the internet.
9. Teach good “netiquette”
Blog postings should invite readers to make comments, create a community of people interested in the subject(s) covered in the blog, and invite communication about it. You’ll want to help your students understand the purpose of blogging and “netiquette” relating to:
- Encouraging and supporting dialogue in their blog
- Thanking people for sharing their experiences and thoughts
- Accepting and responding graciously to differing views or corrections
- Writing a comment that disagrees with a blog or corrects it
You can do this by having your class find (or you can hand out) real comments to blogs. Have students read them to the class and discuss why they are good — or not good. Discuss with your students the importance of upholding a high standard of writing and “netiquette” — perhaps by providing examples of blog comments that have deteriorated into stupid name-calling. Have students read a blog and write their own comment to it. This will be more educational and interesting if some students write comments agreeing with the blogger, and some disagreeing. Finally, model how to encourage dialogue, and how to respond appropriately when people disagree by having some students write responses to blog comments.
10. Use your blog to connect with others
If you are old enough to remember how excited kids used to be to have a pen-pal in another state or country, you’ll understand the value of becoming “blog-pals” with other classes. It’s easy to do with Quadblogging®.
11. Let your students run with it
If your students are like most, they’ll be excited about blogging and have lots of ideas about what they want to write. Most students take great pride in their creativity and authorship. Once students feel they are able to express their authentic selves as bloggers, they usually work hard to provide their followers with a “quality product.”
12. Announce your blog to parents and colleagues
Your students will be eager to see their work online — and to have others see it and comment. So be sure to let parents know when the blog is live and how important it is for them to read it and leave comments. Invite your fellow teachers, students in other classes, and others (as appropriate) to do the same.
You can’t hurry blogs — no, you just have to wait
Blogging is always a learning process, no matter what your age. An important lesson for your students is that blogs gain readership and “followers” over time. As a teacher, it’s important to stand back and enjoy the process unfold, as well as how your students learn and develop as it does.
Blogging can be a useful and engaging tool to help your kids put what they’re learning about writing into practice. It’s give them an opportunity to organze their thoughts, gain the confidence to express them in writing, learn internet skills — and also learn that to communicate means listening and responding appropriately to what others think.
We’d like to hear from you! Has the information in this blog been useful? If you’ve written a blog with your students, we welcome any suggestions you’d like to share.