How Blogs Can Be Used In the Classroom

This post is created for Professional Development for KCUSD, October 24, 2012.

In this 40 minute session attendees will:

  • Familiarize themselves with different [blogging] host options: kidblog, Blogger (part of our Google Apps), Edublogs, and Weebly.
  • Kidblog will be the primary focus for this session.
  • Be able to leave with the knowledge on how to begin a classroom blog.
  • Be able to use their new blog for assessment purposes.
  • Be able to maintain a simple blog.

Blogging is an informal way to communicate thoughts and ideas. Many ‘posts’ contain pictures or videos to enhance the reader’s experience. Think of a blog as a journal, and each post as a journal entry. However, educators are using blogging in the classroom to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and into the 21st Century. Students can now communicate with other students around the world through blogging.

There are some really great options for hosting your blog. For beginners, Kidblog is easy to manage. As a 3rd grade teacher I found this easy for my students and myself to manage. Choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. For the purposes of this PD we will look at Kidblog. After you sign up, this is what you will see, minus my posts and comments.

You have a few options for blogging. You can A) be the sole blogger and have your students post comments, B) be a blogger and assign a select few their own blog (which you will approve all posts and comments for), or C) be a blogger and assign each student in your class a blog (which you will approve all posts and comments for). The choice is really yours. There is no right way.

Now let’s get you set up. Go to kidblog.org and choose ‘Create a Class’

Sign up using your school email (it’s Google).

On the next page, you will need to choose the blue button “Always Allow”. You will only need to do this step when you first sign up.

Now you need to name your class.

Now you are ready to begin! You are now looking at your dashboard. This is your command central. To get started and make sure the world can see you, we need to go to settings.

I place a link on my website for my students and parents to have quick access.

Kidblog has several themes you can choose from. All you have to do is decide which one works best for you.

Changing the time has proven useful for me. I have asked students to respond to a post, or create their own, if the time is at 10pm, I know a parent or older sibling is doing the work for them!

Remember to save all changes before moving to the next page.

Next, we will go to the ‘Posts’ section in ‘Settings’.

We are still in Settings.

Choose the ‘Posts’ button.

CHANGE ‘Who may read my posts?’ to ‘everybody’. This makes it easier for parents and students to comment.

Next, check mark the two boxes that state Admin/Teacher/Moderator must approve posts before they appear. This is useful when you assign students their own blog.

Having a message sent to you regarding posts waiting for approval makes your life easier too.

Finally, remember to save all changes.

Now we will look at our ‘Comments’ settings.
We are still in the main ‘Settings’.

We are in ‘comments’.

You will notice that this looks very similar to the ‘Posts’ settings.

CHANGE the setting ‘Who may leave comments on posts?’ to ‘All visitors’. Not only will it encourage students, parents, and grandparents to comment, but you can then encourage other classes or schools to comment.

Comment approval is already checked to be approved before they appear.

Again, check the notification box.

Finally, save all changes.

 If you want students to have their own blog, select ‘Users’ and ‘Add New Users’.

I find it easiest to set the display name as the student’s first name.

I often keep the password the same as the display name. This way it’s easier for younger students to remember.

Keep their role as ‘student’

And finally, save all changes.

You and your students are now ready to start blogging! Simply select ‘New Post’ at the top of the page and begin writing. It’s that easy.

How do students get in you ask?

Now what?

Now that you are all set up, the uses are limitless. I have used blogging as a form of assessment:

  • For assessing on a post I write, I pose a question or problem. The students then answer.
  • For assessing on their blog, I have students respond to a question or problem that I have posted on their blog. I did this by accessing each student blog and copy/paste the question. This way, each student is working on his/her own blog without copying what someone else may have written (which can happen in the above example).
  • Another way to assess, is to have students explain on concept on their blog. This way I don’t have to go in and post on each blog first. For example, I will have students explain how to multiply two numbers.
  • I have used it for assessing writing. I give students a choice of 4 or 5 topics or writing prompts to choose from. They then respond on their blog. We have a scale (rubric) in class, so they know what I expect.
  • I also expect students to comment on each other’s posts. Again, there is a scale to avoid such comments as, “Good job!” The comments should be specific and part of the topic.

Families can also get involved. Many times the family members comment on the student blogs, making it even more meaningful and powerful for the students. The idea that the world can read what they write is a powerful motivator for quality writing.

Happy blogging to everyone!

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