With the new school year beginning in Australia, many teachers will be introducing blogging into their classrooms.
Some teachers will be continuing an established blogging program with a new cohort of students, while others will be introducing blogging for the first time.
Here are some tips based on my own experience of how to successfully integrate blogging into your classroom:
- Start small: don’t expect to know everything at once and avoid comparing your blog to more established classroom blogs. Begin with simple posts that include text and images. As you build your skills and confidence, you might begin embedding web 2.0 tools.
- Integrate: don’t make blogging an add-on. Integrate mathematics, literacy and other subjects into blog posts and comments. Make blogging part of your literacy block or homework schedule. Find more advice on integrating blogging into your classroom curriculum here.
- Be regular: a haphazard blogging program isn’t going to provide as many benefits as a predictably regular one. Set yourself goals (such as publishing one new post every week) and routines (like spending the first 10 minutes of each day reading the students’ blog comments).
- Start local before global: I recommend building teacher and student skills through a class blog before you begin to collaborate globally with other blogging classes. The students will get more out of global collaboration if they have established the basic skills around commenting, internet safety, etiquette etc.
- Begin with a class blog: If you plan to use student blogs in your class, whether students will be earning blogs or simply assigned a blog, I strongly recommend starting with a class blog. This allows the children to build those essential blogging skills that they can transfer to their own blog.
- Teach quality commenting: I always start the year by teaching the students about quality commenting. Initially, I write all the posts and the students’ role is to comment. I have found explicit teaching + high expectations + regular feedback + authentic motivation = high quality writing. In my class, our blogging program has a strong literacy focus.
- Integrate internet safety: Once you have established your blogging guidelines and made sure all parents and students are aware of them, use blogging as an authentic way to teach about internet safety. Blogging is an excellent way for students to learn about being responsible members of an online community.
- Collaborate: find a buddy to learn with, either someone at your school or another educator online. Don’t be afraid to learn with your students; you don’t have to be the expert. You might even set up a joint blog with your whole grade level, or with another class. Sharing the workload can make blogging easier and more enjoyable.
- Get parents involved: Parent involvement cannot be left to chance. At the start of the year, focus on educating the parents about blogging via a parent night, family blogging afternoon, handouts, emails etc. Continue to educate and encourage parents to become part of your classroom blogging community throughout the year.
- Keep going: it is easy to set up a blog but maintaining it requires work. Keep focussing on your goals and persevere. You will soon see your students enjoying many benefits from your blogging program!
What other tips could you offer?
Image attribtion: ‘Caution: Blog Ahead‘