In my short four years, I have not come across anything so awesome, that ticks all the boxes like blogging does!
So why should you start blogging with your class?
I have written about the many benefits of blogging on my own personal blog here. From a personal perspective, I blog myself because it allows me to reflect – an important trait in teachers. Also, writing my thoughts down allows me to critically analyse situations. (It also makes me sound a lot smarter than I do in person!)
I originally learned about blogging from a colleague who had started a blog for her class. Her choice was to keep the blog private and have it as a place of student reflection on their learning and their reading. I did really like the way she used the blog and I witnessed the voice it gave her students and how much their writing improved but to me, it felt like there was something missing.
To me, blogging is about flattening classroom walls and making connections with the world outside of the classroom. After attending a professional development session with Kathleen Morris (who taught me almost everything I know about blogging) and Kelly Jordan, I had made my decision that I would create a class blog and it would be open for the world to see.
Blogging is about flattening classroom walls and making connections with the world.
While there are many, many possibilities and benefits of blogging with a class, in my own classroom, I have noticed improvements in six key areas:
In teaching how to post good quality comments and demanding well written pieces for guest posts, these high expectations mean that students are determined to improve their literacy skills. Somehow, knowing that what they are writing will be available on the Internet for everyone to see, students acknowledge that poorly punctuated and substandard written comments are not acceptable. Nor should they be – in anything they do! I have seen dramatic improvement in writing – better use of punctuation and expanded vocabulary – and also in reading skills because there is a purpose for students.
2. ICT Skills:
Blogging itself has led to other projects using other Web tools which have also increased the skills in ICT of my students. I have 8-10 year olds who can perform an advanced search in Google to find images that they have permission to use in their work. There are adults that I know who wouldn’t know where to even begin to do this! (Don’t feel ashamed – I only found out a couple of weeks ago myself!)
3. Classroom Community:
Most mornings, we look at our class blog in our community circle. I can see the excitement on my students’ faces when they notice our ‘global visitors’ counter (Clustrmap widget) has increased. The students feel more connected as a class, and you can certainly tell by the amount of their own personal time that they spend on our blog leaving comments!
4. Home/School Partnerships:
Not only do the parents love having a window into the happenings of my classroom but so do siblings of my students! I know parents are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to see what we’re doing in class and participate in online conversations with us. We recently held a Family Blogging Afternoon where my students showed off their skills to parents and family members by completing a quiz with them and teaching them how to leave a good quality comment. We also launched Family Blogging Month which allowed for family and friends from all over the world to comment on what we were doing.
5. Internet Safety:
I love having the opportunity to teach my students how to be safe on the internet and create a positive digital footprint in an authentic setting!
6. Global Connections:
I have never seen my students so motivated as when they are collaborating with other classes on projects. We have worked with classes in New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia and Australia on a variety of projects. We have used Skype to help us form connections. We even had the chance to organise a day where my students met their blogging buddies in person! Not to mention the opportunities for my students to develop their knowledge of other places in the world. This is probably my favourite reason for blogging – flattening those classroom walls!
If you’ve already begun your blogging journey in your classroom, I’m sure you would have seen these benefits. If you are stuck for ideas about where to go next, Celia Coffa has written excellent recommendations for classroom blogging that I suggest you take a look at (You Have a Class Blog – Now What?)
Enjoy your journey. My class would love to connect with you whenever you feel comfortable reaching out!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, manoftaste.de.