How can teachers start blogging in the classroom so that it is safe for students?
Tips for Teachers:
Whether you teach younger or older school students, your classroom stands to benefit from blogging. It’s a great way to increase student engagement, develop language skills, teach digital citizenship and deepen thinking. It also allows students to take control of their own learning.
However, it’s not something you can just jump into headfirst. I’m as guilty as any other teacher when it comes to having an idea ‘pop in my head’ and just running with it, flying by the seat of my pants! Introducing blogging to your classroom requires some careful planning, so let’s share a few important tips to help you get you started.
Starting Your Own Blog:
The best way to get acquainted with the ‘ins and outs of blogging’ is to start your own blog. Not only will this help you better understand the process and identify potential trouble areas, but it will also allow you to model the process for your students. While you can read my teacher blog guide for details on how to get started, here are a few quick pointers:
- Don’t go with free hosting–I made this mistake with my first teacher blog, and the free hosting site showed some borderline inappropriate ads (but good teachers learn from their mistakes, right?). Turns out self-hosted sites are cheap (~$25 per year) and will allow you to get your own custom domain name (way more professional). Check out ipage.com for a free domain and inexpensive hosting.
- Post reviews and roundups of your lessons on your blog. I often have used my teacher blog as a place for students to go to read up on detailed explanations or reviews of our daily lessons. It can be a complete outline of the lesson, an extra problem to try, or a link to a YouTube video that another teacher has created. This is also great for students who were absent.
- Use your blog to assign projects. The best way to introduce your students to blogging is to show them your blog. Model good blog posts that ask questions and require responses, then have students leave comments to answer. Keep the conversation going by responding to comments (you’re still modelling).
Find a Blogging Platform:
For your student blogs, I advise you use something safe to use like Kidblog.org. Regardless of the age of your students, there are plenty of reasons to contain all their blogs in one place like Kidblog.
- It’s easy to manage. You create classes and can view/manage them all from one dashboard.
- Easily manage comments. The comments section of your student blogs can become hectic. There will be times you may need to delete inappropriate things, or help edit comments. Kidblog makes it easy. You can even comment privately, which is great for personal feedback and grading.
- Control who sees and comments. This is especially important for younger students. You can password protect using Kidblog, which means outsiders can’t comment or even read student blogs if you don’t want them to. But don’t worry, you can give parents access if you want to.
Once it’s time to get started blogging, make sure you set expectations from the beginning. Like anything else in the classroom, failing to set expectations can ensure that your new endeavour is a complete disaster. Expectations should include:
- When students are allowed to blog during class
- What devices they can use (are they allowed to bring their own?)
- Subject matter and focus for blogging
- A blogging outline
- Commenting guidelines.
It’s also wise to allow students to curate their own set of guidelines which helps them become empowered, self-regulate and take ownership.
Blogging can be one of the most engaging activities you ever do in class. And regardless of what subject you teach, blogging has a place, from creative writing to reading response to science research, blogs will help students share their critical thinking and encourage meaningful discussion.
Written by Chris Brantner who has taught in public schools for 11 years. He now shares his love for writing on Scribblrs.com, a site designed to teach the art of blogging.
Have you started blogging in the classroom? Why not share your stories in the comments section below.