Setting Up Student Blogs

Update –  I wrote a new post about the process for setting up student blogs on 15th January 2012. Click here to find it.

Last term, I set up blogs for two of my Grade Two students. This week, I have been busy working with three more students setting up their individual blogs.

These are the links to my students’ blogs

Lately, a number of people have asked me how I go about setting up blogs for students so I thought I would share my experience.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I like to follow these steps when blogging with my students.

blogging progression

Early in the year we did a lot of work on learning commenting skills. Click here to read more about that.

Halfway through the year I announced to the class that I would be looking for students to earn their own blog.The idea of earning a blog is one of the many blogging tips I got from Linda Yollis.

To earn a blog the students had to…

  • Write quality comments on our class blog on a regular basis.
  • Be committed to replying to comments on our class blog (I believe that it is good blogging etiquette for all bloggers to reply to their readers’ comments).
  • Show an interest in others’ blogs (eg. leave some comments on our blogging buddies’ blogs).
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of cyber safety when writing blog comments and using the internet.
  • Show a general enthusiasm for learning about blogging.
  • Demonstrate some support from their family.

Why don’t all students have blogs?

Blogging is a big responsibility for seven and eight year old students (or individuals of any age for that matter!). The students need to be ready and committed. The support of parents is also essential. I have seen far too many blogs that have been set up enthusiastically but not maintained regularly or simply abandoned after a very short time. While my students are not locked in to blogging forever if they find it is not for them, I want them to be committed to giving it a good shot. I also need to be able to assist and monitor all of my student bloggers. I know I could not do this effectively if all of my students had blogs!

How I set up the blogs

I use the platform Global2 for my class blog. This is an Edublogs Campus Subscription offered by DEECD (Victorian Education Department).

To set up the student blogs, in the dashboard of my class blog I went to Users and then Blog and User Creator. In the set up process I added myself as an administrator which is crucial because I need to be able to access the dashboard of my students’ blogs in case any editing is ever needed.

The students have their own usernames and passwords for their blogs.

The process I followed

1. I asked the students who I thought had earnt their blog if they would like a blog (probably a silly question, it was a definite YES from all of them).

2. I sent a detailed email to the students’ parents explaining how the blog will work, what the students will be responsible for and how I will support their child. I asked them to reply via email so I had their permission in writing. All of my parents were extremely supportive.

3. Once permission was obtained, I set up a school email address for each student and set up their blog.

4. I sat down with the students and discussed their ideas for their blog. We talked about what they think they will post about and how often they will post. I advised them to avoid the temptation to post daily and suggested one quality weekly post would be a good initial goal. We also revised cyber safety tips and discussed what is and is not appropriate to post online (I found with my first two student bloggers there have been a number of authentic opportunities to discuss cyber safety issues as they have gone through the blogging process).

5. The students stayed in one lunch time to get started on their blogs. I started off showing them things like how to change their password, how to change their theme, how to rename their blog, how to use basic widgets, how to add links, how to write a post, how to write a page and how to add hyperlinks in posts/pages.

6. I typed up a document with all the information the students needed to keep at home. This included their email address, blog address, usernames and passwords as well as the links to other blogs, the Edublogs support site and my email address (in case they get stuck at home).

7. The students who started blogging last term have already been great mentors to the students who are just starting with their blogs. Peer to peer tutoring has so many benefits!

8. After the initial set up session, the students just tend to ask me questions as they arise and I subscribe via email to their posts and comments to keep track of what they’re up to.

Final thoughts

Blogging has an incredible number of benefits for students and, if they are ready and willing, having their own blog is a great privilege and learning opportunity. I won’t deny that it is a fair bit of work for you as a teacher but like all things in life and in teaching, the more you put in, the more you get out!

Leave a comment.

Do you have any questions about blogging with students?

Do any of your students have blogs? How did you go about it?

32 thoughts on “Setting Up Student Blogs

  1. Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks so much for your very informative post on blogging. I am setting up students for my grade 2/3 enriched learning technology groups, and had asked you previously about how to do it. This makes it very clear and gives me a clear outline of what to teach them this term!
    Thanks again for all your help.
    Amy

  2. Hi Kathleen
    Thanks for this post. I teach older kids (years 5-7) and quite a few of them are keen to start blogging. I’m wondering whether I should wait for the Ultranet roll out for students ( I think we are at the end of the line!) and use that as an intro to blogging, especially with the uncertainty surrounding globalstudent. My concern with the Ultranet is it’s lack of ‘globality'(not quite sure that’s a word). Can you also tell me how it works in your class when only a few have blogs? Do they blog as an alternative to another class activity?
    Anne.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sure your students would love blogging!

      This is just my opinion but I feel very strongly that blogging on the Ultranet is not the way to go. I feel like it is almost pretend blogging and as you mentioned the global audience is SO important. I can’t express how much my students have learnt this year from collaborating with a global audience through blogging.

      The students do the majority of their blog posts at home. They work on their blogs at school during the week sometimes instead of a class activity that isn’t crucial for them to complete. I don’t let them miss reading, writing or maths lessons but if we’re working on integrated studies activities or something and they want to work on their blog, I let them.

      I hope that helps a bit!

      Kathleen 🙂

  3. Kathleen, I really like that you don’t just give every student a blog. That it is seen from the beginning as a responsibility and a privilege. Well done! Thanks for the great step by step of your process.

    • Thanks Kelly, the interesting thing is that I now have a couple of students who are getting their parents to help them set up a blog at home. The see blogging as a desirable activity because they realise that it is a privilege and they’ve seen what their peers have done with their blogs.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed your blog, especially the part of setting up student blogs. I am in a Web 2.0 class and found your site to be a great one to share with others!
    Thanks!

  5. Hi Kathleen,
    You have inspired me to ‘reward’ one perhaps two of my children with their own blog. I am a little nervous though!
    Would you be willing to share via email the detailed letter that you sent to parents at the start of the process please?
    Kind Regards,
    Gill Davey
    Gr 1/2
    Epsom PS

  6. Hi Kathleen,
    I’m going to set up my first student blog this weekend and this post was the first place I turned. Thanks for the guidance! I had thought about using something slightly easier like weebly, but since I know and love edublogs I’m going to stick with that. Did the students find it hard navigating the dashboard and posting window initially? Any special tips about particularly tricky parts?
    Also, if you could email me a copy of the letter you sent home to parents about their child’s blog, that would be a big help.
    Thanks so much.
    -Jonah

    • Hi Jonah,

      I’m sure your student will love having their own blog!

      I was actually really surprised at how quickly the kids picked up the dashboard and everything else. I thought it might have taken longer but they seemed to find it fairly intuitive. Your students are a year old than mine so I bet they’ll do very well!

      I just sent an email to parents to ask for permission. I will look for it now and send it through!

      Kathleen

  7. Hi Kathleen. First of all, congratulations on your recent wedding. May you and hubby be very happy forever.
    Congratulations also on all your incredible work with technology and your generous sharing of knowledge, you’re marvelous (and a big help).
    I’ve been blogging with my class for two years now and love the idea of the students starting up their own blog. I suppose I have introduced this concept already with the students creating their own digital portfolios using iWeb on a Mac. I’m teaching Year 6 this year and would love to extend this to using an edublog platform (would that be Global Student?) We didn’t publish our iWeb sites but saved the portfolios to a DVD and the kids took them home. Your post on setting up students’ blogs will be very helpful. I can’t imagine students at this age settling for not everyone having a blog so once they have proved themselves worthy (and what a great way to get quality blogging happening) of having a blog, a blog they’ll have! I’ll be busy!!!! Thanks again Kathleen.
    Pauline Quealy

    • @ Pauline,

      Thanks so much for your congratulations. We’re enjoying married life!

      I think your grade six students will love having their own blogs and you’ll find they’ll get a lot out of having the authentic audience. Global Student is going to be taking a new format this year. Stay tuned for announcements from them early next week. No doubt I will be blogging about the changes too!

      Good luck for the start of the year and look forward to hearing from you again,

      Kathleen 🙂

      • Hi Kathleen, Glad you had a fab start to the year. Loved listening to you on the Virtual staffroom podcast. Great tips. I’ve used edublogs for the last 2 years when creating a class blog (last year’s blog address: http://year5classof2010.edublogs.org) but I’m a little confused as to which category to use this year as I’m interested in each of my 20 students having a blog. I’m thinking it’s Edublog Campus. Would that be right? We’re in a Sydney Catholic school. Thanks.

        • @ Pauline, thanks for your email and I’m glad you liked the podcast! 🙂

          I’m not an expert but I think if you get an Edublogs Pro subscription you get 50 free blogs for students. I think that would work for you?

          Edublogs offer fantastic support so I’m sure if you emailed them on support@edublogs.org they’d help you out.

          PS – I don’t work for Edublogs but I’m starting to think they should hire me, haha 🙂

          • Brilliant Kathleen. Yes I think you should most definitely get commission at least. I’ll sign up with pro today. Have a great day at school with your yr 2 student. My yr 6 studentscan’t wait to start bloggin. I love the way youve integrated web 2 tools in your blog. Thanks again. You’re a champ.

  8. Thanks teachers. I’m interested in setting up a blog for my Grade 4 students. Your page was the first to appear in a Google search and being Victorian I checked it out. It’s great. You have shown me how well it can be done and I look forward to using some of your ideas. Many Thanks.

    • @ Gene,

      You’re welcome. I hope my post helps you in setting up your blog!

      Good luck,
      Kathleen

  9. Woohoo to you Kathleen Morris.
    All me questions answered right there!

    I have used wikis in the past and this is my first time with student blogs which is not far removed from wiki’s ( I am still thinking the wiki fits us better but how do you know if you don’t have a go!)

    Peace and Love,
    joe

      • @ Joe,

        Well thank you so much for your kind words! You’re right, a blog and a wiki do have different purposes so you have to work out what will suit you and your students best. If you do go with blogging, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

        Good luck!

        Kathleen

  10. Pingback: Mod 1: Assignment 1(Blogging), Post 1 of 2: Review of 3 Educator Blogs « slm508ksc

  11. Hi Kathleen,

    I love the video with your kids explaining about their blogging experience – I wish I’d done that myself! I also have my students earn their own blog – not all want one, which makes it easier for me to keep track of the ones that do! My students all participate in the class blog so still get to experience blogging. I have a ‘license’ that the kids earn. You can view it at http://bit.ly/jP8Vrw if you want. Please feel free to make suggestions!

    Katy

    • @ Katy,

      Wow thank your so much for taking the time to share this fabulous resource! I had never thought of doing a blogging license. What a great idea. It makes it so clear for everyone. I might adapt it and do something similar with my class if you don’t mind?

      Kathleen

      • Hi Kathleen,
        Sorry I’m only just seeing this now. Feel free to adapt the blogging license to make it suit the needs of your class. Hope your new students are enjoying blogging!
        Katy

  12. Hi Kathleen ( and Katy just above) thanks for the ideas in this post. I like the idea of potential bloggers having something to aim for as their personal blogging experience begins. Having the parents on board seems to be a vital part of the setting up process too. You’d like to think that with the rigour attached to earning a blog it is likely to be more than a passsing fad. Kathleen your current student bloggers seem to be testament to the success of your ideas and commitment to them as ongoing learners. You must be one proud teacher.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Jackie

    • @ Jackie,

      As I said to you on Twitter, I have found that parent support is non-negotiable. In the past, I would allow children to have blogs if their parents allowed them but now I really let parents know that they must be prepared to help their child. This doesn’t mean they need to have any technical knowledge of blogs but they must be prepared to support, encourage, discuss the blog with their child. The blogging students I’ve had in the past with supportive and interested parents are still blogging now however those without much parent interest stopped blogging long ago. I should write another post about this!

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kathleen

  13. Hi Kathleen,

    I am interested in letting my students have their own blog with edublogs pro. I have had a class blog for 3 years now. I am concerned as to what happens to their blog at the end of the school year. I teach year 6 and in 6 months time I won’t see my students again, I don’t think it is feasible to be their administrator after they move to high school. What are my options? Can I hand complete control over to them/their parents from my edublogs pro account (not sure if you can even do that, have been reading the support pages, unsure yet), or do I delete their blog and let them re-establish one if they/their parents choose?

    What do you think? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Justine

    • Hi Justine,

      Great question. One of the reasons I am so insistent that parents must agree to provide support if a child is to earn their own blog is because they won’t be in my class forever. So that would be the first thing. If you’re going to let students have blogs, I would recommend only doing so if parents are going to be supportive. It is totally up to you of course, but I have tried it both ways and without the family support, the students just don’t get as much out of blogging – or it won’t be maintainable.

      I would advise you not to delete the blogs at the end of the school year. I have never deleted blogs. I have a couple of students who I had in grade two who are now in grade three, four or five and are still blogging (in non-blogging classrooms). It is important to note that they all have parent support – the parents don’t need to have skills, just an interest in encouraging and monitoring their child.

      Because I use Edublogs Campus (Global2) which my state education dept pays for, I can’t have parents as admin. You need to have a school/state email. I set up the blogs and then the children are the admin – they have complete control for their posts and comments (again – with family support). I am still an admin but I don’t access their dashboard except in extreme circumstances. I wouldn’t have time for that. So I can access the dashboard of students who are no longer in my class but I rarely do. I just subscribe to the blogs or put them in my Google Reader and leave comments when I can.

      If you have more questions, I’d recommend emailing support@edublogs.org – they’re really good!

      Let me know how you get on?
      Kathleen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.