It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the idea of blogging, especially if you are unclear about the purpose of the blog. Is the blog for you or for students and parents? Will it be written as a medium for reflection, a newsletter, or a source of advice for other educators?
This post highlights the most prevalent types of education blogs and includes links to blogs that exemplify each of the types.
A Blog is Not Just a Blog
A single classroom blog may exist for many reasons. It might be for…
- personal reflection on teaching and learning
- communication between you, parents, students, and the world
- exhibition of student work
- recommendation of resources to other teachers
Student blogs also vary. You may encourage or require student blogs for…
- ongoing reflection on lessons, work, or projects
- portfolios of work for parents, friends, and the world
- students’ exploration of interests or passions
When you clarity the purpose behind your blog, you begin thinking differently about your practice. You mentally note classroom events for future reflection. You make schedules for student blog posts. You discover ways in which your students’ blogs will demonstrate knowledge of curricular objectives. You notice other bloggers, relate to the struggles of others, and no longer feel alone in your classroom.
Below are some examples of blogs that illustrate clear purposes.
Teachers’ Personal Reflections on Teaching and Learning
Google “the resume is dead”. Note how many books and posts discuss the importance of a strong online presence as the medium through which you communicate your philosophy and describe your professional practice.
In My Island View, Tom Whitby is currently writing a series about his strong belief that Twitter should be used by educators to develop Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). In Wright’s Room, Shelley Wright reflects on student engagement, flipped classrooms, and her year as a consultant. A new blogger, Kristina Buenafe, writes about career decisions about whether to pursue NBPTS certification or an administrative certificate. If you’re looking for a good laugh, check out Jessica Lahey’s Coming of Age in the Middle. Her casual voice is refreshing and her comments make for good faculty room discussion. Chris Kennedy, a superintendent, writes a blog to improve transparency, reflect on leadership, and solicit opinions that push his thinking.
If any of the aforementioned bloggers applied to work at your school, you would know the individual’s beliefs and practices far better than you would know those who submit only paper resumes. You can easily ascertain the bloggers’ passions for learning and professional growth. Also notice how bloggers develop a Personal Learning Network with fellow bloggers and Tweeps – they exemplify lifelong learners. Consider setting up a blog for reflection.
Communication Between You, Parents, and the World
How many times per year do you get from emails that sound something like this…
I know you sent an email last week about the field trip, but I can’t find it. Can your remind me…?
So you rewrite the expectations or search for the old newsletter. How much easier would it be to have all communications logged in one place and have each message automatically delivered to parents’ email inboxes? You don’t even need to copy/paste or attach a file before sending.
If you set up a class blog for communication, you have all your information in one place. Even better, you have a format for parents and students to comment, post questions, and answer one another.
Classroom blogs create a sense of community. Two of the best-known classroom community blogs that consistently show up in the Edublog awards are 4KM and 4KJ and Mrs. Yollis’s Classroom Blog. Not only do these blogs demonstrate a community of parents and students, the teachers have grown an international community. Children from the classes of Mrs. Morris and Miss Jordan from Victoria Australia regularly interact with students in Mrs. Yollis’s class in California. Learning and Sharing with Ms. Lirenman documents participation in the Flat Classroom Global Project. If you want to create a stronger community, consider using blogs as a way for you, parents, teachers, students, and other classrooms to interact.
Exhibition of Students Work
A Room With A View: Class 2! is an example of student work displayed for a wider audience. You can watch students sing, make Christmas chains, play with alliteration, and more. Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog features 3D projects, bulletin board designs, and artefacts of electronic conversations on iPads. Mr. Salich encourages individual students to write about their classroom activities as well as their personal interests. You can tell that these third graders take their blog posts very seriously.
Recommendations for Teaching Professionals
This category of blogs can be divided into hundreds of subcategories. Some write for particular subject areas like history or math. Others comprise book reviews or recommend tech resources. Tech resource blogs can be further sorted into curriculum materials, free online resources, iPad apps, and worldwide classroom connections. Expat Educator is written for upper elementary school generalists worldwide who juggle multiple subjects and new technologies.
Other teachers blog to inspire. Shelley S. Terrell has a 30 Goals Challenge as a part of Teacher Reboot Camp. Angela Maiers writes about character and attitudes of effective schools. Vicky Davis writes posts that remind us that our work is a noble calling.
If you’re looking for specific lesson ideas, a whole host of teachers both share ideas and promote materials for sale. Many materials are given away for free. Others are sold for a few dollars on Teachers Pay Teachers. The ideas they share are super-practical. Materials can be downloaded and used immediately, Some personal favorites are the Math Journal and art ideas from Runde’s Room, Science lessons from Teaching in Room 6, and Reader’s Notebooks from The Panicked Teacher.
Perhaps you have subject-matter expertise, a gift for motivating others, or a creative flair. You can set up a blog to share your ideas with the world.
As students get older and become more proficient writers, they can “own” their own blogs and use them for continuous reflection. Felicia Young recently wrote an Edudemic article on how blogs can be used for reflection on math concepts. Hannah B. blogs about her grad school experience, especially her growing knowledge of speech pathology. Consider swapping paper journals for online journals in the form of blogs.
There are many ways to showcase student work. By giving students a blog, you give them a virtual place to display projects. Parents who frequently travel appreciate the ability to see their child’s work no matter where they are in the world.
Student Exploration of Interests or Passion
Martha from the UK is likely the most famous young blogger. Martha began writing about her school lunches. She took pictures of her school lunch and created her own ratings system (including numbers of hairs!). Martha solicited pictures of lunches worldwide, began her own charity to feed children living in poverty, and worked with her father to write a book.
Ryan’s Blog is a great mentor blog for students. He writes about both sports and technology. Ryan sets an example of how young writers can present an honest voice while remaining cyber-safe. Jacob’s blog is another great example. Students might explore way in which Jacob’s writing has progressed since his blog began in 2010.
Some of the best personal blog advice for children (and adults!) is written by eleven-year-old Jake.
In the end, your blog may serve multiple purposes. For example, you can require that student blogs include certain portfolio elements, but also give students freedom to write about personal passions. Your classroom blog might both feature student work and serve as a newsletter for communication with parents.
Why do you blog?
Janet Abercrombie is the author of Expat Educator and regularly writes practical tips for improving teaching and learning. Her top tech posts have been about ePortfolios, classroom management of 1:1 environments, and student news videos. Janet works full time as Head of Junior School in a school outside of Melbourne. She consults with educational leaders who are looking to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment.