Monthly Archives: January 2014

Providing Scaffolding for Students When Blogging

When deciding to blog with your students, it’s important to determine the purpose of your blog and what blogging activities you would like your students involved in. Educators may use blogging for the following purposes:

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I like to provide my students with a variety of blogging activities. We use our blog site as a group blogging site where we provide literature responses to novels we are reading, explain concepts mastered in class (mirror blog) and provide our opinions on current events/thoughts. We also will post some of our written work with poetry and add an audio component to our writing. I like providing a variety of activities so students are kept interested in blogging. If you need some ideas for blogging with your students, check out the website Write About (Write About, 2015).

Throughout the blogging process, students are supported through modeling on how to write a good blog post and how to respond with an appropriate comment. To assist students with commenting, they are provided with 3 different ways to respond:

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At the moment, I am learning side by side with my students about good teaching practices that will assist with blogging activities. With the help of my students, I plan to develop additional resources that will support students with blogging and provide good modeling/scaffolding of expected outcomes.


References:

Halsey, S. (2007). Embracing emergent technologies and envisioning new ways of using them for literacy learning in the primary classroom. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6(2), 99-107.

Write About (2015). Ideas. Retrieved from http://www.writeabout.com/ideas/

Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661.

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How to Select a Blogging Platform

There are many blogging platforms on the web available for student and/or teacher use. How do educators select a platform for student use? The first thing that must be considered is security of student data and information. Student’s identity and personal information must always be protected from online predators, creditors and anyone else who wish to misuse this information. Ensure that you fully understand the platforms functionality – whether it be public, semi-private or private, and how information is being stored/used by the platform developers. This can be a daunting task, so I suggest consulting your school board to see if they already have a list of approved/unapproved blogging platforms. With the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), they have provided educators and the general public with Web 2.0 guidelines. The guidelines explain how they determine the approval of Web 2.0 tools while considering the ethical and legal implications of using the tool. To see a list of the CBE’s criteria and tools, go to this link: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/learninginnovation/digitalsafety-web2guidelines.asp

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Retrieved from Kidblog.org

The next criteria is determining your student’s skill level. Certain blogging sites are easier to set-up and use than others. From personal experience, I recommend Kidblog for elementary students as it takes about 10 minutes for a teacher to set up their classroom accounts and students have opportunities to personalize their page, in addition to being able to communicate their ideas with media (photographs, audio, links). This site is also on the approved CBE Web 2.0 guidelines which gives me more confidence in using this platform. I recently conducted a survey on blogging use with students and Kidblog was very popular among elementary teachers to date. I will include a poll on this site to see which blog site you prefer for elementary students.

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Retrieved from Blogger.com

For older students, they have more experience with typing and using Internet websites, so they would work best with a blogging site that allows for more personalization. My recommendation for secondary students would be WordPress or Blogger.

Retrieved from wordpress.com

Retrieved from wordpress.com

These sites are more complex and have many more options for student personalization. They may require a lot of support when first used, but the end result is worth it! I actually use WordPress as my professional blog site and enjoy using this platform. Having experience writing my own blogs on this site has given me a better understanding of this platform and of how to blog, which I could also share with my students.

For more details on blogging platforms, read these tips from Dr. Fryer: https://medium.com/@wfryer/tips-for-choosing-a-classroom-blog-f83a441f621

Once you’ve selected your blogging platform, take some time to become familiar with its format and styling. Don’t be afraid to consult other teachers who are blogging or use Twitter to find teachers who blog. This is where I have made many professional connections.

Happy Blogging!


References:

Fryer, W. (2015, August 9). Tips for choosing a classroom blog. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@wfryer/tips-for-choosing-a-classroom-blog-f83a441f621

Blogging Expectations With Elementary Students

Before beginning our grade 3 blogging project each year, we go through a list of blogging expectations with our students. With any online tool, it is important to discuss guidelines with students so they may participate in a safe, secure and caring online environment. Whether students are in elementary school or secondary school, they should understand appropriate netiquette that is involved with this form of digital communication. The guidelines I set with my students have been inspired from samples seen online and from a reading on digital citizenship norms created by Ribble, Bailey, & Ross (2004). They wrote an article discussing the notion of Digital Citizenship and how to address appropriate technology behavior. They go through nine different norms that need to be addressed when working with Web 2.0 tools. If you are not familiar with these norms, I encourage you to read through their article as they are applicable to all online users.

I have included our blogging expectations as an example of how you could set guidelines with your students or children who wish to blog privately or publicly. Our students are blogging privately, meaning that only their classmates, teacher and parents can view their posts.This is why we allow a little more freedom in our blogging environment as their identify and personal information is better protected. As this is my second year blogging with students, I feel more comfortable working in a private blogging site than opening it to the public. As I get more comfortable with blogging, I will consider opening it up to the public based on administrator input and comfort level.

Image* In the blogging website section, I have removed the rest of the hyperlink for privacy reasons, but students have the direct link to click on to access their classroom account

If you are blogging publicly, you may want to consider adding different expectations as their posts can be viewed by anyone and will have less privacy restrictions on names and images. The age of your students will also determine whether you want to review posts or comments before they are published for the class. I find that with first time bloggers, students need a guidance in how to write appropriate responses to their peers.

Reference:

Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ695788.pdf