Update – I wrote a new post about the process for setting up student blogs on 15th January 2012. Click here to find it.
Last term, I set up blogs for two of my Grade Two students. This week, I have been busy working with three more students setting up their individual blogs.
These are the links to my students’ blogs
Lately, a number of people have asked me how I go about setting up blogs for students so I thought I would share my experience.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I like to follow these steps when blogging with my students.
Early in the year we did a lot of work on learning commenting skills. Click here to read more about that.
Halfway through the year I announced to the class that I would be looking for students to earn their own blog.The idea of earning a blog is one of the many blogging tips I got from Linda Yollis.
To earn a blog the students had to…
- Write quality comments on our class blog on a regular basis.
- Be committed to replying to comments on our class blog (I believe that it is good blogging etiquette for all bloggers to reply to their readers’ comments).
- Show an interest in others’ blogs (eg. leave some comments on our blogging buddies’ blogs).
- Demonstrate a knowledge of cyber safety when writing blog comments and using the internet.
- Show a general enthusiasm for learning about blogging.
- Demonstrate some support from their family.
Why don’t all students have blogs?
Blogging is a big responsibility for seven and eight year old students (or individuals of any age for that matter!). The students need to be ready and committed. The support of parents is also essential. I have seen far too many blogs that have been set up enthusiastically but not maintained regularly or simply abandoned after a very short time. While my students are not locked in to blogging forever if they find it is not for them, I want them to be committed to giving it a good shot. I also need to be able to assist and monitor all of my student bloggers. I know I could not do this effectively if all of my students had blogs!
How I set up the blogs
To set up the student blogs, in the dashboard of my class blog I went to Users and then Blog and User Creator. In the set up process I added myself as an administrator which is crucial because I need to be able to access the dashboard of my students’ blogs in case any editing is ever needed.
The students have their own usernames and passwords for their blogs.
The process I followed
1. I asked the students who I thought had earnt their blog if they would like a blog (probably a silly question, it was a definite YES from all of them).
2. I sent a detailed email to the students’ parents explaining how the blog will work, what the students will be responsible for and how I will support their child. I asked them to reply via email so I had their permission in writing. All of my parents were extremely supportive.
3. Once permission was obtained, I set up a school email address for each student and set up their blog.
4. I sat down with the students and discussed their ideas for their blog. We talked about what they think they will post about and how often they will post. I advised them to avoid the temptation to post daily and suggested one quality weekly post would be a good initial goal. We also revised cyber safety tips and discussed what is and is not appropriate to post online (I found with my first two student bloggers there have been a number of authentic opportunities to discuss cyber safety issues as they have gone through the blogging process).
5. The students stayed in one lunch time to get started on their blogs. I started off showing them things like how to change their password, how to change their theme, how to rename their blog, how to use basic widgets, how to add links, how to write a post, how to write a page and how to add hyperlinks in posts/pages.
6. I typed up a document with all the information the students needed to keep at home. This included their email address, blog address, usernames and passwords as well as the links to other blogs, the Edublogs support site and my email address (in case they get stuck at home).
7. The students who started blogging last term have already been great mentors to the students who are just starting with their blogs. Peer to peer tutoring has so many benefits!
8. After the initial set up session, the students just tend to ask me questions as they arise and I subscribe via email to their posts and comments to keep track of what they’re up to.
Blogging has an incredible number of benefits for students and, if they are ready and willing, having their own blog is a great privilege and learning opportunity. I won’t deny that it is a fair bit of work for you as a teacher but like all things in life and in teaching, the more you put in, the more you get out!