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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Editor's note: See the full archive of the five-week boot camp.

Welcome to our fifth and final week of New Teacher Boot Camp! Today we're going to be exploring blogging. Not only for students, but for educators as well.

What is a Blog?

A blog (a blend of the term "web log") is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are maintained by an individual, in our case a teacher or student, who writes a post, or regular entry, sharing a commentary, description of an event, or other audio-visual material such as a video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments on the blog and it is this interactivity that frequently distinguishes them from other static websites. Blog sites can combine text, images, and links to other blogs. They can also provide web pages and media related to the topic being shared. There are many blogging platforms such as Wordpress, Blogger and Edublogs to name a few, that are amazing for teachers to use professionally and with students.

My blog at TeachingWithSoul.com

Introducing Greta Sandler

Greta is an ESL teacher in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Join me in reading her approach to using blogging in the classroom. Here is a short interview I did with her about her approach to using blogs in the classroom with students.

Writing for an Audience: Blog Examples

Blogging is a wonderful way to motivate our students to write. Students can share their stories, thoughts and reflections on their blogs. Writing for a real and global audience makes blogging an engaging and meaningful experience. Blogging has made a difference for my students. Their writing and reading skills have improved significantly. Additionally, blogging has also inspired them to learn and explore about other web tools and technology. Thanks to blogging, many of my students have been able to find their voices and gain self-confidence.

Below is an example of a student who wrote this adventure story, drew the image map and figured out how to embed it herself. You can read the whole story here.

Student Story Blog

Next we have a an example of a student sharing his thoughts on blogging.

Student Sharing His Thoughts

Expanding Our Classroom Walls

Blogging is also a fantastic way to bring parents and our entire school community into our classrooms. Students can blog about special events and share important news. Kids can even add videos and publish their own work.

Next is a post by a student who wrote about a Skype call experience.

Reflection on Skype

Below is an inspiring comment left by a parent sharing her thoughts about our blog.

Parent Comment

Bringing the World in

Commenting and reading other blogs will empower our students to build meaningful connections with people from all over the world. These connections will help them develop better critical thinking skills, as well as raise their global awareness. Students can take part in blogging challenges and global projects. Moreover, kids can collaborate with other classrooms through their blogs. Getting comments is important, but it's also beneficial to get our students to read other blogs and comment on them too.

Comments4kids is an excellent resource to find other student blogs and get more comments on your students' work.

Below is our blogging buddies map. It has been an incredible opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures. We marked every place we got comments from.

Blogging Buddies Map

Useful Links and Resources

Assignment 1: Create your own blog

  1. Be sure to explore the blogging platforms available such as Wordpress, Blogger and Edublogs, and resource links before you set up your blog
  2. Set up a personal blogging account. Follow all the account set-up steps.
  3. Explore your blog platform that you've chosen to see how it works.
  4. Choose a topic that you'd like to write about. (Maybe it's a reflection on our Boot Camp!)
  5. Write your first blog post! It doesn't have to be long...even a few sentences is fine.
  6. Save it and, if you are comfortable with this, post a link to it on Twitter!
  7. Use the hashtag #ntbootcamp when you post to Twitter so that others can see it and visit your blog to comment!
  8. Begin to reflect on how you will use blogging yourself, and with your students.

Assignment 2: Post your blog to the wiki

Now that you've created your own blog account, time to post a sample of it to the wiki. Follow these instructions:

  1. Go to your blog account that you created
  2. Once you've created your blog post capture a pic of it with a tool like Jing.
  3. Go to your page on the wiki
  4. Click "edit page"
  5. Click on file in the tool bar on your page
  6. Images and Files window will launch
  7. Click "upload file"
  8. Pick where you have your pic stored on your laptop
  9. Click "upload file"
  10. Click on it to embed the pic on your wiki page.
  11. Click Save again and a photo of your blog should now appear on your page!

Thanks so much to Greta for the great idea of how a new teacher could begin to explore using blogs in the classroom!

About Greta Sandler

Greta Sandler is an ESL teacher. She teaches fifth grade at a K-12 school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is passionate about teaching and technology. She loves to create meaningful learning opportunities for her students by combining her two passions. She is the co-creator of Blog4Edu and she is also part of the #elemchat team. You can check out her blog About a Teacher and you can also find her on Twitter (@gret.)

Comments (17)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lisa Dabbs's picture
Lisa Dabbs
Educational Consultant. Author. Speaker. Blogger.

Thanks to Stuart for his thoughtful post on what the Boot Camp meant to him. I so appreciate it, as it was our first, but not our last time offering PD to new teachers here at Edutopia. Here is the link to Stuart's NT Bootcamp Blog Post http://t.co/pdK04lU #ntchat
Cheers to you Stuart!

TMCSMATH's picture
Teacher of MS Math, Algebra, 6th Gr SS, MathCounts & Basketball coach...NC

Thank you so much for offering this bootcamp! I am not a new teacher, but with all the new technology available now, I feel like one. I can't wait to get my students involved with all I have learned this summer. We started school last week and my 6th graders have already created word clouds to describe themselves! (I confess we used Tagxedo instead of Wordle because of the ease of saving...I never even would have know about either of these programs without your summer PD!)

I will be checking back to see what other great things you are offering for teachers!

The link to my portfolio page... http://edutopia-ntbootcamp.wikispaces.com/portfolio+for+tmcsmath

Thanks again!

Lydia Schultz's picture
Lydia Schultz
Teacher Librarian

While I haven't been officially participating in Boot Camp, I have been following the activities. (I have done some of this work under other programs.) But this year I want to venture into blogging with my 5th grade LA class, and am looking for other similarly aged groups. I want my students both to comment on and to read other student writing, and would welcome the opportunity to have other students comment on their work.

So, is anybody out there willing to collaborate this year? I work at a small Jewish Day School in Minnesota, and would welcome the chance to have my students be and receive a "real" audience.

Stacey Komsa's picture
Stacey Komsa
6th grade English/Language Arts Teacher from Chestertown, MD

I have just found this blog through a link in my grad school class. I also have unofficially participated in the Boot Camp. I would really like to make a blog for my class this year. I have to make sure it is okay with my principal, but I would love to collaborate this year a bit if he gives me a go-ahead. I work in Chestertown, MD, at a middle school, teaching 6th grade English. It is a rural area close to many great things like Washington, DC, the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore, MD, and even Philadelphia, PA. I think this would be a great way to make it really life oriented and engaging for them!

My email is skomsa@kent.k12.md.us

Paul Solarz's picture

Lisa - I very rarely take time to write comments on websites, but I want you to know that your boot camp articles have been the single best resource I have used this summer in my quest to become a 21st Century Educator! Your yellow text boxes with instructions have been my favorite aspect of each article since it gave me a task to do and I could see my research efforts rewarded with an actual product. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I know the summer is ending, but I hope that you will continue this format throughout the school year. I know I will be anxiously awaiting each installment!!! :)

aschordine's picture
pre-service elementary teacher

My personal journey as an educator blog is up! Here is the link to my blog: http://www.withwingstoflyedu.blogspot.com and here is my NT Boot Camp portfolio: http://edutopia-ntbootcamp.wikispaces.com/Alicia+Schordine

I am looking forward to tonight's webinar, but want to express my sincere thanks to Lisa and the rest of the amazing educators who took time out of their summer to help us new teachers along! You are all phenomenal and I learned so much from each of you and am so honored to be a member of this vibrant community!

Margaret Kolbas's picture
Margaret Kolbas
Fourth grade teacher from North Georgia

This is my first time on this website and your post was very insightful. I'm ashamed to say that I set up a blog last year but I never used it. I am excited about the many ways that students used the blogs and can see how this would be a great motivating tool for increase learning. I will definitely set up a blog and possible partner with another school in my district so we can get the kids blogging. Thank-you so much for sharing and showing us how to use blogs.

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