Thursday, July 12, 2012

Updated: My fully incomplete rough draft list of essentials for student blogging

This is my "in-progress" post to organize my thoughts on student blogging.  If you have ideas of things I have left out, please comment.  I would like to have as much of it "together" before the year begins, so now is the time to work out the kinks!

See some ISTE sessions (where a lot of these ideas came from) on Blogging here and here

Some other blogs to check out for info/experiences:

Why Blog in Education? (taken from post here)

  • Here are some of the main reasons why teachers and educators should consider blogging as an educational medium :
    • Students enjoy blogging
    • Blogging enhances literacy skills
    • Using a blog makes learning independent of time  and place
    • It gets students engaged and boost their motivation
    • It promotes their communication skills
    • Just like other asynchronous media, blogs give time to students to reflect
    • It makes teaching students oriented
    • It emphasizes the " test and learn" and " learning by doing" strategies instead of " plan and execute " ones
    • It fosters the learning bonds between teachers and students
    • It gives a chance to shy students to participate with their peers and get their voice heard
    • It keeps parents updated about their kids progress
    • It enhances home-school links
    • It gives students a genuine and potentially worldwide audience for their work.
    • Blogging gives students ownership over their own learning and an authentic voice allowing them to articulate their needs and inform their learning.
    • It contributes to identity-formation in students
    • Blogging  helps teachers develop professionally
    • It fosters the development of writing and research skills as well as digital skills.
  • Why?
    • Communicate verbally about math
    • Write for an audience
    • Revise work based on critique
    • Takes critical thinking to give quality comments

Teaching the Process of Blogging to Students:
  • Logistics and steps to setting up a blog
    • Screencast the process
    • Sign up as a class in the library if possible
  • Internet Safety!
    • ??? What exactly to go over?
  • Introduce parents to blogging
    • Mrs. Morris posts about that here
  • Give them "tips for a good blog" in general as well as "tips for a good blog" just for my class
  • Learning to blog using paper.  A MUST-READ from Karen McMillan (McTeach) here
  • Process of starting to blog:
    • Start with commenting on class blog
    • Then with posts on class blog
    • Then with own blog (parents or teacher is the administrator of those blogs)
  • Tangible Blogging (a way to start teaching/training students about blogging)
    • Idea from Brian Bennett - thanks!
    • Day 1: Students write half-page blog post on real paper; Post around room
    • Day 2: Each student gets four sticky notes; Comment on "blog posts" from around the room
    • Day 3: Students go back to original blog posts and look through comments
Expectations/Rules/Guidelines/Tips for student:
  • Privacy issues
    • Never use last name
    • Don't have students post personal stuff (where they are going, where they like to hang out, etc)
    • Never pair a face with a name
  • What sort of images can students post.  How will they not infringe on copywrite?
  • Sample Class Blog guidelines here and here
    • The following guidelines are from 

      To use the blog, you must agree to the following statements.

      • I will not use any curse words or inappropriate language.
      • I will not use fighting words or provoke anyone.
      • I will avoid the use of chat language.
      • I will try to spell everything correctly.
      • I will only give constructive criticism.
      • I will not use my full name, or the name of my classmates.
      • I will not plagiarize.
  • Rules for posting
    • Use proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure to the best of your ability
    • Always proofread before posting
  • Rules for commenting
    • Connect with the reader
    • Ask a question back (create conversation)
    • Teaching students to write quality comments - great points on this blog post
  • Important parts of the blogging process include encouraging students to:
    1. Read each others posts
    2. Interact and comment on each others posts by challenging each others thoughts and views
    3. Write posts in response to each others posts
  • Tips for student blogging - taken from Mrs. Morris' post here 
    • Write posts semi-regularly such as every week or two. People might not have a chance to read posts that are published too close together. Readers might forget about your blog if you leave too long of a gap between posts.
    • Write about something that you are interested in but also something that will interest others. I will write more about chosing post topics in an upcoming post.
    • Reply to all/most of your commenters. Readers will be encouraged to comment again if their comment is acknowledged or if they engaged in a conversation.
    • Don’t overdo glitter text and keep fonts consistent and easy to read. Yellows and fluro colours are generally very hard to read.
    • If you want to use images, use creative commons images, screenshots or your own photos/artwork. I have written about teaching students to use creative commons images here.
    • Make posts easy to read. Left aligning text, using paragraphs, subheadings and/or dot points all helps the reader take in your post more easily.
    • Experiment with web 2.0 tools to make your posts interactive and engaging. In the past, I have explicitly taught students about some tools and also encouraged them to find their own new tools that meet their needs.
    • End posts with questions to provide readers with commenting prompts. Formulating questions that a variety of readers could answer is a skill that we like to help our students develop.
    • Proofread and check your facts before publishing. One of my student bloggers recently wrote a post about my upcoming visit to the USA without checking his facts. He wrote that I was going to stay at one of Linda Yollis‘ student’s houses! This was definitely a teachable moment.
    • From comments section of this post:
      • consider their audience and not assume that everyone has the same background knowledge
  • Tips for student blogging - taken from the blog post here
    • here are some tips to keep in your mind before you get started :
      • Choose the easiest platform for you and your students and one with which you are familiar. Chances are your students might already have blogs, ask them which platform they like and use it for your classroom.
      • Ask for parents permission
      • Teach students about online safety. Check out this article for resources
      • Teach students how to comment properly.
      • Posts should always be short and informative. It is better to start with an introduction of themselves and get them to write comments on each others posts.
      • Use simple language and correct grammatical structures
      • Invite parents to contribute in your class blog and get them to comment too
      • If you have blogs of other classes or you know of similar blogs then get them connected and let students build their communities
      • Give students some freedom to explore the blog
      • Don't grade. Blogging is meant to be a way to practice writing for an audience and learning to respond to critique, not a graded paper.
      • Challenge students. Use activities and games and inspire your students to write about certain topics
      • Give it more time. If you think all students would straight away fall in love with  your classroom blog then you are wrong. Some students  take to it right away, others are  not so sure, and yet they will all end up loving it.
Guidelines/thoughts for teacher:
  • Everything is moderated by the teacher...  (how? Do I want to be an admin for each blog? Does a post go thru me before it's public?)
  • Give parents access to their students' blogs as well (I have a feeling many of them won't really care, but I think it's important to fully inform them and give them that access should they choose to use it)
  • Subscribe to student blogs and comments with RSS reader
  • Check with district and school for policies (in process)
  • Put together class guideline samples on their blogs
    Concerns and Hold-ups

    • from Carolyn: 
      • 1. Worried that I cannot keep with the admin. aspect. I had a teacher show me how she organized them all in Goggle and it did look very organized, but it looked like A LOT of time (and clicking). So this one scares me :)
      • 2. Also want to students to have a place to share privately (if they need to) so I wonder would I still keep a paper journal. Or would some posts they make be just for me to read? 

    What they will blog about (some are math specific):

    Ideas from others:
    • Solve a problem and explain their solution
    • One person starts a problem, next person has to respond to that with a solution... next person continues on, fixes the mistake, etc 
    • Beginning of the year blog
      • Students write about their expectations for the year
      • Goals and dreams for the year (September; revisit in January and June) 
    • From Cheryl: "real world connection" to your blog topics. Like any time they use/see an example of how math or problem solving is used IRL, they could explain it and talk about the principle behind it - like the statistics of gambling, or the geometric shapes in nature. It could even spin out into student-driven projects to find more information in their "free" time, either at home or school. 
    • From
    • Responding to and commenting on curriculum topics as we study them
    • Creating written projects/ media projects and commenting on each other’s work
    • Reviewing and sharing study strategies before tests and quizzes
    • Practicing taking varied points of view on a topic
    • Discussing current events
    • Making classroom suggestions
    • Creating FAQ pages on curriculum topics
    Ideas from me:
    • Beginning of the year thoughts and goals
    • Mid-Year and End-of-Year goals and evaluations
    • Reflections on Units (normally I have them do a handwritten PMI, I could have them do this on the blog instead)
      • P = Plusses - what did you do really well on this chapter, what did you understand the most, etc
      • M = Minuses - what did you struggle with this chapter, what do you still need more help or practice on, etc.
      • I = Interesting - what did you find the most interesting about this chapter?  It can be a specific concept you learned that you really enjoyed, or a learning activity you participated in
    • Special Posts - if I find an interesting article, post, video, etc that I want my students to reflect and respond to.
    • School-Wide Writing - we do this 4x a year and I could have my students post their essays online instead of turning them in on paper. I would want to provide a way for students to submit it privately as well if it is a prompt that might be somewhat personal.
    • Student's Learning Playlists via - Playlists of student-created content.  Don't know if I want this organized by unit, just put on the class blog, or put on each individual blog... gotta think about that one!
    • Student's curated content  via - playlists of content that students have found.  Again, I'm not sure if I want this to be a "class playlist" where everyone contributes, or if I want each student to have their own playlist that they can add to as they find things to help them. (They can add things to their playlist that they like from other students)
    • (Math Analysis only) - Student's WPP's - I would have students create a page for this playlist to be on and they would add to it throughout the year.
    • Students creating their own playlist of information with a purpose (to teach a concept, for example), and they must bring in lots of different types of media to do so.


    1. Good stuff. I wouldn't have thought to have math students blog, but I can totally see the value in it.

      I wonder if you couldn't add something like "real world connection" to your blog topics. Like any time they use/see an example of how math or problem solving is used IRL, they could explain it and talk about the principle behind it - like the statistics of gambling, or the geometric shapes in nature. It could even spin out into student-driven projects to find more information in their "free" time, either at home or school.

      I dont know that I'm going to be able to track all my students' blogs. I am teaching a writing-focused class, so I want them to be blogging, but I am questioning the value of having them all have their own site. If we had a class site, they would all have to see each other's work when they went to post, and that would lead to automatic discussion and collaboration. It occurs to me that maybe Andrew and I can talk about joint student blogging (I'm writing this here so I won't forget...sorry).

      So much for sleep, eh cheesebucket?

      1. Great idea :) Adding it to my edited post!

        One of my thoughts is the blog would also be a great place to just host a personal digital portfolio of progress throughout the year. The two sessions I went to ISTE were from elementary teachers having their kids blog, but I think it's applicable in high school as well. It's also an authentic way to have them writing, which I like (especially in math :))

        I think it would be awesome if you and Andrew did joint student blogging. I am hoping to have my student blogs read by other students/ people (if I can find another math class blogging, that would be amazing) because I think when students know others are reading it, that raises it up a level.

        Sleep... can't do it when ideas are running thru my head. must blog. :) Got to bed before2am though!

    2. GEAT ideas! Last year was my first year to use blogging with my students so I am up for some ideas on how to improve it. I liked the goal setting throughout the year; that will definitely be added to my list. I also liked the suggestions for getting started as I don't think I did a very good job of that last year. Thanks for the tips!

      1. Thanks! Still got a lot of thinking to go through...
        What did you have your students blog about? What would say worked, and what would you say needs definite improvement?

    3. Hi Crystal...

      In Kidblog, I have my student's blogs moderated just for their comments. When I log in and click the control panel, I can select pending comments and they all show up on one screen. I quickly scroll down to make sure everything is appropriate then click all the comments and apply as approved. I have found this to be manageable over the summer. All the posts also go under one page, so I can click through and read through their posts. I use their classroom blogs for their individual thoughts and writing, but if I have something I want them to respond to they comment right under my post. One suggestion would be to assign different groups to different days for posting so you don't have to look at all your groups at once. I do plan to have students "earn" their blogs through their posting on the class website first. I also signed up to quadblog this year. I like the idea of them working on a global project and collaborating with others around the world.

      I plan to work on my introduction lessons next week, I will be teaching it to both my cores. The big thing I have to do is make sure to get parents to sign the tech agreement for our school at our Meet and Greet, because technically they aren't supposed to use a laptop until they fill it out. I also plan to have them fill out their tech survey during that time too!


      1. Hi Tina,
        Thanks for the comment :). i've heard about QuadBlogging and want to look into it as well.
        Since you are going to have students "earn" their blog, at what point during the school year do you think all of your students will have individual blogs?


    4. Just commented, hit publish and it vanished, grrrr!!
      My 2 hold ups to start blogging.
      1. Worried that I cannot keep with the admin. aspect. I had a teacher show me how she organized them all in Goggle and it did look very organized, but it looked like A LOT of time (and clicking). So this one scares me :(
      2. Also want to students to have a place to share privately (if they need to) so I wonder would I still keep a paper journal. Or would some posts they make be just for me to read?
      Sorry for sharing only hurdles, but this have been road-blocking me for awhile.
      I have on my list to explore "Digital Portfolios" and maybe these will suit what I am looking for (blogs could be these as well).
      As always thanks for asking the question and getting the conversation started :)

      1. Thanks for the thoughts :). I am adding a section in the edited blog for Concerns/ Hold-ups. Those are all important things to consider. The admin aspect is a huge concern for me, so I really need to figure that out.
        I'm thinking that for sharing privately, they could password protect it and only give me the password (that would be a lot of passwords for me though!!). I'm not sure if they can make it so as long as I am logged in to my account I can see it without a password. I'd have to look into that.

        Thanks again :)

    5. I like the idea of blogs as reflections. I second the concern of having to keep up with appropriate posting/administration. I know I use my google reader to follow many blogs - educational, crafty, foody, etc and I get about 100 posts each day. If I did have students blog, but then didn't "grade" the posts for content would make it easier, but how would they be assessed? Using the reflections as a way of assessing student learning seems to be the goal, but what rubric could you use to assess them?

      1. There is a link to a blogging rubric way at the top of the post. I'm thinking that SOME posts would be graded, but most would just be "complete" or "not complete", encouraging them to do some writing, reflecting, etc and seeing the process grow as they get used to it. Since this will be my first year doing it, I really have no idea what to expect or what pitfalls there will be. We'll see!!!

    6. You've clearly been thinking about this! I would make sure you talk to your AP of Curriculum to make sure he's on board. Your AP of Discipline will be able to be your devil's advocate for what possible trouble issues you might encounter! We'll talk soon!

      1. Good points! I'm waiting to hear back from the tech people at the district (on vacation until this coming Monday) before I put too many plans in place. But, I will definitely get my admin on board. They are very supportive of pretty much everything I do, including the flipped classroom, so I am sure they will support me and help me out in this new adventure :)


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