MS Language Arts Teacher
Going to a conference is good for the educator's soul, but going to a tech conference is good for the brain. I was very hopeful when I picked the sessions that I would attend. My first was going to be about blogging. I have dabbled with blogging the last couple of years in my classes. This year my seventh graders have been connected with schools in and out of the U.S, which has been very exciting; however, I feel as though I am just scratching the surface with the possibilities and am looking for greater opportunities. The session on blogging seemed like a perfect chance. What I found was an educator who had some great topics for potential blogs that he uses, success stories about getting quieter students involved in the dialogue by blogging, but his work with high school juniors and seniors and far fewer numbers in a class was not as helpful as I had hoped. His students respond to his question on his blog. They do it in consecutive order rather than all at once, so many are commenting on someone else's post looking at the previous information as a guide rather than a more authentic blog. He uses something like Edmodo for his blogging.
Having said all of that, there were some helpful take-aways. He gave several expectations for blogging that he has incorporated over the years, which I think will be useful next year. They are the following:
1. Establish what is acceptable for content and whether or not students know what is appropriate for classroom. (I will also be including format, GUMPS, etc)
2. Requirements must be clear.
3. Do NOT blog every day. (This is definitely true. Students need variety and depending on class size and purpose, I could never read all posts. I also want the writing to be meaningful.)
4. He sets up a window if time that blogs can actually be posted. (Time requirements have to be made, especially if I expect my students to comment on other posts in
5. Sometimes he has students come up with the questions for the blog. (I think that this is a great idea. It makes the blogging more realistic. Blogs are typically written to discuss a topic that is important to the author of the blog. I have never done this because blogging is pretty new to my seventh graders, but I could incorporate at the end of the year for them. My eighth graders could come up with their own topics at the beginning of the year.
6. Make sure that all blogs are numbered. (My students have a the ability to write a title, which is tell them they must do.
7. Encourage students to ask questions. (I think this is great because when students comment, they will have a built in question to respond to. I also have students incorporate questions in their comments.)
The rule I would add to this list is that teachers need to teach students how to comment appropriately as well. Incorporating that step has helped my students go from commenting about incorrect grammar and punctuation to commenting about the ideas the blogger posted, which really makes valuable conversations between students.
More than anything, this blogging session really gave me the support to show that others are blogging in their classrooms and are successful. I can begin my new school year with additional tips to make blogging run smoother in my classes, but I can continue on this path knowing I am doing something that is not only teaching students a new way of sharing their ideas, but I am also connecting them to students around the world who may be learning about the same topics or may have perspectives that are different because of where they live.