Sunday 28 August 2011

How to Start Blogging with Students

Do you want to start blogging with your students but don`t quite know where to start?

When I first read about blogs and teachers blogging with students, I tried to set up a plan so that I could introduce blogs gradually both for students and teachers. So I have decided to share my ideas in this blog post as I know many teachers feel overwhelmed by the concept of blogging.

My usual recommendation is that, as a teacher, you cannot introduce any technology tool in class unless you are familiar with it. So with that in mind, it is important that you familiarize yourself with blogs first as a user before you introduce them in class.

Step 1: Commenting on a blog (teachers)
Find a few blogs you really like and make it a habit of commenting.

Step 2: Making your own blog
Set up a blog to experiment with. The main purpose of the blog could be sharing professional experiences among the teachers, but it can also be a space for more personal musings or a digital journal.
The blog you are now reading was conceived with this idea in mind.

Step 3: Building a repository of materials using a blog
Create a collection of resources for your students by posting them to a blog.
  •  a collection of videos to be used and reused with different classes
  • a set of pictures to be used as discussion prompts

Step 4: Making a blog-based lesson
Choose a lesson that would benefit from the use of technology and use a blog to present it to students.  Have a look at two blog-based lessons I prepared a while ago on Friendship and ConspiracyTheories.

So far, students have only accessed the blogs to see the materials, they have not been asked to comment or blog themselves.

Step 5: Commenting on a blog (students)
Find and interesting blog from a colleague or class and ask students to read it and comment. Alternatively you can use a blog of your own, for example the ones in steps 2 and 3, and ask students to leave comments.
Now, they have moved from passive recipients of content to a bit more interactive users.

Step 6: Building a class blog
Build a blog for a particular class or project and have students writing and posting to this one blog. In this case, you need to give them editing permission but they do not have to make their own blog.
This step stretches students’ responsibility a bit more as they become authors in the class blog.
Have a look at this example of a blog I made for students to write film reviews.

Step 7: Building individual personal blogs
The last step is having students make their own blogs and manage them. You can guide the students’ postings or you can give them freedom to use the blog as an expressive platform for anything they want to write about. In this last step, you can benefit from using RSS to monitor your students’ blogs.

This is a quick guide to RSS, which I will be addressing in more detail soon… 

Also, these are  detailed step by step videos for using Blogger by Russell Stannard in his amazing Teacher Training Videos website.

Hope you have found some useful ideas to get you started!
If you have other ideas you are most welcome to share them in the comments.