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
- the first activity looks do-able – I’m doing it now, after all
- I have had some experience with using blogs with students
- 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.
- I really enjoyed the previous #ksyb challenge
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A class blog can be set up for free. Try Edublogs or Weebly.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?