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Class Blog – what for?

Teacher Challenge has just launched a new 30-day challenge to get your students blogging. I wasn’t going to do it because I don’t currently have a class (teaching on pause post) but obviously had a change of heart with these

Reasons for joining this challenge

  1. the first activity looks do-able – I’m doing it now, after all
  2. I have had some experience with using blogs with students
  3. I am currently working with a maths teacher to explore the use of blogs as a platform for lessons, instructions and reflections, to engage the disengaged students who struggle a bit with maths. This could be an action-research project even.
  4. I really enjoyed the previous #ksyb challenge
  5. I could learn – and help others learn…and wouldn’t that just be awesome!!!

For these reasons, I’m choosing topic 3. It lends itself nicely to list form, which if you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve got a penchant for.

10 things you should know about a class blog

  1. It provides a platform for lessons and instructions and homework. With tags, teachers and students can look up related posts. Invaluable in itself but a teacher can be away/absent and still have a planned activity accessible.
  2. A class blog is a sandpit to  explore digital citizenship in a space where the teacher can moderate.  Issues that come up such as inappropriate language or breach of copyright are <b>real or authentic learning opportunities </b> within a “confined” space.
  3. It provides a platform for reflection. This need not be limited to curricular content as reflections on themes (e.g. seasons and events) can help teachers get to know their students more (we all know that’s good practice, right?, as how else can we address individual needs if we don’t know the individuals?). Reflections can provide a point of reference for changes so blogging is as a chance to model how to reflect and learn from it.
  4. A class blog should have teachers and students as contributors.  One-sided conversations (oxymoron?) are boring. Give students a voice and they will use it, especially if you show you listen.
  5. A class blog can empower parents to be partners in education, when given appropriate access.  It is a communications channel.  Pedagogy and language can change over time, even if content doesn’t, and conflict can occur at home when parents attempt to help (“That’s not how my teacher does it!”).  If you’re uncomfortable having them comment, at least allow them to read.
  6. A class blog can be set up for free. Try Edublogs or Weebly.
  7. A class blog is an extension of the classroom. Encourage discussions. Find opportunities for students to create posts, not just comments. Encourage use and re-use (for revision).  A class blog can be just a repository or it can be a think tank depending on how it is used. Use the photo gallery. Create a resources page. Explore the #ksyb Teacher Challenge elements.
  8. A class blog can be shared. Even after I’ve left the school where I set up this Year 8 Maths class blog (mainly for parents), I’ve still referred to it including the teacher I’m currently working with.
  9. A class blog provides a good opportunity to develop literacy (normal, visual, digital) especially for subjects where literacy is not the focus, e.g. science and mathematics.
  10. A class blog maps out as well as captures/journals your learning journey.

Most of my experience with class blogging had been in the sheltered confines of blogs in Sharepoint – very limited audience – because that’s all the school administration allowed me. When I did venture out with this Year 8 Maths class blog, some teachers questioned its benefits and some were worried about the too-hard=to do precedence I was setting (yup, ruffled a few feathers). Actually, most of that content was copied from my internal class blog so it wasn’t really extra work for me and it was evidence of empowering parents which some parents, and students, really appreciated.  Being open, I was much more mindful of what I posted like class photos and certainly avoided names since I didn’t go through the due process of getting permissions.

What this shows is that there are reasons why you shouldn’t have a class blog but hopefully the reasons to do so far outweighs the negatives. Do you have reason enough?

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10 Responses to “Class Blog – what for?”

  1. February 15th, 2011 at 5:35 pm   Reply

    mistea says:

    Malyn
    10 great ideas to blog with a class. I would hate to have a blog that was not accessible by the world. Good on you for ruffling feathers. To be honest blogging does make extra work for me, but when I am passionate about something the extra work is no burden. I am looking forward to the webinar next Tuesday that Murch and Mrs Yollis are running. I am hoping to learn even more.
    Kathryn

  2. February 15th, 2011 at 8:29 pm   Reply

    malyn says:

    Hello Kathryn. Thanks for visiting.

    Blogs as a collaborative platform can have varying degrees of openness so there are possibly occasions when it shouldn’t be open to the whole world. For example, we have used blogs as part of the pastoral care curriculum – I’m happy for such cases to have limited audiencing.

    What’s the webinar about?

    cheers,
    Malyn

  3. February 16th, 2011 at 10:21 am   Reply

    mrsjwilson says:

    Malyn, I’m glad you’re taking on this challenge even though you aren’t directly in a classroom. I think you can do more to get students blogging in your position than teachers can since you can mentor all of the teachers in your school (if they are willing).

    This is a great list, and it gives me some additional things to strive towards with my class blog. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. February 17th, 2011 at 10:06 pm   Reply

    Anne Mirtschin says:

    Hi Malyn, I am glad that you have continued in the challenge as well. This is a very thoughtful and intensive post. Your advice is invaluable and you have spoken from the voice of experience.
    If you do have time on Tuesday, 23rd Feb from 4-5pm, I am moderating a free online webinar with Linda Yollis as the guest presenter. See http://malyn.edublogs.org/2011/02/15/class-blog-what-for/
    Then on Wed night, 24th Feb, Sue Wyatt will be the guest presenter on the Student Blogging Challenge. See http://australiaseries.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/the-global-student-blogging-challenge/
    It would be great if you could attend one or both of these sessions.

  5. February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm   Reply

    Theresa Allen says:

    I was excited to see someone I knew from the Teacher challenge starting out with the Classroom challenge a bit like myself, really not having a classroom, but wanting to use the benefits and apply them somehow! Great points on blogging with a class. I will keep them in mind as I go through this challenge. I hope the teacher your working with sees how beneficial a blog can be for students and parents!

    Theresa

    • February 21st, 2011 at 7:09 pm   Reply

      malyn says:

      Hi Theresa,

      Thanks for popping by and commenting. This challenge is tougher for the likes of us who don’t have a class but worthwhile to do nonetheless. The teacher I’m working with is most appreciative; let’s hope it stays that way.

      cheers,
      Malyn

  6. February 21st, 2011 at 10:12 pm   Reply

    arisdon says:

    Thanks for putting all of the great reasons to blog with students all in one spot. I hope that your post can encourage some tentative teachers to get into blogging since they offer so many benefits to the learning process. Cheers!

  7. February 22nd, 2011 at 2:52 am   Reply

    mrsdkrebs says:

    Thanks, Malyn, I do have reason enough, especially with your good ideas. Those of us with classes who are blogging definitely appreciate the wisdom of people like you and Theresa. Thanks again for joining the challenge.
    Denise

  8. February 22nd, 2011 at 5:26 pm   Reply

    Sheri Edwards says:

    I agree with your reasons, and I see that blogs are more collaborative than I had thought. You’ve also given me reasons to step up to student posting sooner than I had planned. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  9. February 23rd, 2011 at 12:18 pm   Reply

    malyn says:

    @arisdon @Denise and @Sheri – thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you got something out of this post. I think I’ve just skimmed the surface – I’m sure there’s way more blogs can be used in the classroom. but as you said, reason enough!

    cheers,
    Malyn

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