One of the things I love most about blogging with my class is the global connections we have developed. When I first started blogging in 2008, I didn’t even think about the possibility of connecting with other classes. It was a good six months before we started to cross paths with other blogging classes around the world.
One of the first connections we made was with Mrs Yollis’ third grade class in California. Read one of the first posts about our friendship on Mrs Yollis’ class blog here. Our friendship has now developed over three years of blogging with different cohorts of students.
There have been so many highlights from our connection with Mrs Yollis’ class. Apart from regular conversations through comments on each others blogs, we have skyped a number of times, worked on many collaborative projects together and one of my students has even visited Mrs Yollis’ class. Excitingly, that number will increase to two this week!
On a personal level, I have learnt so much from Linda Yollis and she has shown me the power of setting high standards for students, involving families and taking risks (among other things).
Mrs Yollis’ class is not the only class we call our blogging buddies. There are classes from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and Australia featured on our blogroll who we have had meaningful connections with.
I have found many teachers are inspired to embark on blogging with their class when they realise what a powerful avenue for global collaboration blogs are.
Here are some tips for forming friendships with other blogging classes:
- Visit Sue Waters’s compilation of class blogs from around the world and add your blog to the list.
- Work on building your own PLN. Twitter is a great meeting place for teachers who want their classes to connect.
- Show a genuine interest in blogs you start commenting on and work on being an active member of the blogging community.
- Find blogs that are at a similar stage to you. If you have just started blogging, you might get more out of a connection with someone at a similar stage as you rather than someone who has been blogging for many years with an extensive blogroll.
- Hunt for like minded educators. The teachers I have bonded most with are those who have classes around the same age group, who post at a similar frequency, who have a regular online presence and who share similar teaching philosophies and goals for blogging.
- Keep blogging relationships student centred. While I enjoy collaborating with other teachers, our core business is the students. Help students to get to know their blogging buddies, develop their relationships and extend their learning.
- Smart small by getting into the routine of commenting on your new buddies’ blogs before delving in to more structured collaboration.
- Encourage parents to be part of your blogging community and comment on your buddies’ blogs or attend Skype sessions. Blogging is something your whole school community can be a part of!
- Rush in to finding blogging buddies before you establish your class blog. I have found it is most beneficial to ensure your students know the basics of blogging such as safety, etiquette and quality commenting before embarking on collaborative ventures.
- Start writing comments on random blogs simply saying “please visit my blog”. I see this all too often! Like all friendships, blogging relationships require give and take and develop from genuine interest.
- Introduce your students to too many different blogs at once. In 2009, I tried to have my students comment on and keep up with dozens of different blogs which only resulted in confusion for both me and my class. We launched this year with our Quad Blogging project and have three core blogs we visit regularly. Additionally, we have a variety of other blogs that we drop in on on a semi-frequent basis which were introduced after we got to know our Quad Blogging buddies. We get a LOT of people visiting our blog and asking us to connect with their class but there is only so much we can do. I no longer feel compelled to start ongoing relationships with ALL of our visitors.
- Give up – if you have trouble finding a suitable class to connect with or finding time to develop relationships, keep trying! It is worth it.