Sunday, November 26, 2006

K12 Blogging: You can do it!

K12 Blogging: You can do it!

Teachers are starting to ask me more and more about blogging. Some common questions are: What is a blog? How do I start a blog? What can I do with a blog? Will it help with course objectives? How much time will it take? How will my students access my blog? etc…

Well, a variety of individuals have blogged about educational blogging, so there is a wealth of information online about setting up and using educational blogs in the K12 classroom. However, I will do what I can to address a couple of the aforementioned questions.

What is a blog?
A blog is a weblog. The words web and log have been combined to create the word “blog”. If you still don’t understand the term blog you can do a search via Google or you can watch a short movie by Will Richardson click here.

How to set up an educational blog!

First, talk with your administrator and IT personnel and ask for recommendations of where they would like you to blog. If they don’t have a recommendation, tell them where you would like to set up your blog, and make sure that your IT department isn’t blocking that site or that sites email.

You have various options or blog providers available for educational purposes. I recommend the following blog providers, edublogs, gaggleblogs, blogger, and blogmeister. Each one of the blog providers has positive and negative attributes. Nothing is ever perfect, except my wife. There are some other blog providers, but for our purposes these will suffice.

Personally, I use edublogs and blogger. I have edublogs set up for my classes and I use blogger to reach the rest of the world. Note, before you set up your blog, make sure that the settings or options are set to moderate the comments. This will help you regulate what is being said by your students and could save you some trouble in the long run. Also, if you don’t have an Internet acceptable policy in place you should create one. You may even want to create a blogging contract for all of your students. There is a step-by-step word document provided at abpc for setting up an edublogs blog.

If you decide to use blogger you should go in and remove the blogger header at the top of the page to prevent students from randomly jumping to the next blog. I did this with my blog because I didn’t want any of my guest to think that I was associated scanty blogs by accident. The next blog could be trouble! Edublogs and blogmeister do not utilize this function.

Additionaly, you do not have to go in and do html edits on the template if you are using edublogs. You do have to make template modifications with blogger and I am not sure about blogmeister because I haven’t used it. Maybe, I will set up a blog there in the future. David Warlick is responsible for blogmeister so I am realitively certain that it is a very functional blog.

What can you do with a blog?

According to Quentin D’Souza and myself, teachers can…

use blogs for real-world writing experiences
pull class blogs together into one area for easy tracking
prolong discussions outside the classroom or for q and a with guest speakers.
quickly give feedback to students, and students to each other (no stacks of papers)
track student writing development Blogging with Students
students using peer networks to develop their own knowledge
update new information such as homework and assignments
help and give feedback on grammar and punctuation
discuss how technology is being used in class and for what purposes
share work and projects with parents and the world via the Internet
generate and share curriculum with others
share general information with students, parents, and others
encouraging students to help each other with their writing
use it for literature circle types of activities
get responses on a question without getting the same answer twenty times

Quentin D’Souza provided the majority of the aforementioned ideas. He has a very informative pdf. file entitled Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators. It is well worth the read!If you missed it earlier, Will Richardson’s video on blogging is very informative click here. In the words of Porky the Pig, Tha, Tha, Tha, That’s all folks!

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