I haven’t blogged for quite a while but now’s a good time to pick it up again. A recent Twitter conversation between @MitchSquires, @kathleen_morris, @henriettaMi and @lindayollis is the real catalyst. The question was on how to sustain blogging after the initial enthusiasm wanes. In tweet form, the answer boils down to this:
ie, Prioritise, make it a habit, persevere and apply to self (i.e. be a model).
@henriettaMi has written a post on how to make class blogging a habit (please visit and read the comments, too, as the conversation continues). I’m not about to re-create any of that but rather, in the interest of keeping this going, build on it (also, if you don’t follow this people, make sure you do especially if you teach primary school students, click on my hyperlinks above).
I’m adding by persevering and applying to my self. Here i am blogging again, making myself do it!
Beyond that, let me tell a story.
Working as an IT integrator, it is actually my job to help teachers integrate technology. As it happens, I started two teachers out this year on the road to blogging: one with a focus on numeracy (Teacher A) and another on literacy (Teacher B). Both work with strugglers and my pitch was that a class blog is an extension of the classroom and allows the teacher to document the lesson so students can re-visit it and associated resources as often as they want as well as free-ing up the teacher to provide more individual support as needed (here’s more on why a having a class blog is good). Enthusing both teachers was not a problem. For some reason, Teacher B seems more able to sustain the effort and appears to be more successful.
Here are some reasons of why this is….(just my initial analysis).
- Have a specific scope. Teacher B decided to use a blended learning environment (fortunately fits my idea of class blog) for a novel study, incorporating both a class blog and OneNote. She did this as an Action-Research activity such that if it proves successful for one unit then she’s got more reason to use it in other units. I guess, you can call this as Identify your blogging focus as well.
- Have specific objectives. Teacher B knew she wanted her students to write more and that they were only to do comments initially. Blogging was more reflective writing whilst OneNote was used for research. That’s 2 forms of writing right there. She also wanted more collaborative work which meant getting each other to read and comment on each other and pairing up on the research activity.
- Feel your students and have a willing and active audience. Teacher B respected the fact that the class wanted a close environment. They did open their real and virtual doors to me (Lucky me!!!) and they were happy to see me in both environments (classroom and blog).
- Persevere. Yes, it works. Teacher B engaged her students the whole time, prompting them to interact face-to-face and online. In my case, I kept touching base with her and encouraging her: face-to-face, visiting the blog and email. She knew she has my full support and my enthusiasm should hers start to flag (it hasn’t).
- Highlight and celebrate successes. The beauty of specific objectives and scope is that it is much easier and quicker to see successes. Even in just 5 weeks, both of us have seen improvements in student collaboration and writing. Her students have shown great empathy for the characters in the novel and understand the context deeper than expected. Our celebration was a mere exchange of affirmation (is it too early for bubblies?).
So there you have it, a few more ways to sustain blogging from the perspectives of a teacher and IT integrator.
Any other ideas?