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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

Andrea's picture

Lisa, thank you for your informative "how to" use blogs boot camp. I was not very familiar with blogging before reading this article. You made it clear the tremendous impact blogging can have on students' education when used creatively. I also liked how you pointed out that it can be a great tool to involve families. I have been trying to get families more involved and am excited to try blogging in the classroom to improve student learning and get families more involved.

Jim Kilmartin's picture
Jim Kilmartin
Studying for my Masters in Education at Lesley University

I've loved every class of this New Teacher Boot Camp. I never thought of myself as a blogger, but WordPress made it very easy to do. I will definitely introduce it to my classroom in the future!

Denay's picture
Denay
2nd grade teacher from Atlanta, GA

I am a new teacher and love the idea of blogging in the classroom. All of the ideas for student's use of blogs are really inspiring. I really love the blogging buddies map...what an amazing tool!

Vanessa's picture

I love the emphasis that was placed on connecting with parents and the school community. Our 5th grade works a lot with "Zines", and I think blogging would be a wonderful way to publish our "Zines" that feature school and community events. I'm wondering what type of blog account is the safest and most useful for our upper intermediate age group?

Ann Campbell's picture
Ann Campbell
Looking for a position teaching business or middle school math

I don't know how to use jing, so I put a link to my blog on my wiki. Hope this works.

Elizabeth Skelton's picture
Elizabeth Skelton
ELA coordinator and teacher at Bavarian International School, Munich

I'm having trouble with the wiki. The 'edit' button is not appearing on my page, so I can't upload my blog. Help! Thanks!

Valerie's picture

Thank you for this article about blogging. I am a fairly new teacher and can be intimidated by technology. But your article has so many great ideas and you have made it really easy to understand how to set one up that even I feel like I can do it. I love the idea about bringing parents into the classroom and I am looking forward to hopefully enticing some of my reluctant writers with this fun approach.

Kathy Walker's picture
Kathy Walker
middle school writing, history & math teacher from Philadelphia

I loved these 2 tools! I can use the Wetoku in all of my classes, and am very excited about its applications. I have been wanting to try blogs with my students for awhiloe, but wasn't quite sure how to get started. Your tutorial made it so easy, now I am ready to try it in my classes this Fall. Thanks Lisa, for sharing all of these super cool tools and making it incredibly easy to figure them out! I csan't wait to start using many of them in my own classroom in a few weeks!

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