Want to Blog With Students? How to Get Started

blogging pic

Have you thought about blogging with students?

Image my surprise the first time I blogged with students — within a week or two the quality of their writing improved. The students responded to teacher posts on a variety of topics, with mostly spontaneous, but well thought-through contributions. That was when I understood for the first time that when students write on a blog for an audience that offers prompt feedback, they learn about the topic and also about collaboration and digital citizenship.

To blog with your students, consider the following:

  • Determine what topics do you want to appear on your blog. Is it going to focus on one curriculum unit, a subject strand, or will it be a class project for the year? Will the teacher be the only one who works with students on the blog or will other teachers who teach other subjects also contribute and collaborate.  When we started blogging with third graders, we discovered, after the first few months of blogging, that the students wanted to originate some of the posts.
  • Choosing a blogging site can be tricky. If a school runs a course web system, it may come with a blogging component that is already integrated into the online class system. Here at school, our course management system, MyGDS, includes a WordPress blog option, though it works best for older students.

If the MyGDS WordPress component, for one reason or another does not work for students, check out two other blogging sites. Both collect limited information about young users and do not use the information for purposes other than making their blogging systems stronger and more secure. After setting up a blog, both sites offer the teacher a link to the course website, allowing easy student access to the blog. While the privacy policies do not specifically mention the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), they convey a  robust commitment to student learning and privacy.  Interestingly WordPress powers both blogging sites.

  • Kidblog is set up as private, user-friendly, and easily accessible to young users, but as tune passes it’s possible to open up blogging access to include other people or classes. To get started a teacher signs up, creates a blog, and then enrolls students, usually by first name and password. Each child’s contributions are a part of his or her personal blog. At its most private, no one but the teacher and students can see and use the blog. KidBlog privacy policy
  • Edublogs, another site with free blogs, may be more flexible for older elementary students, and with its good privacy options teachers can determine just how public student writing should be. Edublogs has phenomenal resources and support materials, and for a fee blogging access can be upgraded to EdublogPro, which offers greater flexibility and more content options to teachers and students. Edublog privacy policy

A Few Getting Started Recommendations

  • Take time to set up the blog, looking at it from the perspective of the students who will be visiting and writing. A good theme invites students to join in and become bloggers.
  • Introductions to blogging should include a class discussion about etiquette and careful commenting. Several years ago, on another blog I wrote Conversations on Commenting, a post that outlines a few of the important points to cover with students. Expect to review the commenting and digital citizenship issues more than once.
  • Moderating student comments is a good idea. This presents a teacher with opportunities to review contributions, suggest changes and edits to a student, and initiate individual discussions with students who need a review about class commenting expectations.
  • At the beginning build regular time during the day for blog writing. Thereafter it possible to blog as a part of assignments and projects.

Families can also set up and write for blogs. Check out a “class-on-a-blog” that I started about family blogging.

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One Response

  1. […] Ask students to write, share, and respond — again and again. Set up a blog using KidBlog, WordPress, or Edublog and conduct at least one writing assignment per unit on the blog, helping students understand that writing well online is a critical skill to develop and extremely different from writing online for entertainment. What is a blog? […]

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