Blogging in the Classroom


When students blog as part of their learning experience, the posts have a focused purpose. The objective of publication on a blog is to communicate within the context of the classroom. Students create content which is shared with an authentic audience, whether it be students in their own classroom, parents, or students and teachers from other schools. A blog is used to communicate. The expectation is that knowledge will be shared and that publishing becomes part of the knowledge making process. This happens as writers read each other's posts and respond with their own thoughts and feelings. Students develop an awareness that the content they are publishing is public and they must be aware of quality and accuracy. When blogging is used by students, we have the potential to be able to teach them to write critically and be reflective about their message and other's writing.

Blog posts are created by one author and are in reverse chronological order. Readers are often encouraged to comment on the posts to create "conversation". In an educational application, blog posts and comments are usually monitored by the teacher before they appear on the web page.

Integrating Technology Students are Already Using

Over 70% of young people join Social Networking sites, most of them posting content, contributing to photo storage sites, and contributing to video sharing sites like YouTube. Their audience for posting content is most certainly their own peers. Using real-world tools in the classroom is not only engaging, but provides an opportunity to teach children responsible and ethical use.

Connection to Illinois State Standards

State Goal One: Read with understanding and fluency
  • Analyze how authors and illustrators use text and art to express and emphasize their ideas (e.g., imagery, multiple points of view). (1C)

State Goal Two: Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras and ideas.
  • Make connections from text to text, text to self, text to world. (2B)
  • Engage in literary discussions (e.g., conflict, resolution, realism). (2B)

State Goal Three: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.
  • Develop compositions that contain complete sentences and effective paragraphs. (3A)
  • Choose the appropriate form, (e.g., letters, essays, poems, reports, narratives), voice and style appropriate to the audience and purpose. (3B)
  • Using available technology, select effective formats for publication of final product. (3B)
  • Write creatively for a specified purpose and audience (e.g., short story, poetry, radio, scripts, play play, TV commercial). (3B)
  • Write a narrative account that establishes context, creates a point of view and develops a focused, powerful impression. (3C)
  • Compose a multi-paragraph persuasive piece which presents one position of an issue that offers sufficient support through multiple strategies (e.g., cause/effect, compare/contrast). (3C)
  • Begin to establish a personal voice and style. (3B)

Consistent with Curriculum Focus on Writing

  • Enhances improvements to the writing program
  • Engaged Learning – lit circles, project based learning, cooperative groups
  • Publishing work and receiving feedback from an authentic audience
  • Promote critical and analytical thinking
  • Promotes creativity
  • Combines solitary reflection and social interaction
  • Constructivist
  • Collaborative


Uses for Blogs in the Classroom

  • Media literacy - read and write about what they watch, read, see on TV or the news
  • Manage course information - easy publishing of notes, syllabus, homework, activities, and assessments
  • Extend in class discussion - allowing quiet, shy, or ESL students a less pressured opportunity to participate
  • Summarize readings - ensure students are prepared when they come to class
  • Literature Circles - thought provoking questions and set up a structure for collaborative contribution
  • Summarize projects or group presentations - group blogging makes information accessible to everyone
  • Class newsletter - communicate with parents and other members of the community
  • Online portfolio of best writing pieces
  • Collaborate with students at another school
  • Literature assignments
  • Communicate with parents with a class newsletter
  • Provide Writing prompts
  • Vocabulary activities
  • Online readings to read and react to
  • Post photos on class activities
  • Invite student comments on issues to encourage writing voice
  • Online book club

Management Tips for Setting up Student Blogs

  • Have students use one (and only one!) publishing tool, such as Classblogmeister
  • What’s features are needed in a blogging tool?
    • No information identifying the school
    • Use first names only
    • Prevent students from using tools that allow them to “blogroll” or access random blogs - blogger.com
    • Teacher monitored
    • All articles comments must be approved before they appear on the Internet
  • Monitor with an RSS reader (Bloglines)
  • Comment at least once for every student the first couple of weeks
  • Specify minimum post size
  • Provide guided questions for reading response
  • Require comments
  • Decide how to grade: quality or quantity? Provide a rubric.

Comments Key to Success

Blogging is a "conversation". The writer expects others to read posts and for the piece of writing to generate some kind of reaction or emotion. Without the expectation that their audience would read, reflect, and respond, there is no reason to post on a blog. Just as your students appreciate meaningful feedback on papers, essays, and during conferences about their work, bloggers need feedback in the form of comments. The connection between the writer and the audience is essential. Students should be taught to make appropriate and significant comments to each other. The primary reason is to learn to be ethical users of the internet. Learning to write thoughtful comments help us become higher level thinkers. In addition, writing comments help motivate the writer to continue the conversation.
  • Meaningful comments are always:
  • Stated in a positive tone
  • if there is a need to be critical, it should be stated like "advice". For example, "It would be helpful if....", "Next time try...."
  • Specific and making reference to the post
  • Express a feeling that you are on the writer's side, always being respectful
  • Using school appropriate language and conventions
The following are good comment starters:
  • his made me think about.......
  • I wonder why.......
  • Your writing made me form an opinion about.......
  • This post is relevant because.......
  • Your writing made me think that we should.......
  • I wish I understood why.......
  • This is important because.......
  • Another thing to consider is...
  • I can relate to this.......
  • This makes me think of.......
  • I discovered.......
  • I don't understand.......
  • I was reminded that.......
  • I found myself wondering.......
Source: Ann Davis http://adavis.pbwiki.com/Significant Comments
Blogging Etiquette by Darren Draper


Testimonials

This is a video created by elementary school children about blogging.

This video is from High School students.


20 Reasons Why Students Should Blog

This wiki provides comprehensive information about objectives and guidelines for safe and responsible blogging in the elementary classroom.

Articles about Blogging in Education
Blogging 101--Web logs go to school
Featured teacher on Education World, a widely know website for educators
Q and A from a self-described "blogevangelist", Will Richardson
Blogs in the writing classroom - article from University of Minnesota
Teacher Generated Blogs - article
Mark Ahlness's description of "just another day" - How blogging fits in!
Support Blogging Wiki - "has been set up to provide an opportunity for students, teachers, administrators, parents, and others to help promote an understanding of the benefits of educational blogging."
Presentation by Anne Davis and Dr. Ewa McGrail about blogging with elementary and university students

Good Examples of Class Blogs Using BlogMeister and other tools



Tools to Use For Classroom Blogging

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There are many other classrooms that use blogging tools to write and collaborate. We stayed with ClassBlogMeister for these examples so you can see how safe and easy this tool is to use.
Miss Fogarty's Lit Circle 05-06
Miss Dadas Shakespeare Project 05-06
Mrs. Pavel's 6th Grade Writers 06-07

Important Documents to help teachers use Classblogmeister



Once you have used Classblogmeister, you'll want to switch students into other classes. This teacher created a screencast video on how to switch students around to other classes.

Other Good Websites>
Blog Safety – a good site that offers good guidelines for students, teachers, and parents.>
Digital Storytelling – This is a great article about different forms of interactive technology and how they can be used as a means to teaching prosocial behavior.




Resources
Richardson, Will, Blogs, Wikis, Podcoasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Corwin Press 2006.