Showing posts with label student blogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label student blogs. Show all posts

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Ideas for Blogging With K-12 Students This Year

This blog post is an excerpt from the updated 2021-22 version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook which will available this weekend. Subscribe to my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter to have a PDF copy sent directly to you on August 15th

Whether your students are just learning how to type or they’re aspiring journalists, there are lots of ways to use blogging as a classroom activity. Edublogs offers a nice directory of active classroom blogs. Take a look through that directory at to find some good examples of how teachers are using blogs in all grade levels from Kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Before jumping into the activities that you could possibly do with your students, let’s review some ground rules that you should establish with your students for publishing online. These ground rules can apply to any activity that involves online publishing, not just blog publishing.
  • Everything you publish on the classroom blog will be held to the same standard as things you do and say in the classroom.
  • Try to use your best spelling and grammar. (Side note, I try to refrain from correcting things like spelling and grammar on a public forum).
  • Keep comments polite and productive.
  • Refrain from publishing sensitive personal information.
  • Check with classmates before writing about them or posting pictures of them.
Check with your school’s IT department as they may already have a set of guidelines for publishing blog posts and or use of students’ images on public-facing forums like blogs or videos. If that is the case, review the guidelines to make sure you are in compliance with them and talk to your IT administration if you think there needs to be an exception or alteration made. It is also important to clearly communicate to students’ parents why your students will be blogging. In that communication to parents explain how you’ll be using students’ work as well as how you will protect students’ privacy.

Blogging Activities for K-2
One of the best ways to use blogging with students of this age is to have students write a sentence or two about a picture. You could start the process by uploading a picture then having students write one comment about what they see or what they think about the picture. One of my favorite examples of this activity came from Jennifer Lefebvre who had her P1 (grade 1) students write about their class mascot which was a stuffed animal. Her students wrote about what the mascot did and what they did with the mascot.

In the fall of 2018 I worked with a second grade class that invited parents to participate in a modified blogging activity. The blog was established through Seesaw. Parents used the video recording function in Seesaw to record themselves reading books. Those recordings were then posted on the classroom blog for students to watch.

Blogging Activities for 3-5
I don’t think you’ll find a better example of using blogging with students of this age group than Linda Yollis’ Classroom Blog. The blog has the tagline, “Third graders learning and sharing together.” On the blog you’ll find lots of examples of students blogging including “Family Blogging Month.” During Family Blogging Month Mrs. Yollis invites parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to comment on the blog. The blog post announcing Family Blogging Month even includes a video from students about how to write quality blog comments.

It is at this age that many students are introduced to reading news and current events. A site like DOGO News is a good place to find age-appropriate articles for students to read. You can post links to these stories on your classroom blog then have students respond to the stories with comments of their own. Depending upon your students, you may need to include some discussion prompts with the articles that you post for your students to read.

Blogging Activities for 6-8
This is a great time to start letting students have a larger role in communicating information about their schools. Creating a student council blog is one way that you can give students that increased communication responsibility. Let them post daily or weekly announcements in text or video form. Have them write about the decisions that were made in the student council and how the decisions were made.

A blogging activity that I did with eleventh grade students that could easily be modified for middle school students is blogging as historical characters. Students in my U.S. History class wrote a series of blog posts in which they attempted to use the voices of delegates to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. After writing their blog posts they then had to respond in character to classmates’ blog posts.

Blogging Activities for 9-12
By the time students reach high school they are capable of managing and maintaining their own blogs. In doing that students are creating portfolios of their thoughts and their work. You could have students create their own blogs that will serve as portfolios of their work done in your classroom or for the work they’ve done in all of their classes. What’s important in doing this is that students should be writing more than just a simple “I did X.” They should write about the process and what they learned through the process.

In 2019-20 my computer science students used Google Sites to write updates about the projects they were working on. This process forced them to stop and look at what they had done and what they still needed to do. Having them blog about their projects in progress also gave me the opportunity to see where I needed to interject into their project processes.

When I taught a current events course for eleventh and twelfth grade students I made them all editors on a group blog created with Blogger. Every week each student was responsible for posting a news article or video of interest to them along with their own commentary about their chosen article or video. All students were also responsible for commenting on their classmates’ posts.

One more example of using blogs with high school students comes from my former colleague (now retired) Pam Chodosh who used blogging as a publishing outlet for students in her high school journalism class. Obviously, anyone visiting the blog could read the students’ stories. But Pam was able to give her students’ work a bigger audience by getting a local newspaper to link to some of the stories. Those links provided students’ with a far bigger audience than any printed school newspaper could have.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Template for Getting Permission for Publishing Student Blogs, Podcasts, and Videos

Even though it's not as trendy as podcasting or vlogging, blogging is still a great way to have students publish their thoughts and findings. Blogs are also still a good tool for students to use to create portfolios of their work that include writing, videos, and podcasts. Before your students, especially those who are under 13, start publishing on a public-facing platform you should explain to parents and students why they're publishing and get permission from parents. Edublogs offers an extensive guide to obtaining permission for student blogging. The guide could also apply to podcasting and vlogging. 

The Edublogs guide to obtaining permission to blog with students includes a sample permission slips that you can copy and modify. The guide also includes framework for having discussions with school administrators and with parents about why you want your students to publish their work. Another good component of the guide is a set of guidelines for students and parents regarding publishing and commenting behaviors. 

It's guides like this one and other quality support resources that helps keep Edublogs at the top of my list of recommendations for student blogging platforms. If you're interested in getting your students blogging or using blogs as digital portfolios, take a look at the directions in my Practical Ed Tech Handbook and then create your first blog with Edublogs, Blogger, or Weebly for Education.  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Edublogs Explains How to Handle Student Blogs at the End of the Year

The end of the school year will be here before too long. For many of you it's only about six weeks away. If you and your students have been blogging along this year, you might be wondering what you should do with those blogs when the year ends. Do you leave them floundering in the Internet winds? Do you delete all of the posts? Do you password protect all of the content? Or should you download the content and turn it into a physical artifact? Edublogs answers those questions and more in their new guide on how to deal with student and class blogs at the end of the year.

In How to Deal With Student and Class Blogs at the End of the Year Edublogs provides directions for archiving blogs, hiding content, deleting blogs, and transferring ownership and administration of blogs. The guide also includes step-by-step directions for exporting the content of a blog and then turning it into a PDF through a service called Blog Booker.

I've used Blog Booker in the past to turn Blogger blogs into PDFs and ebooks. Watch this video to see how that process is done.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

How to Create Featured Blog Posts

A couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge, I updated my chart of recommended classroom blogging tools. If you're participating in the blogging challenge, you might find yourself wanting to feature a post at the top of the blog. This could be a post that contains important information about the classroom blog or it could be the most outstanding post of the week that you want to make sure everyone sees when landing on the blog's homepage. Either way, Blogger and Edublogs offer a "featured blog post" setting that you can enable. Watch this short tutorial to learn how it works on both platforms.

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Comparison of Blogging Services for Teachers and Students

The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge kicks-off two weeks from now. You don't need to be an Edublogs user in order for your students to participate in the challenge. If you're new to blogging or new to having students blog, Edublogs is a solid choice for a blogging platform. Edublogs isn't the only option for student bloggers. In this updated chart I compare seven options for creating student blogs.

At the bottom of my blogging platforms comparison chart you will see my final ranking of the seven services. Spoiler Alert! I rank Edublogs and Blogger as 1a and 1b. But take a look at the chart and see which services have the features that you want and need.

My YouTube channel contains many short tutorials on the features of both of these blogging services.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Student Blogging Challenge - An Audience for Your Students' Blogs

Edublogs provides an excellent service for creating classroom blogs and student blogs. But offering a solid blogging platform isn't the only way that Edublogs supports teachers. Throughout the year Edublogs publishes helpful tips for creating and maintaining blogs with students. You'll find those tips on The Edublogger. And twice each year Edublogs hosts a student blogging challenge. The next student blogging challenge begins the week of October 7th.

  The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge is a ten week challenge. Each week there is a different challenge for students to complete. All of the challenges are designed to help students develop their writing and digital citizenship skills. Participating in the challenges can give your students' blog entries a larger audience as you'll be connected with other classes participating in the Student Blogging Challenge.

Learn more about the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge in the following video.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Ways to Keep Track of Students' Blog Entries

One of the questions that I often field during my workshop on blogging is, "how do you keep track of what students are writing?" The answer to that depends on a few things including how frequently your students are publishing and the platform through which your students are blogging.

Option 1:
If you are using Edublogs, there is a section in your dashboard called My Class. Within the My Class section you can see a list of your students' individual blogs. There is also a section in your dashboard called Users. Within the Users section you can see each students' account and how many posts they've made. Also in the Users section you will find the option to run reports to find out which users have recently published on your classroom blog.

Option 2:
The strategy that I used for years was to have students enter their names and links to their most recent posts into a Google Form. All of their submissions will appear in a tidy spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet I can see a timestamp, name, and the link to go directly to a student's most recent post. I can also add a column in the spreadsheet for noting whether or not I have given them feedback.

Option 3:
I use Feedly to subscribe to my favorite blogs. If your students are maintaining individual blogs, you could create a free Feedly account and then subscribe to your students' blogs. You'll then be able to see all of their blogs from one convenient dashboard. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Feedly.