I'm ready to blog, but what about my students and the curriculum?

This year will be my first attempt to use blogging to compliment my instruction. I have created a CBM page for the class to use, and I am roaring and ready to go!
My students last year were fairly tech savvy and most were immersed in the internet and internet communication on some level on a regular basis, so I trust that this year's class will be similar.
Here is the thing.. How can I start? How do I set the stage for blogging and provide structure, knowing that later on I want them to be empowered and take on ownership for it?

Also, how can you introduce blogging without having it feel like 'another assignment' or 'extra homework'? For example, my students will be keeping a reading response journal for the literature that we explore, but at the same time I want them to write blog entries on their thoughts as well. I would imagine that initially I would have to provide a strong structure for them, but ultimately I would want them to freely express their thoughts with each other. I would want them to write about things that they are curious about, what they are thinking about a character or the plot etc...

I start the year with a book (realistic fiction). It lasts about 2 weeks or so, and by using it I introduce what good readers do and how they think. I generally don't assign homework from it, as I have the sole copy (I remove other copies from my library) and I read it aloud to them.
If I just did a mini lesson on predicting, I would love to have them blog their predictions and justify it using something from the text.

So after all of my rambling.. how do you get blogging started each year?
Sorry this is so long... originally it was only supposed to be like a few sentences ha!

Thanks for any help,
Adam

Tags: beginning, blog, blogging, education, elementary, start

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I am trying this out for the first time this year. I decided that this IS the homework.... I'd rather have them thinking, writing and responding to others in authentic ways than doing drill-and-kill practice. I have other issues with traditional homework, but I'll refrain from my soapbox now. ;p I started by making a posting rubric for them. There is also a class blog and then individual student blogs. One thing I'm requring on their individual blog is a "Friday Journal" post where they discuss something they learned in class that week or something they struggled with. As with anything in teaching... I think it's all about modeling, modeling, modeling. If I am not happy with the results of their responses, then it's time to model it again. Well, that's my plan anyhow. We'll see if it works!
I totally agree about the drill work.. my reading response is much more open ended and "what do you think - what would you have done" type of questions.. I guess best of luck to both of us? hehe

The more I am visualizing this, the better it actually feels.. oddly enough.
I agree with Amy that the blogging makes great homework (if all kids have access to a computer). I've done several book discussions using threaded discussions. Blogs actually don't work because you need to be able to reply to each post separately. BUT, you could certainly set up a blog and have the students right "reflections".

There was a lengthy discussion here at Classroom 2.0 several weeks ago about it. You can see a blog I set up to use as a book discussion and then abondoned it, when I realized it wouldn't meet my needs (I deleted the questions and moves them) and a book discussion we are going to use using a threaded discussion. Aslo you can see my students blog here. Let me know if you need any more ideas--bottom line, the blog is a tool to improve writing and communication so it would be "different" not "more", N.
Hi Adam,
I would think you've got it here:
"... imagine that initially I would have to provide a strong structure for them, but ultimately I would want them to freely express their thoughts with each other. I would want them to write about things that they are curious about, what they are thinking about a character or the plot etc..."
That operational framework has worked for me: start out structured, loosen the structure when the kids show they're ready to step up to bat. Then they start giving the assignments for the group, or defining their own personal assignments. At many points you'll have to have a talk about the standards students should aim for. Ask the students to define the quality that everyone is aspiring to. Keep allowing the students to "have the reins" (I'm mixing metaphors) and keep helping them define the sense of purpose in all the learning.
Good questions! No set answers, just explorations. Share what you learn!
I am on hold with my district for permission to use CBM, but blogging is definitely something I would like to use (hopefully sooner rather than later) with my students. My initial vision is to use it as an extension of a writer's notebook (go here to read more).

Earlier today, I came across this more specific reading/writing blog lesson posted by another edublogger. I suspect that she will have more wonderful ideas cropping up throughout the year.

This is a fantastic topic, and I look forward to reading more about what you find out and what other teachers have to say.
Thank you everyone! I am excited and yet intimidated at the same time, so I figure that's a good start.

Nancy and Ms. Whatsit, thanks for the links. They were very informative and useful. Back to work I go!
Hey Adam,

I'm the blogger over at http://middle-school-teacher.blogspot.com/. I'm completely new to blogging with my students this year. Let me know what I can do to help and perhaps we can make the learning curve less steep!
Hello Adam, lots of great suggestions to get you started already - here's mine :)
I always start off by looking at lots of blogs with my students, talking about what is effective, the types of questions asked, the types of activities that are being undertaken.
We look at commenting and responses and come up with our class "3 Star Comments" rubric so that our comments are positive and valuable.
This gives everyone a chance to visualise what is possible on a blog, you can point out the types of activities you will be asking your students to undertake, you can compare positive and not-so-positive responses and your whole class will be "starting on the same page" as far as your expectations and the purpose of the blog and blogging activities.
I know that when you are keen to start you just want to jump in and begin, but I have found this talking about blogs with my students really sets the groundwork, and when you do start blogging everyone understands why and how :)
Hope this helps.

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