Sara, We have a student blog created with Drupal called A Really Different Place. I have nothing to add to what Cathy had to say, I agree with her, but thought you might like to look around our blog. Sometimes I start a conversation but most of the time time the kids ignore me and discuss what they want!!
We use blogs in a number of ways with our middle school students:
- A way to share book reports/writing assignments/science prac write ups
- Reflective journals on work they're doing f2f
Our blogs are set up through our managed space - which means tracking is simple. But I get the impression Edublogs is pretty easy to use and was established to support schools looking to do this sort of thing.
First, does each student have a blog? If you have a blog and they only leave comments, then you are blogging but they are not. So, consider giving them their own individualized and flexible writing space. You can quickly create up to 15 blogs at a time in Edublogs.
Blogging can be used in any number of ways. It can be used to form a reading discussion
forum or literature circle, post short current events articles and invite students’ thoughts, fos-
ter communication among multiple classes, serve as a student progress log on a lab or research
assignment, post photos and homework assignments online, and more.
Seven Activities to do with Your Class Blog: 1. Post a homework question
a. Each student writes a one-paragraph response.
b. Read a few before class to see what your students think about the reading.
c. You can require students to respond not only to the reading, but to each other’s
responses as well. 2. Start a discussion
a. Pose a question and require that students post at least three contributions to a discus-
sion over the course of a week, or more contributions over the course of a unit. 3. Invite outsiders to comment on student work
a. If you know the author of a book you are reading, have students write feed-
back and have the author respond.
b. Have students or tteachers from another school comment on your students’ work. 4. Have students post discussion questions for tomorrow’s class
a. This is great when you know you won’t have time to plan.
b. If you know that you’ve flubbed a class and students are confused, have them
post questions about things they don’t understand. 5. Have students post their notes for the day
a. Assign one student per day to be the scribe for the class. This is great for
discussion-based classes where you want students to focus on the discussion
and not have to worry about taking notes. 6. Post progress reports on team projects
a. Students can post their work to the blog so that others can see what they are
doing. They can also comment on each other’s work.
b. If faculty are trying to work as a team or core group, use a blog to communi-
cate with each other about lessons, etc. 7. Have students create their own blogs for any independent study
a. Have students post an outline of their week’s work before our weekly meeting.
Keep in mind that If blogging is presented as a peripheral activity, with little or no direct connection to your regular class instruction, it will be of limited effectiveness. I'd recommend you think beyond that first blogging assignment and plan out several regularly scheduled blogging assignments with clear goals. Many bloggers—teachers or otherwise—start with a flurry of posts and then stop blogging; plan for regular blog activities, even if it’s just every two weeks.
Thanks for this list Tom. I'm just entering the world of "blogging" for the first time, and can see that there could be many ways to use blogs with students, but your list has really helped given me some useful starting points. Thanks again!
My kids use blogging to talk about the self-selected books they are reading, or to discuss their book clubs. You can look at our blog for ideas: http://maggie-kidstalkbooks.blogspot.com/.
Blogging has really changed my teaching. This fall students worked in small groups to create blogs about body systems, and my kids just finished a personal quest project in which each made their own blog and researched an area of personal interest.
Maggie, thanks for sharing this. I created a blog months ago to do this but alas it is still empty!! So much to do, so little time. I only see my kids one day a week so I have to make choices--I do hope to get the book review blog up and running--maybe next year!
One reason I didn't jump write in? I wanted to teach the kids how to write a review, never got to that either.
The art - and I'm convinced it's an art - of fine blogging is an excellent challenge. I created a class blog for the purpose of running with various thoughts that come up in class, but we never have time to fully explore because of time limitations. I also wanted a place for students to bring up issues that relate to social studies (which is nearly everything) and have them slow down, use introspection, and, well, think.
The results have varied. A good bit of drivel, some diamond posts, some kids get it. Mostly it's been my problem - my failure to articulate what makes good blogging. I'm constantly changing my rubric.
Still, it's a worthy goal. I'm hoping to eventually have the assignment refined!
Zach, I agree. I don't know what the missing link is--I blogged about my frustrations a while back. Our class blog can have many posts, but none of them thought provoking...still trying to decide whether to continue or not. N.