Monday, March 10, 2008

Blogging with Students

Today I started my afterschool blogging club. Known as “tech explorers” these 4th and 5th graders (and one intrepid 3rd grader) began the creation of their own blogs on edublogs.

First of all, some thanks are in order. I have to thank the ever-inspiring Silvia Tolisano (langwitches) for sharing the idea of doing an afterschool blogging group, as well as the practical “how-to” advice she shares on her blog. Thanks also to my principal for agreeing to it, to my assistant, Kim, for helping me set up the blog accounts (and picking up snacks). Most importantly, thank you to my wonderful students for being so excited to be part of this new, fun and creative activity, and thank you to their parents for allowing them to participate.After much thought and a lot of checking out of different options for student blogs I decided to go with individual edublogs accounts for each student. I feel that one of the biggest motivations for blogging is the creative expression, so I want each student to have control over the look and feel of their blog, as well as what is posted. I created user names in advance, and today in class, the students activated their own blogs by choosing a domain name and a title for the blog. They also chose a theme and some wrote an introductory post.

Before we got started with the nitty-gritty, I showed some examples of student blogs. I always start any project or lesson by showing some quality examples. The blogs I showed today were Digital Depictions by Cai (age 9) and some of Silvia’s students’ blogs. We also discussed our Tech Explorers’ Code of Safe Online Conduct. This, too, was the outcome of a lot of thought and exploration of others teachers’ work. Different teachers have different guidelines as to what constitutes online safety. I think that what is most important is that the subject is discussed and re-visited as necessary. I feel so strongly that we need to teach our students to use the emerging technologies thoughtfully.

The students were very excited, and many of them expressed the desire to work on their blogs at home.

I have also started a class blog with my 5th grade class. If you have followed any of my rambling "using technology to do good in the world" posts, this blog, called 17 Chances to Help, is the next step in our tech-related mitzvah project. It is slow-going, as I have retained administrative control over that blog, and I only see the class once a week. But I think we will be working on this project for the rest of the school year. I am interested to see how this project takes shape and what the students learn from it (and, of course, what I learn from it). Please check that blog from time to time as we add content to it. I know the students would really welcome comments.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for describing how you set up this project and the links. I am thinking about doing this next year. Being a first year tech teacher I don't feel ready to try this quite yet. However,this will be a handy reference when I begin to plan it out over the summer. Hmmmm, that reminds me I need to set up my next appointment with my superintendent to discuss blogging and to convince her that it is safe. That is my first hurdle to overcome. Let me know when your students are ready for comments and good luck.

Andrea said...

Thanks for your comment. Please let me know if I can be of any help as you go through the process. I had to overcome the administrator hurdle as well. There is so much to support the educational benefits of blogging with students; the benefits far outweigh any risks. I talk openly with the students about risks, as well as addressing it with the parents.

Please stop by or have your students stop by any of my students' blogs to comment.

IMC Guy said...

Are you interesting in sharing some of the students' writing? I started blogging with some 6th graders. Some are doing okay, others are struggling. I think it would be a great benefit for my students to see blogs other students have written. Send me an email or a tweet.