by Hope Morley
A class blog is a great way to connect with parents, inspire your students, and meet the Common Core standards. The CCSS Writing standards require students to produce and publish writing on the Internet, as well as adjust writing for different audiences and purposes.
According to a study done last year by the Pew Research Internet Project, 96% of teachers agree that digital technologies benefit students by helping them share writing with wider audiences. Students are writing and reading a lot online, but that language often isn’t appropriate for the classroom. Increasingly, students are using the same general voice whether they’re texting their peers or writing a formal report. Many students are unable to distinguish when to adjust voice and tone for audience; others simply don’t know how. As students prepare for college and the workplace, however, attention to audience may mean the difference between getting a job and offending a boss.
How do you go about preparing your students for college and career while hitting those technology standards? With a class blog of course!
First and foremost, get permission from your administration and parents before publishing any student work online. Set ground rules, such as no last names for younger students.
Choose a Platform
There are plenty of options out there, but here are a few good options for teachers and students.
- Blogger: Google’s free blogging platform is user-friendly and easy to set up if you already have a Google account. This platform is best for one class blog. While it is fairly intuitive, save this platform for middle or high school students.
- Weebly: Weebly is ideal for teachers who want each student to have their own blogs. The teacher creates an umbrella site for the whole class, and then creates individual blogs for each student. Weebly’s drag and drop design is intuitive and easy even for younger students. Weebly has the option to password protect your class blog, which is a great privacy feature.
- Edublogs: Edublogs are made for teachers and provide plenty of protections for students, though most of the best features require a paid account. Paying teachers can easily monitor comments and blogs from a master account. Edublogs is powered by WordPress, which can be a difficult platform to master.
- Pen: Do you want students to post their work online only once or twice during the year? Try Pen. This easy website allows anyone to post work online to a unique URL with no log in required.
Set Rules and Expectations
Before mentioning a blog to your students, figure out what the rules and expectations will be. Are comments allowed? If so, what happens to students who post mean-spirited or offensive comments? How will students be graded? If there’s a rubric, share it with students. How often and when do students need to post? Should students be reading and providing feedback on each other’s posts? Put answers to all these questions in writing (hey, that sounds like a good first blog post!).
Once you have a blog up and running, set a schedule for posting. Will students post a reflection on the blog every Friday about what they learned? Is the blog a forum for book reviews or short analytical essays? (Be aware that not all students have Internet access at home and should be given time in class or after school to post their work.) What’s the process for corrections?
Have students think about their audience when they post. Who might be interested in reading this work? Who might stumble on it from Google? Bloggers should always have their audience in mind before they start to write.
Do you use a blog in your classroom? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT.