Starting Blogging in the Classroom

Blogging by Pupils

There are many ways you can use a blog. Here we are considering a blog where pupils post as part of their learning.

A static website involves a fair bit of work and distances learners from the publishing process. Weblogs allow learners to become more directly involved in the publishing process without delving into time consuming html skills.
  • Allow learners to ‘write the web’ as opposed to reading it.
  • It is another wall display
  • To give the learners a wider (one of the widest) audience for some of their work, increase their sense of ownership and responsibility of their work and gain feedback and co-operation from others. Working in small groups on a shared text encourages peer feedback and co-operation.
  • It allows learners to practice Internet Safety skills in a real way in an environment where their teachers can offer help and support.
  • Hopefully it should inform parents and even allow learners to understand aspects of class life. Scanning down a blog can show a surprisingly wide variety of activities recently covered.
  • For many learners working on the computer still has motivational value and this is surely increased by the fact that we are publishing to a worldwide audience.

How to Start Blogging with pupils

So here is a step by step approach to blogging that might be of use to teachers:

  1. Start Reading some blogs. Often people are introduced to blogging on an inservice, are helped to set up a blog and go off back to the classroom. They might not really have come across blogs before are filled with enthusiasm but do not really know much about the subject. Visit some blogs  reading the front page every couple of days to see what is going on. Follow up interesting posts by visiting the blogs they are posted on and reading other posts there. Try to read a mixture of pupil and professional/teacher blogs. Post some comments to articles you have something to say about or as encouragement/distance marking on pupil blogs.
  2. Test out the blogging system.It is pretty simple to set up a private or public blog in glow, so set up a blog or two and play around with the features (nobody need know;-)). This will take a bit of time, but it will be time saved in the long run. you might want to set up a blog about a subject dear to your heart or one for your cpd (that might be close to your heart;-)). Learn how to upload images and add them to posts. Play with whatever image editing software your children may have in school and make sure you can resize photos without thinking about it. If you have an interest try to upload audio and video to your blogs.
  3. Set up a blog for your class

How to Create a Glow blog.

  1. Start whole class blogging Work with large screen and the whole class using the blog as a place for shared writing, thus will be familiar to yourself and the class coming to an agreement about the text. It also means you can resize and edit any photos, first before the class are there later with the children. The children will learn the technology, but much more importantly will allow you and the children to set the tone for the blog. I’ve seen a few posts on children’s blogs where they understand the technology but do not realise they are in a public arena, these posts are often poorly thought out, in ‘chat speak’, teachers will have their own ways of suggesting tone, I go for the ‘blog as school excursion’ approach; ‘you are representing your school‘ and explaining the consequences of a world wide audience. Hopefully this audience will become apparent after a few posts.
  2. Networking At this point you might want to start networking and publicising the blog. Again as a whole class activity view other blogs, compose comments and remember to use your blogs url.
  3. Set Rules I’ve never done this, relaying on the last bit and taking things slowly ensuring that the children know the limits, but some folk like to have a set of blogging rules. Google will throw up quite a few sets to think about: classroom blogging rules – Google Search. You probably want to talk about what makes a good comment too. The more time spent on whole class discussion the better. I’ve noticed that I really need to talk about this stuff again when new children join a class.
  4. Start pairs or individuals posting to the blog Ask a pair of children to report on something, maybe while the class are all writing about an event or trip. Get the children to take the photos that go with the post. You could start a rota of bloggers, a pair being responsible for finding something to blog about and doing so.
  5. Repeat Setps 4- 7 You should be beginning to get an idea of both what you want to use blogs for and what you can use blogs for, watching other blogs will give you good ideas, seeing something on another blog, say a poetry lesson or science experiment, commenting, carrying it out in your own class and blogging that can be pretty nice.
  6. Set up other blogs Try a short term blog where a group of children have responsibility to record and report on a project. A blog for particular activities, book reports or poetry. A trip blog for parents. You might like to set up individual blogs for your class, it has a different set of challenges and rewards from a class blog.
  7. Keep going That is the hard part, finding the time and organisation the children and kit. By this time you will know if blogging is going to be useful in your classroom, if so you will begin to see lots of possibilities opening up, podcasting, video, games, art and animation.

This is quite a time consuming process, the more time spent in the early stages the easier the later ones will become.

Blogging with pupils: Classroom Organisation

  1. Whole class blogging with large screen, this can be a shared writing type of activity with class working together to create post (this could review learning or be an example of a type of text etc). Advantages: Children who are less able writes can be fully involved, you only need one networked computer, a good way to introduce blogging to children. Disadvantages: Need a large screen/smartboard, some children may become disinterested if this is to frequent an activity.
  2. 1 computer per child in media room or suite. Idea in someways, you probably need to give each child some space, their own blog or category. 33 posts on the same topic does not always make an interesting blog. Advantages: children can have a greater sense of ownership and autonomy, make personal contact to other individual bloggers through comments. Disadvantages: consuming of class time a whole session in the suite may be needed for all children to post or even to comment on another classes blog.
  3. Designated individual bloggers. In advance, to schedule or ad-hoc. Advantages: Children have individual ownership of post. Disadvantages: They may be a tendency to favour the more able pupil, pupils miss out on main class activity. With shift to more whole class teaching there may be less opportunity for this to happen.
  4. Designated paired bloggers. In advance, to schedule. Advantages: mutual support, democratic if a rota is used. Disadvantages: less able pupils may just sit in for ride (this may be a good thing, exposing them to good practice etc)
  5. Blogging as homework, need to ensure all have opportunity Blogging ‘outside’ classroom, children may be able to be supervised from afar, chance to concentrate improve. Opportunities to dally may occur.
  6. Children my leave classroom to blog under supervision of another member of staff. I’ve been done this successfully, pairs of bloggers from four classes meet in media room to post about previous days events and learning. It removes organisation and support needs from classroom teacher but may distance class from blog as it is separate from the rest of the class activity.

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