With the advent of education technology, thousands of schools have taken the great step of signing up to class blogs, giving students and teachers a chance to flex their creative and technological muscles simultaneously. But after the first few exciting weeks, class blogging can become something of a drag, as the initial flood of ideas slows to a trickle and students and teachers find it difficult to think of inspiration for new posts. Whether you want to breathe new life into your blog or stimulate your students with new and exciting blogging assignments here are 10 innovative ideas for classroom blogs…
Remember blogging doesn’t have to be restricted to long written posts. A great way to enthuse students is to encourage them to make their own video blog contributions; perhaps reporting on an interesting news story or creating their own informative report on a recent class topic. (Or let them put together their own photographs and music using a great tool like Animoto to turn them into exciting video content.)
Many classrooms start out with great education technology intentions when they decide to launch a blog but never really push it to its full potential. Take the opportunity to teach students how to embed video into posts and manually enter code to create effects like bold font and hyperlinks. (Check out the two free lessons available to download from My Kid Can Code!)
A great trick for getting readers to keep coming back for more as well as engaging your students with an on-going project. Get students to create a long story, using their creative writing to keep it going for as long as possible, and upload a new section to the blog every few days, making sure to leave each week on an exciting cliff-hanger…
Encourage pupils to illustrate their own posts, whether by sourcing exciting usable photos from a website like Creative Commons or even drawing their own diagrams and comic strips to publish alongside their posts. (Try FlockDraw, a free online whiteboard-based painting and drawing tool that allows multiple students to create a picture together).
A great way to combine spicing up your class blog with getting your students to practice different forms of writing. Try choosing a completely different style for the class blog each week – one week might take the form of a factual newspaper article, the next a formal letter, the next a sensational magazine article etc. The subject can still be school related, but their imagination doesn’t have to be limited- instead of describing a recent field trip, why not write it up like an advert for the school, with pictures and sensational language emphasising the best aspects of the experience?
Blogging is always more exciting for students when they can tell they have an audience and get some response to their posts, so make sure you enable and encourage comments on your classroom blog. Just remember to use a platform that allows moderation of comments before they are posted to ensure nothing inappropriate can be added. (Edublogs is a great site offering free blogs custom-designed for school settings.)
Pupils often find it difficult to summarise classroom news or events in a blog and may be reluctant to compose articles on topics they know their classmates will be familiar with already. But writing an exciting report on a holiday experience or weekend activity is a different matter altogether – get students to create ‘dispatch’ style updates on their adventures to upload and share.
Classroom blogs are a great way to connect with other schools and peer groups from around the country and even the world. Consider twinning your blog with another school in a different country and using posts to update them on your recent classroom activities and topics learned. (Check out Skype Classroom to find a suitable class to connect with.) Another great way to team up your blog is to look at the QuadBlogging model where multiple schools/classes contribute to the same site.
A great way to engage students with a classroom blog is to use it to spark exciting classroom investigations. Try using the weekly blog to create a cryptic description of a particular subject item, from a particular element in chemistry to a Shakespeare play in English and invite them to compete to research and guess which topic is being described.
Holding a best blog competition (or ‘blog off’!) is a great way to encourage students to pull out all the stops in creating exciting, informative content for the classroom blog. You can even make the event interactive, by designing a poll to allow other students to vote for their favourite posts! (Try using a site like Survey Monkey to let students create polls quickly and simply). Or, to encourage teamwork, get every class in your school to start a weekly blog and award prizes at the end of term for categories like ‘most hits’, ‘most informative’ and ‘most entertaining’.
Do you have any great ideas for class blogs? Or have you seen a specific class blog that you think leads the pack? Let us know below!