Blogging. Without question one of the most powerful ways to communicate in the 21st century. The question becomes, how can we effectively put this incredible tool into the hands of our students?
This is the question I asked myself as I was trying to do just that. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to get started, but I knew three things. I knew I wanted to build my student’s digital literacy skills, I wanted them to collaborate and connect with each other and the world, and I wanted my students to have their own digital space that they could call their own.
After finding my way, I can honestly say that blogging has become a truly authentic and meaningful learning opportunity that has given even my quietest student a voice. If you are interested in blogging with your students, but just aren’t sure how to jump in, here are a few tips I have learned along the way:
There are many platforms out there for blogging, the most popular being Blogger, KidBlog, and EduBlog.
Personally, I use Blogger with my students, which is powered by Google. Being in a GAFE school district, I loved how seamlessly it integrated with my student’s Google accounts, and all of the personalization it provided for them. Investigate your options, and decide which platform would work the best for you and your students.
Blogging, like anything else you would introduce to your students, should be a progression of learning and needs to be explicitly taught. I like to start as small as paper blogging (there’s nothing wrong with a little low-tech!). I also found it beneficial to have a class blog before students get individual blogs of their own.
With a class blog, the teacher can model the ins and outs of blogging and teach essential mini-lessons on concepts like how to comment appropriately, how to engage your audience, and how to make your posts meaningful.
It is crucial to avoid the ‘one and done’ approach and make sure you teach and promote Digital Citizenship to your students throughout the year.
Technology can be an amazing tool to empower our students, but Digital Citizenship needs to go hand in hand. Students need to be aware and fully understand how and why to use technology appropriately. Free Digital Citizenship curriculums, like the ones from Common Sense Media and Google are excellent resources that make it easy for teachers to incorporate all year.
In order for your students to have an authentic blogging experience, they need to have choice in what and how they blog. Encourage students to ask questions, research, and communicate their ideas about topics they are passionate about.
It may be beneficial to give them suggestions as they are getting started, however don’t box them into teacher directed topics. This should be a place where students can share and celebrate their voice and take ownership over their learning. In the process, you are gaining insight about who they are personally and building valuable relationships with your students.
5. MAKE CONNECTIONS
It is important to provide an authentic audience for your students. Encourage students to collaborate, and make connections with one another, cultivating digital conversation through commenting. In my experiences, I have found that students are more likely to put forth effort and take ownership of what they are putting out there, when they know they have an audience.
With that being said, share your student’s blogs! Invite other students, educators, parents, community members, and the world to celebrate your student’s writing with them!
DIVE RIGHT IN
If you are thinking about incorporating blogging into your classroom, I challenge you to take the risk and go for it! Immersing my students into the world of blogging has been an incredible and rewarding learning experience for not just my students, but for myself as well.
If you are interested in taking your student blogging to the next level, stay tuned for my next post on connecting communities through QuadBlogging.