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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

a beginner's guide to blogging with students


I've been wanting to write about blogging with students for so long, I'm glad I'm finally getting around to it! Today's challenge prompt is to write a beginner's guide to something, and so I'm sharing blogging with kiddos. Unfortunately, this post was turning into a novel of mass proportions, so I'm going to break it down into a three part series:
  1. Preparing for student bloggers and various platforms
  2. Blog set-up and the Google + method (Saturday, July 18th)
  3. Student beginnings (Monday, July 27th)
Preparations for Student Bloggers
I highly recommend that the teacher starts a blog. There are a few reasons for this:

The first reason is out of necessity. You'll need one main page to hub all the student blogs. Your students will save the teacher page in their bookmarks, and will easily be able to access all their peers' blogs. Before I was writing consistently here on BigTime Literacy, I created my own site with Edublogs - click here to see that page. You can find my former students' blogs down the right-hand side of the page. Also, as you can see on the center blog posting space, I used this page to post the Do-Nows for my students to work on when they entered the room. They'd get to class, head over to my blog, and find out what to do.

Tip: Student blogs could also be hubbed on a static page. In my case right now, I have a blogging club. I only have about 15-20 kids who blog in my club, so in this case, they are listed on my sidebar. However, if I were a middle school teacher with upwards of 80-100 students, I'd create a page in my navbar for Student Bloggers. They would all stay hubbed there, rather than on my sidebar. Having any more than 20 student blog links on the sidebar would definitely be way too much for your readers. I already feel like my sidebar is overwhelming!

The second reason you'll want your own blog is because ideally, you will be blogging alongside your students. I can't tell you how much knowledge I've gained as a writer from my blogging. If we are planning to provide demonstration and mini-lesson in a blogging unit, we need to be living that writerly life to help us determine what knowledge the students need! Here's a post from a teacher I follow sharing about how her teachers are taking this leap to bloggers!

Finally, you'll want to start a blog on the platform you intend to use to get comfortable with it. What platforms are there, exactly? I know of Blogger, obviously, but then there's WordPress, KidBlog, and Edublogs.

Student Blogger Platforms
Blogger and Kidblog and Edublogs, oh my!

If it were up to me, my kids would be blogging with blogger. It's what I use, it's what I know, it's what I'm comfortable with. But, I ran into problems because they were so young. With elementary kids, you'll want to use KidBlog (which I am not familiar with) or Edublogs (which is what my kids use!)

Edublogs is affiliated with Wordpress. Unfortunately I do not know Wordpress very well, so when I plan mini-lessons for kids, I have to take my time to figure things out. But, it's worth it and here's why:

Your kids will have so much choice with Edublogs. They can choose from more than 300 designs and templates for designing the look of their blog. They can play around with it and get it to look just how they'd like it. This choice will really engage your upper elementary kids! Additionally, kids need choice in their URL. The blogs you see attached to my old page were all done by formula: first name, last initial, hms dot edublogs dot org... like alexischms.edublogs.org. I made them, not the kids. I made the kids write blogs about books. Only books. There was no engagement in blogging with my former students - they didn't get to live blogging for what's so amazing about it! The choice in naming your very own blog! The choice in writing about anything you'd like! The response to pieces you chose to publish! How I wish I could go back and change all that!

What's also great about Edublogs is that (I'm pretty sure) when your students are older, they can convert their Edublog into a Wordpress blog if they'd like to keep writing!

So to recap with this first post of 3:
  1. Classroom teacher should start a blog on platform of choice to...
    • Hub student blogs,
    • get used to writing and publishing posts (which will inform your insruction), and
    • to get to know the platform.
  2. Use Edublogs to offer choice - choice in design, layout, and also provide choice in URL.

I'll be back on Saturday with Part 2 of this series: Blog set-up and the Google + method. Make sure to follow me so you don't miss that post!

There's probably still lots that is not crossing my mind. Do you have questions about blogging with kids? Those would really help me to refine my upcoming posts if you'd like to leave them in comments!
Get the details for this challenge here!


1 comment:

  1. As always, great and timely information. Thanks Michelle. I have so much going on in my head right now from this and a few other places that I'm glad I'm not in school!!! Time for me to get serious about my goals for tech and how to achieve them. Have a great Wednesday!
    Alyce

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