How to Begin Blogging with Your Students
Blogging is a written website that expresses personal opinions, activities, and experiences. Blogging has been around for awhile, and there are many tools for the students to use. It is not so much about the tool but about the conversations to be had. Is there a political issue that has the class fuming? Have them air out their opinions in a controlled web space. Have students raise awareness about an issue that is going on in an underprivileged nation. Have them reflect on their lessons. Get the students discussing, get the students learning, get the students publishing.
Blogging meets CCSS.ELA-Literacy in Writing, Standard 6 which states: Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing, and to interact and collaborate with others.
Why not add it to your digital toolbox?
Start with a simple tool like TodaysMeet.com. This website can be accessed with all devices. There is no app. They just need to point their device to TodaysMeet.com/yourtopicgoeshere. The students can then have an ongoing conversation about anything. Once the conversation is over the transcript can then be saved and posted anywhere on the web or printed out for notes/records. A key management piece is teaching students not to use "text talk" and use complete sentences, as well as correct grammar usage and mechanics. Obviously there are some behavioral management things to consider with cyber-bullying and the like, but common sense media does a great job of addressing those issues.
Todaysmeet.com also gives voice to those students that would not necessarily raise their hand in class but are vigorous texting machines. Socratic method works well in this format as well and students are more likely to be engaged if they have a device they can use to respond. TodaysMeet has a really small learning curve here so give this tool a shot.
Common Sense Media
Using TodaysMeet is a great way to introduce blogging to your students. It is also a perfect time to begin teaching cyber safety and digital citizenship.
Here are some great lessons to do with your class as you introduce blogging to your students:
K-2 Screen Out the Mean
3-5 Super Digital Citizen
6-8 Forms and Norms
9-12 My Online Code
KidBlog is an awesome tool! Over 3.7 million students across the globe are using Kidblog, because it has the features teachers and students want.
Designed by teachers, KidBlog is safe (COPPA compliant), simple, and robust. Teachers set up a class blogging site where students are given individual accounts. Students can then publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community.
You can use KidBlog to create classroom discussions, practicing writing skills, create an e-portfolio, reflect on learning, and formatively assess your student's writing. Give your students the chance to share their writing with an authentic audience!
Remind 101 is great for sending messages to students through text message. Students that have cell phones usually have them at all times. Sending reminders for homework and updates about upcoming events are easy. This tool is a must have for the first week back. Set up your students early and start that one way communication. Create groups for each period, schedule reminders ahead of time, or remind students that they have a project due soon.
ClassDojo is a classroom behavior management tool. You input student names and chart positive and negative behaviors. Add points for team work, participation, or good character. Subtract points for classroom disruptions of any kind. ClassDojo can also be used as a student randomizer. Throw out your popsicle sticks and pull out ClassDojo. Award participation points on the fly.
StopWatch & Timer
There is nothing better than setting the right tone right from the get go. Students may need a little reminder of the time frame for each task. Perhaps you need a reminder to help you pace your lesson. Having a good timer in you tool belt is a great way to increase productivity. There are many different timers out there for Android, iOS, and web-based. Here are our recommendations.
Learning Management System
A learning management system is one way a teacher can create a 24/7 environment in which students can be responsible for their own learning. Students can communicate with their teachers and work in an online environment at any given time. Check back here for more on this topic. Here are some of our favorites.