You have a Class Blog – Now what?

 

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http://langwitches.org/

I spend a fair bit of time as an eLearning Coach talking to teachers and helping them set up class blogs. This is a common and wonderful first step towards opening classrooms to the outside world, sharing practice, collaborating, modelling cybersafe behaviours, digital writing skills and much more. The value of class blogs is the topic for another post and is well summarised by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano in the graphic above (if you want any further information on blogging Silvia’s blog should be your first stop!) .

I have found that there is a point at which teachers struggle to move on – they learn the mechanics of blogging, most often making their blogs a wonderful showcase of classroom activities. They get a small audience, mainly from parents and their local school community. Then the enthusiasm wains as the feedback circle ceases or remains small. They see blogging as an extra activity to their daily routine not one embedded into their practice which has clear purpose and direction.

These are the ideas I then present :

Use blog as a reflective tool. Simple classroom activities where you take the last 5-10 minutes of the day to reflect on an activity and note the learning that has taken place – scribe the students words. Openly create the post with the students (modelling writing and reflective language) creating a chronicle of their learning and hopefully their wonderings too – these conversations happen anyway – blogs allow you to record it and share it . A great example here using an embedded shared Google Slide (thanks to Michelle Scott)

Using blog posts for shared reading and writing in place of a big book etc., simple transferral of everyday tasks into the digital space.

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Many teachers do not know how to create a network, how to connect their class with others. Publicising posts via email to families and ensuring all class blogs have links to each others blogs are important starting points. Remember it is a blog not a poster on your wall – use the benefit of Blogrolls and links to connect.

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Finding other class blogs and starting relationships with them by commenting and leaving links back – a bit like introducing yourself to someone you don’t know at a party ! Once a connection is made and it may even be with the class next door or down the street, you can agree to support each other by regular visits and comments, ensuring an audience for your writing. Slide5

There are websites such as Quadblogging , which will partner you up with other class bloggers around the world. Each class takes a weekly turn to be the recipient of support. Amazing connections have been started through this method.

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I think I will have to say that I believe Twitter is the best way to connect your blog to a wide audience. Amongst the Twitter world there is a supportive community ready to respond when teachers ask for feedback. Using hashtags such as #comments4kids ensures an audience. Admittedly, not every tweet translates into a comment or connection but I have seen amazing results from teachers who use Twitter to encourage an audience. More information on comments for kids here . Some teachers use their own accounts or create a specific class Twitter account to share their class news and posts. Slide7Activities such as the Student Blogging challenge which can be participated in by individual students or by classes is another method. The Challenge appoints voluntary mentors to students as well as actively teaches and encourages students to apply quality commenting skills when responding to other students posts.

Slide8I think that summarises some of the tactics that can work to move classroom blogging to the global level and extend the reach of the message.  Do you have any other ideas???

 

11 Responses

  1. Mrs Verona Gridley says:

    Beautifully written Celia.
    This is a fabulous post and I am sure it will encourage many teachers to continue their blogging and develop their class blogs further. 🙂
    Verona Gridley

  2. Miss W. says:

    Great post Celia.
    I love all those posters and images created by Silvia.
    At my next teaching session re blogging, is it OK to refer them to your post?

  3. ccoffa says:

    Thanks Sue,
    Silvia has an amazing ability to synthesise ideas in her images. I love them too. Happy for you use anything of use.
    Happy travels !
    Celia

  4. Cathy says:

    Celia,
    This is a helpful post. Audience matters and Twitter is the best way, in my opinion, to connect to an audience. It also helped me to not just think of a classroom blog, but instead a classroom HUB that connects students, families, and world. My families know everything is linked from our home base. I’ve also tried to shift the blog to “shared blogging” with students. They help with message and consider audience. I have found Weebly to be perfect for allowing me to see our site beyond blogging.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Cathy

  5. ccoffa says:

    Thanks Cathy,
    I agree, the more you involve the students in the blogging the better. The HUB idea is great too!
    Regards

    Celia

  6. Marisa Matthys says:

    Thanks Celia, This is exactly what our staff require; Where to next? (in terms of building up a network). The staff will then understand the purpose of blogging and how the audience can support the learning too.
    We look forward to your visit and sharing your ideas and strategies.
    Kind regards
    Marisa

  7. Carol Williams says:

    Hi Celia,
    I’ve tried to include my class in my blog but only a handful of students are interested in commenting or participating on it using activities. I’ve put class and homework activities on it and replied back to students. I don’t have much time in being able to put links up every time I do it doesn’t work so I still need more practise and help. I feel loke I’m always asking other teachers to help with learning activities. Then the students who don’t have the internet at home can’t access the blog. It seems to be when I use it at school the only time that students actually use it. I really want to become competent but with all the other teaching demands especially being in a new level I really struggle with the time.

  8. Jannine says:

    It’s so easy to set up a blog, but knowing how to maintain it and make it an authentic part of the students’ learning is where I’ve been stuck. Your suggestions are spot-on and have given me a compass for my classroom. Thanks!

  9. ccoffa says:

    Hi Carol
    I understand that we can try multiple tactics and still feel like the effort is not worth the results and feedback we are getting. Have you tried connecting with other classes ? Our teachers loved the feedback they got from other classes with they commented on each others posts, then the kids got involved as well. I truly believe it is worth the effort as it has so many benefits for the kids -: digital citizenship, collaboration, writing for an audience etc
    Celia

  10. David says:

    Hi. I love this post as there are so many great ideas. How do you overcome the fear of Twitter? I am just a recent convert but if you mention the word Twitter and students in the same sentence most a load starts to shake their heads with a terrified look in their eyes. I actually have no idea how to keep Twitter safe for my students. An experienced teacher who now uses Twitter that I met once had a problem when he first started using it where a students Twitter account started getting pornographic tweets. I have lots of ideas for using Twitter but keeping it safe and overcoming parents fears is a big difficulty. Not to mention administrators. Anything online even blogs are generally met with apprehension. I really want to implement these things this year so any tips you could offer would be great.

  11. ccoffa says:

    Thanks David,
    Twitter does have a bit of poor reputation but as with all Social media can have amazing power. Firstly, I will say that I work with primary (elementary) aged students who cannot have their own accounts as they are under 13. As teachers we run a school account and a few class accounts – managed and run by teachers. The students are able to see how we model positive use of the tool to connect and share. We mainly use it to connect to other stakeholders eg parents, education providers in museums, libraries etc. and of course other interested educators. Hope that clarifies things ?

    Celia

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