Why Student Blogging Can Be Awesome.

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When I think back 10 or so years ago, blogging was ‘the thing’. Everyone was all, “it’s my online journal/diary…it’s awesome!”. I remember thinking that blogging was SO not for me (flash forward to now and I have two blogs, live and learn). But in recent years, when I mention blogging instructionally, I always get a lot of eye rolls and mental checkouts- which I completely get! When most people think of blogging, they think of recipes, crafting, and the minutia of people’s lives, things not everyone cares too much about.

But here’s the thing: my goal for the year has been reflection. The part I never did in the learning process. As I’ve been reflecting on reflection, I’m seeing the role that blogging can have in education. Initially, I’m drawn to teachers having a blog and reflecting on their practice. I love this idea, but after trying this with our amazing DLC teachers, I know the challenge. Teachers have way too much to do (WAY. TOO. MUCH.) on a daily basis. Unfortunately for most of the teachers I support, blogging has become one more thing. So while I see the benefits for teachers, I’m going to bide my time on them.

Instead, I’m going to focus on students- we all know that teachers put their kids first and give so much of themselves to make their students’ lives and experiences more rich. My thinking is that these reasons will inspire teachers to try blogging with their students (and then take it on themselves). So here it is, 10 Reasons To Inspire Your Class To Start Blogging (10 reasons as a poster).

  1. Practice writing and become a better writer: how can students become better writers? Through writing…especially writing with purpose. I’d also bet that if students knew there was a larger audience beyond your teacher desk, they might step up their compositions.
  2. It’s an authentic experience:  we’ve all been there- when you get an assignment to write about something fictitious and you know that only one person is going to be reading it…your teacher, who is also reading between 25 and 150 other variations on the same theme. Why not have students engage in that same writing process but for a wider audience. It could be part of a bigger project (a/k/a blog) on a specific student-chosen topic. It also gives students a chance to practice those digtial citizenship skills.
  3. Engage in reflection about learning: I feel pretty strongly about this one. It really gives kids an authentic chance to reflect on their learning. How does that lesson/skill/activity impact them. Maybe the teacher will read awesome stuff, maybe they will learn about a challenge the student is facing, and maybe the teacher will glean information from the kids that will cause them to adjust their instruction. Give kids a chance to own their learning.
  4. Give students a voice (and maybe a choice): this is critical for our students. So many kids don’t get to make choices in their day. They’re told what what to do, when and how to do it. They often don’t get voice opinions and have a say in their life. Why not make this the part where your students learn to cultivate their voice and develop a (writing) style of their own?
  5. Build confidence: look around your classroom/school- are all of the students confident in their skills and intelligence? If you said yes, you’re in the best school ever (or you teach Kindergarten), but kids need a chance to shine- could they be the published expert? Could they hone their skills in writing about learning and about content?
  6. Promote the 4 Cs: ahhhhh the 4 Cs– I love them, but in many instances, it can be hard to move beyond with the four Cs. The act of blogging definitely incorporates all four into your instruction and really forces kids to think about what they’re learning (and what you’re teaching), and I definitely appreciate a good metacognitive conversation.
  7. Help people learn new things, and not just the lucky people who get to read the blog posts. Every time I’m writing a blog post, I research support things, expand my vocabulary, and think about writing in ways I normally don’t. I get a chance to grow, just like you do.
  8. Can become a portfolio of learning, experiences, and growth: what a wonderful gift for students to be able to look back at their learning and writing skills in a meaningful way anytime they want. They can see how they’ve grown as a person, a learner, and as a writer…no binders necessary!
  9. Share learning and classroom with families: not only can students look back, but families get an amazing opportunity to glimpse into their children’s learning and school lives, in ways they normally cannot.
  10. Connect with other people and build relationships– as your readership grows, so does your chance for building relationships with other people, near and far, to enhance instruction and learning.

Maybe you’re enthusiastic about blogging…but where to start? Maybe with a class blog- it would be awesome if students walked into your class tomorrow morning armed with a personal blog, a device, and the skills to use both. In the real world, that’s likely not happening, and you have curriculum to teach, too! Start slow…do what’s going to work and make everyone feel good about it. Can I give you some unsolicited advice?

  • Have students prewrite in Google Docs- that’s where I draft all of my blog posts. It saves automatically, it has great spell & grammar check and multiple people can collaborate in real time.
  • Once they’ve written what they think is their blog post, have them engage in peer reviewing (with their colleagues).
  • After peer reviewing, they can share it with you and you can take a peek.
  • Once you’ve approved it, you can login to the class blog and that student can copy/paste the text into the blog editor, click Publish and it’s done.
  • You can share out the link back to students (who can share it with interested parties), you can share on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or any other media that you and your students agree to (see #4 above…involve the kids in those choices).

Blog platforms that might work for you:

Name & Link

Details

Blogger

Use your Google account to login, can be a little much for first-time bloggers.

Seesaw

Great for littles and people getting started. Has a nice class blog function.

Weebly

Use your Google account to login, really sharp looking, easy to use.

WordPress

Can be REALLY complicated.

Kidblog

Not free, but easy to use, lots of great classroom features.

Hopefully this helps you formulate a plan for adding blogging to your instruction- I’m thinking back as my History teacher self and there’s a lot of “I wish I had…” going on. My kids would have LOVED this, I guess I’ll have to live vicariously though you.

What’s your first step toward blogging? What blog platforms would you recommend?

 

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2 thoughts on “Why Student Blogging Can Be Awesome.

  1. Hi Kendra

    I thought you might like to take a look at how I have incorporated the concept of blogging into my US Government course.

    http://mockussc2016.blogspot.com

    I think this blog responds well to each of the points made in your article while, at the same time, adding a number of interesting “twists” to the whole concept of blogging and authenticity.

    Peter Paccone
    San Marino High School

    Like

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