Blogging within the Classroom

Please click on the link below for the survey.

http://Click here to take survey
So, what is a blog you may ask?

Oxford Dictionary defines a blog as follows:

“a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2012)

The actual word”blog” is an abbreviation of weblog (Oxford Dictionaries, 2012).

Basically it is an electronic journal entry. The information contain in blogs is unlimited and wide ranging. Many bloggers use website such as this one wordpress or tumblr to create and add to their blogs, but there are websites for blogs  which cater to a specific topic such as education. Edublogs is a website in which blogs are based around the field of education, and provide much information for not only pre-service teachers, but as well as many in service teachers across all domains of education, from primary right through to the tertiary field.

The following YouTube clip gives a brief history of blogs.

Now we know what blogs and blogging is about, lets discover who can blog.

The simple answer of who can blog is………………. anyone. But we are going to place blogging into the context of the class room. So both teachers and students can blog.

According to the Department of Education of Western Australia blogs are a viable communication tool and class room activity. Blogs  aid in the development of writing skills, the sharing of ideas and enables reflective practice (Department of Education Western Australia, 2012). Blogs facilitate communication between all stakeholders of the school environment, from students, parents and community leaders.

Teachers blog for a variety of reason, depending on the targeted audience.

They may blog to share and inform other teachers about their experiences and resources, their beliefs , ethics and practices. They may also share professional development learning. Blogs can be used as a reflective tool for teachers.

They may use a noticeboard type of blog to communicate with parents and students. Here they can post examples of students work (if permitted) for parents to gain a deeper insight in what is happening within the class room. Blogs can be used as  another form of communication tool for  both students, parents and teachers (Supportblogging.com, 2012).

To engage and extend students in critical thinking skills in relation to topics study either that day or week, by posting discussion questions which students are required to respond to. This also can aid in the development of teaching students in understanding and appreciating the diverse perspectives of their peers (Supportblogging.com, 2012) .

Students can blog as well. They may be required to contribute to a class blog, by responding to a discussion question or a post. They may also maintain their own individual blog as a way of recording their journey of learning and discovery, and the sharing of their portfolio.  The flexible format of blogs and the ability of uploading information in varying ways caters to the diverse learning needs and styles of the students. For example, students who are self conscious about their writing ability can upload their contributions in the form of a voice animated blog using either voki or xtranormal. Blogs can be used as a way for students to share and brainstorm ideas about assignments ,receive feedback on assignments and ideas, as well as a collaboration tool(Supportblogging.com, 2012) .

Below is a link in which just one teacher from Victoria who has integrated blogging into her normal class room routines.

Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom

Now, you maybe thinking blogging is confined to the four walls of the class room, but this could not be further from the truth. With technology forever evolving has provided the consumer with greater freedom  of  choice of when and where they choose to interact with the world around them. The computer is no longer the only vehicle for blogging, the invention of the smart phone and the tablet and apps has allowed the consumer to access the World Wide Web anywhere and anytime. The clip below shows an extreme example of the ultimate mobile blogger.

The why of blogging is brought to using Prezi.

Copy of The Why and How of Blogging and Blogs on Prezi

TeachersFirst.com provide the following steps in how to set up a class blog

Ensure the school policy supports blogging in the class room. Some questions you could ask to ensure the safety of the students are:

  • principal is aware of the blog
  • parent permission for students to participate in the blog
  • posting/commenting is monitored and approved by the teacher
  • the blog is “gated,” i.e. visible ONLY to members with the password (students/parents/admin)
  • the blog is visible to anyone but comments are limited to members
  • the blog is visible and can receive moderated comments from the public
  • no actual student names are visible (uses initials or pseudonyms)
  • no student has an identifiable profile
  • no recognizable student images are on the blog
  • students must read and sign a blog user agreement
  • consequences for misuse of the blog are spelled out in advance and administered through   the school’s student disciplinary system
  • the blog is hosted on a reputable, established web site
  • the school’s  internet filtering does not block the chosen blogging tool

Choose a reputable platform for your blog, such as wordpress or tumblr which we previously mentioned.

Decide on who may read, post and comment on the blog. All posts should be moderated. Also considered who can register and who sees the names.

Clearly and concisely spell out the rules and the consequences of using the blog.

Ensure that everyone registers and signs into the blog.

Arrange access for everyone that is involved.

Remember to moderate periodically to ensure content is suitable for students and student safety.

Re-evaluate the viability and the success of the blog as a teaching and learning tool.

The following links provides examples and support for educational blogs and blogging,

http://supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers
http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/techlp/techlp055.shtml
http://wiki.classroom20.com/Blogging

http://

Discussion Question.

Using a PMI (Plus, Minus and Interesting) approach, please comment below your current understanding of blogs and their use in the class room, as well as your  own learning. Additionally feel free to provide comments and feedback on anything located within this page, or to ask a question to help clarify anything.
Comments
  1. Kim Sandford says:

    I do not know much about blogging but find it an interesting tool for classroom use.
    Plus – Use as a reflective tool, share ideas, discussion tool,
    Minus – May take away emphisis on handwriting if used to often, students may get distracted using Voki and not focus on the task.
    Interesting – Could be a great tool for students with limited fine motor skills (writing).

  2. Amanda says:

    Plus – blogging can connect you with other schools from around the country and overseas
    Minus – keeping blogging regular even in the busier times
    Interesting – to see the students engage with the blogging and to see whether they learn and enjoy blogging regularly

    • Hi Amanda

      I love the idea that through blogs students can communicate to such a wide and diverse audience, where they will be able to read a vast array of different perspectives on any topic, which aids them in developing into global citizens don’t you think?

      To create and maintain a blog definitely requires effort on behalf of the teacher. A classic example of this is with my son’s grade 2 class. The teacher created a class blog, but first of all it was not advertised very well amongst the parents, and I don’t think the students were scaffolded sufficiently to fully comprehend the benefits of the blog. My son was eager and posted a reply to his teacher, and he waited and waited and waited. When no response was forthcoming from the teacher, I advised him to inform her that he had posted something on the class blog for her to view. That was last semester, he is still waiting for a reply. So if you are considering in creating a blog, I think you need to allocate time to maintain it to ensure that it is having the desired outcomes that you had originally planned for it to achieve.

      Having read the benefits of blogging, I too would be very interested in seeing if students engage in the blog and if so for how long and does it improve their literacy skills. Also how do you think you could assess these benefits. Are they purely academic or can you think of other benefits that blogs and blogging may have?

  3. Bec White says:

    I have also had not experience in using blogs but after reading all the information above can see its relevance in the classroom.
    P: Communication- between students, teacher, parents, school, wider community and around the world.
    Student responsibility- if students are responsible for the blog they will need to ensure they respond to posts, update it and ensure information and responses are appropriate.
    Safe place for students to share their ideas, views and beliefs on certain topics. Teachers can also communicate to students outside of school through posting their homework or providing feedback.

    M: Time restraints and teachers dedication to setting it up and running it. Using the blogs instead of using pen and paper means that students can just use spell check and copy and paste information from other sources instead of drafting, writing and proof reading.

    I: There is so much you can do with blogs. You can have a class blog presenting all of students work and upcoming events so it is a constant gallery of student achievement for others to see. Students can communicate and share their views with other students around the world. Students can also view blogs about certain topics and gain greater insight. Furthermore, teachers can learn about and share resources and information about teaching and learning with other teachers.

    • Hi Bec

      I am glad that after reading our page about blogs, you will consider using them as a part of your future pratice.

      The positives of blogs are fantastic, are they not? Blogs can be far more engaging then an email. So instead of the weekly school new letter how which is usually in black and white and quite dull, how much more engaging would a school blog be? The school could really showcase their students achievements in such a more interactive manner.

      In regards to copy and paste, that could be a concern, but if students are explicitly taught the expectations and consequences then this point could be overcome. The skills that are associated with writing with pen and paper still apply t electronic writing. I would expect my students, whether they are writing electronically or not still engage in the drafting, proof reading and editing processes.

      The possibilities and uses of blogs is only limited I think by our own imagination and confidence don’t you think?

      Kaaren

  4. Martina Sellars says:

    Just quickly, I’d first like to thank and congratulate you on the voki application. I had good fun just watching his eyes follow my cursor – so I can imagine how much the students would love it! I now have it bookmarked, thank you!

    Positive:
    – Encourages collaborative learning
    – Engages students (they usually engage more when it is something different, such as using ICT)
    – Can be utilised at any time (particularly handy for the students with laptops and internet access at home)
    – Shows students the educational uses of ICT
    – Can enhance community involvement (eg. parents and administration)

    Negative:
    – Requires appropriate time for set-up and monitoring
    – Need to investigate the most appropriate method of ensuring content is appropriate
    – May take away from face-to-face interactions (need to ensure students are people-savvy as well as tech-savvy)

    Interesting:
    – I would love to see one fully set-up. How much time does it take to set-up? How much work/time are the students expected to put in (ie. is it daily or weekly usage, or on a lesson-by-lesson basis)? Could this be linked appropriately and effectively to assessment (component of the task is communication and collaboration)?

    Just my thoughts!

    – Martina

    • Hi Martina
      as Kaaren is away at work at the moment I will attempt to answer some of your questions. Kaaren will follow up when she is back. blogs are an excellent tool for teachers and students. I think once you have gone through the initial set up and work with the blog for a while it does get easier and you find more and more applications.

      the time that you want students to put into a blog is really up to the teacher and the requirements they set up. some use them daily others weekly. but blogging is a great way to get students communicating but more importantly using literacies. Students that don’t normally enjoy writing have been known to love blogging. The way you can communicate with not only the people in your class but from other places.

      I think one of the problems is sometimes teachers try to do too much instead of staring small and building over time. they fail and give up using blogs because of this. Never really giving it a chance to succeed.

      I am sure Kaaren who not only created this page but also the whole blog will be able to give you more information regarding time to create etc
      Cheers Michelle Irving

    • Hi Martina
      I am glad you like the voki. When I was creating it I was thinking how this application could be used in the classroom, especially with special needs children, For example a ASD child with a fixation with Aliens, teacher could you a voki alien for lesson instruction and the child could respond as an alien. Just a thought, do you have another idea?

      I think the positives of using a blog outweigh the negatives. The potential is really only limited by the blogs creator knowledge and experience.

      face to face interaction is vital, but blogs have the ability for students to engage in conversations with people from all over the world, which is also vital don’t you think? The more intimate you are with blogs issues such as monitoring content become easier. Like all things worthwhile there is an initial requirement of time to be invested, but the rewards would be worth it don’t you think?

      The more familiar you are with blogs the easier they are to set up, monitor and troubleshoot. The time students spend on the blog is at the teacher discretion. Through researching I did
      read somewhere how a teacher use blogs for about 30 minutes a day, as a part of her literacy program. Also teachers have used blogs for assessment as well.

      Thanks for participating and I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily

      Kaaren

  5. Ashleigh says:

    Plus:
    Blogs encourage communities and collaboration. They are a great way to both learn and share information. They allow students to be creative. Allows other interested parties (such as other schools, parents, other teachers, and other students) to access the information. A class blog could give the students an online identity to be proud of.

    Minus:
    A public blog would be at risk of people saying inappropriate things. Blogs would have to be carefully monitored by teachers.

    Interesting:
    By introducing blogs in schools teachers are assisting students to become more competent with ICTs. It also gives teachers the opportunity to teach students how they should and should not act online and what information should be kept private.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks for your ideas here Ashleigh.
      You are right in that a public blog would possibly be an inappropriate tool to use in the classroom – restrictions and editing comments before they are permitted to be posted are settings that should definitely be used by teachers in their practices.
      Your ideas that modelling the correct behavior when using blogs is also one that we felt was important.
      Thanks again for participating.
      Christine
      (on behalf of Kaaren due to late hour)

    • Hi Ashleigh

      Blogs do have the ability for students to not only be creative but also critical as well. These two skills are vital and are a part of the national curriculum.

      Monitoring is essential I agree. Also I think students need to be taught the expectations of what is require and what is deemed inappropriate. Blogs can be public, but they also can have a limited audience as well. This again will be at the teacher’s and school discretion.

      It is vital when students are engaging in ICT that they are taught what is deem appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Do you think this point is often overlooked?

      Kaaren.

  6. Emma Salter says:

    Plus:
    Blogs are interactive, collaborative and provide functions, in particular group assignments could use this form or technology or it could also used when students are away on school camps, the teacher could be in control of the blog that way parents could be assured that students are well and happy (most school camps ban mobile phones).
    Minus:
    If open to public view/access the whole internet community can view it.
    Interesting:
    I would be interested in using a blog in a classroom context, it could be used as a weekly post where students commented on their learning or posted what they would like to learn within a certain subject.

    • Hi Emma

      I love the fact that blogs are interactive and so many other applications can be embedded within a blogs, such as Prezi’s presentations, vokis and xtranormal. I think this ability not only engages people but also caters to different learning styles.

      The ability for the public to view the blog does have some negatives, but also have positives as well don’t you think? Through their writing on the blog students will be engaging a live audience, which increases the relevance of the process of writing process. Can you think of other positives that being exposed to the public could have?

      Blogs are a great reflective tool, for both teachers and students.

      Thanks

      Kaaren

  7. Ana Gonzalez says:

    P: – Blogging can be done anywhere and at anytime. This allows homeschool students, online students, disable students, quiet students, ESL students and all other students a way of communicating and learning with others when they are able to not just during set sessions.
    – Versatile. Blogs can be use in so many different ways and in many areas of the school curriculum. One just needs to be creative. This versatility allows us to see as teachers the students creativity too. It opens new windows to new ideas.
    – Using blogs is a way of connecting to our students world

    M: – It could be misused and just as anything if not properly plan and thought of it might become ‘just’ another activity students have to do
    – Safety concerns

    I: – The prezi presentation gave some information about how blogs help ESL students. Being an ESL student myself, I found this interesting and it gave me more reasons to consider blogs when planning

    • Hi Ana
      I will answer on Kaaren’s behalf. blogging is a great tool. glad you found it something that you could utilize I your classroom. I watched a video recently that states that students love blogging and will even do it in their own time! It also stated students who were not great in relation to literacy were improving greatly with the use of blogs.
      I think this is one tool I too will Definately use in my teaching. As you pointed out there are those who misuse it but I remember those who misused the compasses when I went to school. stabbing each other was not what they were intended for!
      Cheers
      Michelle

  8. This is the results of the survey polled-

    Response Summary

    Total Started Survey:
    8

    Total Finished Survey:
    8 (100%)

    Page: 1

    DownloadCreate Chart1. Would you consider yourself a Digital Immigrant or Digital Native?

    answered question
    8

    skipped question

    0

    Response
    Percent

    Response
    Count

    Digital Immigrant

    50.0% 4
    Digital Native

    50.0% 4

    DownloadCreate Chart2. How would you rate your current knowledge and understanding about Blogs and Blogging?

    answered question
    8

    skipped question

    0

    Response
    Percent

    Response
    Count

    Limited

    25.0% 2
    Average

    62.5% 5
    Above Average

    12.5% 1
    A Pro 0.0% 0

    DownloadCreate Chart3. Have you ever blogged before?

    answered question
    8

    skipped question

    0

    Response
    Percent

    Response
    Count

    Yes

    50.0% 4
    No

    50.0% 4

    DownloadCreate Chart4. In regards to Question 3, if answered yes did you respond to a post, operate your own blog or both?

    answered question
    4

    skipped question

    4

    Response
    Percent

    Response
    Count

    Respond to a post

    25.0% 1
    Operate your own blog 0.0% 0
    Both

    75.0% 3

    Download5. Have you ever considered using blogs as part of your classroom practice and why or why not?

    answered question
    8

    skipped question

    0

    Response
    Percent

    Response
    Count

    Yes. Please explain your response
    Show Responses

    62.5% 5
    No. Please explain your response
    Show Responses

    37.5% 3

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