Tips On Blogging With Students

We’ve set up a Getting Started With Edublogs page on this blog to provide a central location for “how to” resources. Please let us know if you have any resources to add to this page.

Meantime we receive many requests for tips on blogging with students so here is some advice from educators who are experienced with using blogs in their classrooms.

Using Blogs With StudentsPhoto of the minilegends

Al Upton advice to educators new to using blogs is to start first with a class blog and move toward students posting about their own learning on their own blog when you feel comfortable.

Al’s extremely thorough Class blogs – management, moderation and protection post shares his tips and techniques for setting up a classroom blog, setting up individual student blogs, moderating student posts, moderating student comments and managing comments.

Kim Cofino says “One of my biggest stumbling blocks as I’ve switched gears froImage of Gmail Logom middle to elementary school is individual e-mail accounts for the students“. Her solution is gmail allows you to create subsidiary accounts that link to an individual account which means that one teacher can have permanent e-mail accounts for all students delivered into one teacher e-mail account.

Here are Kim Confino’s tips for setting up students as Contributors on Edublogs – the quick and easy way so that:

  • Individual student have log ins WITHOUT individual e-mail accounts
  • Individual student contributors to the blog WITHOUT their own blog
  • All posts approved by the blog administrator before posting.

Image of parent consent letterParental consent is an aspect that needs to be considered. Clay Burell uses a Parents Consent For Student Weblog Letter to inform parents of the aims of using blogs and let parents choose the level of privacy – name, image in photos and/or videos, comment moderation – for their “child.”

In World According to Matt Susan Morgan shares her conversation with Matt, one of her students, on how his classes were going, specifically regarding the use of technology. Here’s an extract from Susan’s post:

Well, I wish teachers wouldn’t assign stuff for no reason. It seems that they are just adding on technology projects on top of the other things we already do.

“He senses from some teachers that they feel they have to “do” technology, not that they want to. His biggest criticism is the way we blog. A teacher posts a question, and the student writes a nightly response to it, much like he would do in a reading log or journal. He said there’s not much follow-up to the posting, either by students or teachers.

What Matt wishes is that his teachers would consider using blogs or forums to extend his learning.

Image of RippleKonrad Glogowski’s Blog of Proximal Development shares a variety of tips for blogging with students such as Replacing Grading With Conversations, Making Assessments More Personally Relevant, How to Grow a Blog and Towards Reflective BlogTalk (Image by Teach and Learn).

Konrad wants his students:

to see their blogs and their entries as organic entities, as attempts to engage with ideas, as evidence of growth and development. It’s about maintaining conversations, not ending them by saying “Well done!” or “Good job!”

FINAL THOUGHT

What is your advice to educators starting out blogging with students? What has worked? What has caused problems? Can you recommend other posts that educators should read on this topic?

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Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

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35 Responses

  1. Kate Olson says:

    Great post, and much needed. I’m planning on doing a series on this on my blog, but actually blogging with my students takes up the time that I want to use to write about it! Some tips:

    If you want to have a classroom blog with just the teacher as the blogger and students commenting, the students do NOT need edublog/learnerblog accounts. You can set the writing settings so the students aren’t even required to type in a name or email, and then just make it YOUR requirement that they do so. Unfortunately, you can’t choose JUST a name requirement, it is attached to the email requirement.

    Again, following the same scenario as above with teacher as blogger, you can “respond” to the comments to turn it into a conversation by simply going onto your blog as a reader and submitting your comment (Gail’s edublogs manual indicates how to do this within the actual comment, as well)

    Make sure you have it set that all comments must be moderated! Very important that nothing “naughty” gets put up on your classroom blog without you knowing about it and catching it

    Don’t have the students use their real names – either assign screen names or use initials

    If you choose to have individual student blogs, these should be at learnerblogs, rather than edublogs – I have set up a fairly simple way to do this so that they are completely moderated (posts as well), you can contact me on my blog http://googtweetblog.edublogs.org if you’re interested in learning more before I get around to posting about it.

    I have many more tips, but I think I’ll actually try to do my posts on this rather than clutter up the comments here :-)

    • quiescence says:

      I seriously needed this! Thank you. I am brand-spanking new to this and I have held discussions with my students regarding implementing blogging in lieu of writing in notebooks in response to warm-up assignments. I know that blogging is a useful tool and that the use of laptops for the students is a hook for them.

      I will be checking in on your blog to see what other suggestions you have. I really am thankful that I stumbled upon this post.

      Looking forward to reading more!

      • Sue Waters says:

        Great to hear this post helped. It may be worth me doing an updated version of it. Best of luck with your blogging!

        • paige says:

          @Sue Waters,

          I would love a follow-up to this Sue, although this post is really helpful. I plan on starting my students blogging this next year and How To Grow A Blog was extremely helpful! I plan on modifying the visual a bit, but essentially using it for my opening explanation. I think I also might start “small” and experiment with one class versus jumping in with all 5.

          Thank you for the wealth of information you provide. Wow have I learned a lot!

          • Sue Waters says:

            @paige, thanks Paige and I will see what I can do with a follow up of this. I agree is time to update the info. Good idea to start small and slowly get used to it.

  2. Sue Wyatt says:

    Thanks Sue and Kate for your great tips. I have now got permission from the principal to use blogs in school; I have sent home parent letters about student blogging and upon return of those letters, some students have started sending in comments. See my blogroll on my blogging page.

    Hopefully my students will also start to write comments on other students blogs especially those set up by Kate at Global Bloggers.

  3. dbrosius says:

    I have found edublogs so user friendly for my students and my parents. I use virtual participation for my incredibly shy students or for students that just want to extend the conversation. I was very surprised how many students blogged for the sake of wanting to participate in an intelligent conversation. My students blog in by initials, seat number, and period number. Check out my blog for blogging rules- http://dbrosius.edublogs.org/welcome/
    so far it has been full proof with 180 high school students. I moderate comments, but honesty have not yet denied a post. My blog has been a huge hit at my school,with my students, my peers, my admin., and my parents. I am always on the look out for new ideas and thank edublogs for keeping it so user friendly.

  4. John Larkin says:

    Hi Sue

    A timely post indeed. I am about to get the blogs going for 2008. Last year I set up Blogger blogs on my server space for my 60 Year Nine students. The students were keeping a diary as if they were living during the 1930s and 1940s.

    It was a first for the school and I needed to keep the blogs secure. This blog post describes how I managed that.

    http://tinyurl.com/2eyovj

    I hope your readers find this useful. My next project will be a class blog for Year 8 ~ any day now.

    Cheers

    John

  5. alicemercer says:

    Can I add and “amen” to the comments about moderating? This is key for making it safe, and palatable for administrators and parents.

    Gail Desler and I recently did a intro to edublogs training in our neck of the woods (Sacramento, CA). You can find the blog here:

    http://connectingclassrooms.edublogs.org/

    with some tips, and in the right column under tutorials there is manual to get folks started in pdf form. Another resource for those who need it.

  6. Elona says:

    I’ve just started a class blog this semester for my grade 11/12 classes (http://mrshartjes1.edublogs.org/) The feedback I have been getting from my students about our classroom blog has been excellent. Students enjoy making comments on the blog and some of the parents of these 17-18 year old students enjoy reading them. These students who need extra support and are often reluctant to put pen to paper are quite willing to post comments on the blog. Their fingers just fly over the keys. It’s amazing. They also like the fact that I put some security on the blog- first names only, no search engine access and moderated comments.

    Two students have asked me not to publish a specific comment they have written and that’s not a problem. The students wanted to write the comments, but did not want them published. That’s not a problem at all.

    The students like the fact that the two classes share one blog and that they can read and comment on what their friends have written. Several parents of these 17/18 year old students have told me they like the blog as well. They follow it too.

    Although I have been blogging since August 2006, at first I was a bit nervous about having a classroom blog. I started one a year ago but didn’t get far. I guess I wasn’t ready. Teenagers can be quite creative, but with the security in place I am getting more and more comfortable. I intend on inviting my students to be guest bloggers and see how that works. I’m going to take baby steps with my blog- you know think big, start small, tread carefully. I’m learning so much from other bloggers and am grateful that they are sharing their experiences.

  7. Sue Waters says:

    Hi Kate – Thanks for adding your tips and we look forward to reading your series of posts on blogging with students when you get time to written them.

    D. Brosius – We are glad you like using Edublogs. I’ve checked out your blog which I believe you are using for your different classes. Do your students also have their own individual blogs?

    Thanks John for sharing your information on how you set up blogs for your students last year. Please let me know when you set up the blog for this year as I would love to see how the students interact and learn.

    Thanks Alice for letting me know about your latest training blog. I’ve set up a Getting Started with Edublogs page and had already added the Introduction to Edublogs manual and Getting Started With Edublogs blog so now I will add your latest blog. Thanks to both you and Gail for sharing your resources.

    I totally agree with you Elona and can relate to what you are saying. In fact I’m planning on following my posts on blogging with students with advice to start blogging first for yourself. I believe having a good understanding of what blogging is about is essential, and then getting comfortable first with a class blog is the way to go — small steps much better. I’ve fixed up the links to your class blog.

  8. lgerry says:

    Hello blog land! I am Ms. Gerry. I work with student that are on Out Of School Suspension. Most of my student are out of school for a some of 45 days. My goal is to set up a better communication with the students and their teachers and their class peers. There are some teachers that are blogging with their class at our school. I really think that is great. These student are able to go to their teachers blog site and get their assignments and they can respond to the work that is posted and publish their own work and the teacher can respond to them. I have visited one of my co-workers blog site and it has music and every thing. I am not that good with computers and the internet yet, but I am learning. I am taking a web 2.0 course on the internet. This is opening a whole new world to me. I took a beginning blogging workshop in Feb. and made a blog. I do not know even were the blog was saved too. And it has been kinda hard. It has had a lot of technical stuff. The reading has been even mind boggling. I feel like I am on a information highway and I am a little lost. My co-workers blog site was really neat, with pictures . So now I need to figure out where to go from here?

  9. jokinsey says:

    I am looking for information that I can share with K-12 teachers about using blogs in their classrooms. Can you lead me to simple yet excellent examples that I can share with them in this summer’s graduate course? It would be helpful if I could locate a few successful classroom blogs that I could use to illustrate how blogs are being used.

  10. Greg Twitt says:

    I have just found some more useful info on students and safe blogging – see the global teacher safe publishing page (http://globalteacher.org.au/safe-publishing/) and Gail Casey’s blog at http://digitalstories.globalteacher.org.au/resources-that-i-use/blogging-guidelines/.

  11. jawhite1 says:

    Hi there. This section was EXTREMELY helpful! I haven’t found the answer to one particular question though.

    Is there a way for students (with only Subscriber access) to comment on particular comments? At this time, they do not have their own blogs and are set up with just usernames.
    If this isn’t feasible, do you have any suggestions for how to get around that- other than having the student say In response to blahblah’s post…

    • Sue Waters says:

      Yes if you are using a class blog, and you are an Edublogs Supporter, go to your Plugins tab and activate your threaded comments. This means you can immediately respond back to a specific comment. That is what you are seeing when I write a comment here on The Edublogger. Regardless of whether it is the first comment or the last comment I can write a response.

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