There are some simple tips to making blogging an integral part of the classroom programme. Start off by practicing yourself - make sure that you know exactly how to login and post blogs yourself before trying to get your students to attempt it! Here are a few ideas for getting started:
- Choose the platform you are using carefully - make sure that the platform for your blog is (a) simple enough for the students; (b) interesting enough to keep them interested and (c) easy for you to manage as the administrator
- Explicitly teach HOW to blog - this is pretty simple: we call it the 3 T's in my class. Title, text and take a photo. The reason we have the third T is that with the whole creative commons issues, it's vital that our students know how to take a quality photo of their own and upload it to their posts. This means that they will never have any comeback with the images that they use.
- Explicitly teach HOW to comment - just as we as educators have learned the value of feedback and HOW to give rich, reflective commentary to learning in our classrooms, so we need to teach our students the value of their voice. Look at 2 positives and one question: I tell my students to make a comment about something they read that they find interesting or can connect to, and one comment about something else, then they ask a question. This automatically invites a rapport between reader and writer, something that creates a connection, which is a powerful vehicle for learning.
- Give the blogs an authentic purpose - a blog is not just there to be a blog. The blog needs a purpose, one which is real and rich in its content. Do you want the students to blog as part of their personal reflections? Do you want the blog to be a forum for writing? Do you want the blog to be a class record of their learning over each week? Is the blog for a short time, such as a blog used during the Olympics? Decide the purpose together, collaboratively, and then decide on how it will be organised, managed and who is responsible for what.
- Create a blog agreement - just like a class treaty, we have a class blogging agreement which we brainstormed together at the start of the year. When we are blogging, there are occasions when we have to come back to it and look at the agreements we made about being responsible bloggers. When kids sign their names to something like this, it means that accountability is pretty simple!
- Make it a part of your plan - when you start blogging, make it a part of the fabric of your class programme. Wrap it into everything that you do. Use the language of blogging as often as you can. Find your tech-sperts as soon as you can and hand the power to them. The students will learn more from each other and from just doing it than they will from a series of lessons.
- Give them a voice - get your blog out there on twitter or Facebook and get people commenting! Join a quadblog and get traffic through on the blog so that the students get the feeling of an authentic audience.
Once you start, you will never look back. Enjoy!