A few days ago I was honoured to be invited on the The Virtual Staffroom podcast. Chris Betcher interviewed Linda Yollis
and me about our classroom blogging and collaboration. Click here to find the podcast or look up “The Virtual Staffroom” in iTunes.
One of the topics that arose on the podcast was around getting more teachers involved in classroom blogging. In my last post, I highlighted some of the benefits my students and I have gained from having a class blog. If the advantages are clear, why aren’t more teachers using blogs?
Linda Yollis and I are both passionate about encouraging others to get involved in blogging. Often the problem doesn’t lie with starting the blog but maintaining it. I would love to know the percentage of blogs that become dormant within months of starting.
There are many issues that teachers have voiced as obstacles to starting or maintaining a blog, or using technologies in their classroom. I’d like to address a few “obstacles” here with an alternative viewpoint. Please comment with any other obstacles or solutions you’ve come across.
“I already do so much, I don’t have time for something extra.”
There is no denying that blogging (or integrating technologies) takes time. It is a different way of working for many teachers who have been using the same approach for years. If you want to make blogging a part of your classroom, you need to prioritise it. That may mean sacrificing things that were priorities in the past. For Linda, that was making attractive bulletin board displays or creating “paper based” projects for students.
While you will experience a steep learning curve at the beginning, it is worth sticking with it. When you get the hang of blogging or technology integration it is not an add on, it is a seamless way of working more effectively.
“I don’t have enough computers in my classroom.”
I have five (far from new) computers in my classroom and Linda has only two computers in her classroom. It is clear that we didn’t need a 1:1 laptop program or a computer lab to make blogging work for us.
You need to be creative and find out what works for you and your class. Perhaps you could use a projector or IWB to do whole class/small group work, or partner students up and have times when they can rotate their use of the computer.
Use what you’ve got to the best of your ability and you’re off to a great start!
“I want to blog with my class but my young students can’t type.”
The way I like to think of this is, are students going to get any better at typing by not blogging? I have found blogging is a great way to authentically teach keyboarding skills and is an avenue for regular practice.
Last year I was amazed at the progress many students made with their typing through incidental lessons, drill games and regular practice.
Some students are going to take longer than others to develop their keyboarding skills but even if they produce a one sentence comment, that’s a good start. Alternatively, I sometimes get the “better typists” help other students type their thoughts if we’re short on time.
“I’m concerned about internet safety. I don’t want to compromise my students’ safety.”
Internet safety is undoubtedly an important issue. There are many ways to teach about internet safety and in my own experience, blogging has been the ideal avenue to teach my young students about this topic and appropriate online behaviours. Click here to read about how I set up rules and guidelines for my class blog. These guidelines ensure safety is a priority.
Through blogging, all my students know not to publish their surnames or reveal other personal information about themselves including passwords. They know that what they publish on the internet is forever and cannot be taken back. My students are also becoming aware of correct netiquette.
Internet safety has to be taught and I have found it is best to approach the topic when students are young. It is important that we give our students experience using online technologies in a supervised environment. Technology is not going away. Internet safety will always be an issue. We need to address it.
In summary, it is clear that if you really want to do something you will do it. Apparent obstacles will turn into opportunities for creativity and problem solving.