Thursday, October 23, 2008

So, how is the student blogging thing going?...

Today I was asked this by a fellow teacher and my quick response was “OK. Up and down. Good start I think…”

So how is it going? Well as my students learn so do I.

Here are a few thoughts of what is working for me now and perhaps for the future. Some of this is obvious but perhaps some is not.

Post to a blog and then have students comment to the post. This self-organizes the blog and I think keeps it less cluttered. Also allows for students to compare comments when they are placed below each other and is a separate list from all the posts.

With 9th graders, keep comment moderation ALWAYS on except when using library time to blog . This cuts down on the inappropriate comments and language creeping in at all times. However, having comment moderation off during blogging time allows students the opportunity to “see” their post for immediate reinforcement. When done, review all posts, delete the inappropriate posts and then turn comment moderation back on.

With upper level students, assigning a prompt with a writing structure (ex 11 sentence paragraph) generates a higher quality / more thoughtful response. I’l be using the 11 sentence paragraph with the 9th graders soon but it will probably require two sessions for each blog assignment, one for the writing and one for the blog (write-rewrite).

I believe that beginning 9th grade bloggers should be encouraged to post thoughts or comments without being constrained by punctuation, spelling, grammar etc. However, I also recognize the power of blogging as a literacy tool and will be focusing on student created literate blog posts / comments as we move through this year. A blogging rubric will be implemented with the 9th graders soon.

Blogger requires a google account such as gmail and doesn’t recognize our or email accounts. With 9th graders this is a problem (ie hard to remember more than one email user account /password) so commenting anonymously but signing it with first name and initial is a good work-around.

Cutting and pasting from word to blogger often creates html errors. However, cutting and pasting to gmail and then re-cutting and pasting to blogger appears to take care of formatting errors etc.

Follow up with your comment(s) to their comments and then follow up in class so the blog becomes a tie-in to other classroom activities. This creates a “flow” and allows the blog to be more than an activity used from time to time.

Cultivate other readers and (hopefully) posters. Having a wider audience than classmates reinforces the idea that their world view should be larger than C-town.

So, how is it going?

OK, I guess. Still learning. Doug


Jeff Lewis said...


I am amazed at all the great work you are doing at the high school. Your students are very lucky. I am using Blogger with my fourth graders and am loving it. A note: I set my students up with gmail accounts to give them Blogger accounts. And what I like is that they can just put in their username with out the part. This makes it so much simpler for my students. I set it up so they their user name is --firstname&room24--, like "joseroom24". That's all they type. Then all they have to remember is our common password, which is another challenge. This is an alternative to anonymous commenting, which gives my fourth graders less feeling of ownership/excitement that what they are writing is going "out there" (wherever that is).

Thanks Doug.

doug.abshire said...

Hey Jeff, good idea. Thanks for the kind words, Doug