Monday, January 11, 2016

Start a Class Blog

As teachers, we're always looking for a way to make learning "authentic."  That can be a challenge when it comes to writing.  Sure, students can write a letter, article for a newspaper, or argument, but where is the real audience?

Start a class blog to give your students a chance for authentic writing.As adults, we know the importance of writing for an audience.  Our audience changes the tone, word choice, sentence structure, organization, presentation, and even the conventions we use.  

We can see proof of this in something as simple as the texts we send that are filled with emojis!  (Wouldn't it be fun to write your resume with emojis??)

Hosting a classroom blog is an ideal way to get students writing authentically.  Students are writing for a world audience!  Spelling, conventions, content, tone...all of it matters!  

Not only that, students are learning how to be responsible members of a digital community.   

I used Edublogs to create my class blog -- it's free (every teacher's magic word!), but there are other blogging platforms you can use.

You can decide the level of control you want over your blog -- who can post and make comments.  You may even decide to allow your students to create their own blogs.  

The advantages:  
    Get started blogging with your class!
  • connecting to students and people around the world.  One year, we were blogging buddies with a class in Australia.  The visitor widget on our blog let us know where our visitors were coming from -- all over the world!
  • staying in touch.  When a classmate moved to Mexico, we were able to stay in contact through our blog.  Grandparents and parents could read about what was going on in our classroom.
  • extending the writing day.  Posting a "question of the week" or writing challenge kept my students writing.  
  • inside jokes galore!  We know how middle school students love the inside joke -- the blog just kept them going!
  • editing and proofreading practice!
  • evidence that spelling really does matter!
  • a platform for voice.  Students can practice writing with voice -- a skill that we often don't have time to teach.
The disadvantages:
  • know and follow your school's privacy rules!  Make sure you teach internet safety to your students as well.
  • the learning curve!  If you are not familiar with blogging, plan on spending time playing with the blogging platform you've chosen.  You can use a pre-set template, but you'll want to be able to monitor comments and add fun widgets.  You don't need to be a blogging expert in order to get your blog up and running, but you'll be happier if you spend some time playing with it.
  • getting students up and running.  If you don't have access to student computers, tablets, or technology, it will be more challenging to help students figure out how to respond to blog posts, but you can do it!
January is an ideal time to start a class blog.  You've already established your class routines, you
know your students, and it will energize your class (new technology!!)  It will also give you a taste of how you want to run your blog next year. (Because once you start your class blog, you will want to continue!)

Give a class blog a try!  If you are interested in learning more, I've created a guide to running a class blog.  You can find it on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Happiness always,


3 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic post, Marypat! Having a class blog is something all middle school teachers should use in their classroom :) Thank you for creating a great guide, too!

    Caitlin
    www.teachinspirechange.com

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    Replies
    1. Great idea - sort of like a 2016 adaptation of Pen Pal letters.

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