What is meaningful?

At the start of every year, I log into a new blog website and create a classroom blog. I upload my supply list, class information, change the format and find a theme picture for the year. I write my “All About” page and then stop.

This activity has happened for the last 3 years and to this day I have not followed through with an idea for the blog and/or shared my blog with students and families. This year is going to be different! Unfortunately at this time I have too many ideas for my classroom blog. The problem I am facing is the numerous options of students blogs. I have researched some options and come up with a list of ideas.

Blog options as of 09/10/2015

  • Edublogs – I can create my own classroom blog, add students and approve all activity before posted.
  • Kidblog – I can create my student’s individual accounts and then approve all posts and activities.
  • Google Sites – Each student has an individual account, they can create a blog but I will not be able to approve blog posts or monitor activity.
  • WordPress – I can create a classroom blog and students can interact through the comments and guest post options.

Since classroom blogging is my Explore Project focus for this semester I have conducted some research and found a classroom blog that I find very inspiring. This teacher (Mrs. Yollis) created her classroom blog in 2008 and has used the same site for her following classes. The model of her classroom blog is created by the documentation of her student’s learning. The teacher and students post information (pictures, work samples, audio files, videos) to showcase learning in the classroom. These posts are commented on by fellow students in the classroom, family members, school staff and the online community. I posted a comment on the website and noticed that Mrs. Yollis does approve all her comments. Mrs. Yollis has also created a wikispace with directions, information and examples to get started blogging in your classroom.

When reading through the blog, I was surprised by the community that was showcased through the online network. I was interested in the Cluster Map that shows the visitors to the website in the past month. When reading through the posts I noticed that Mrs. Yollis has created partnerships with schools in other countries and a relationship has been formed between the classrooms. I find that to be such a valuable experience for students and much easier with the use of technology.

I am still trying to answer my million dollar question “What is meaningful?” when it comes to creating a classroom blog. I want this to be a place that my students feel safe, feel the desire to share information, connect with new people, give each other praise and most importantly see the purpose to our classroom blog. I have narrowed down my focus to literacy, but still am asking myself what that looks like. Do we write about the same book? Do we study an author and then compare and contrast the books? Do we blog with partners, groups, individually? There are many more questions and I keep reminding myself that the days are going by very quickly and I need to start this journey in the next couple weeks.

What are your experiences with blogs? Have you had success with one website over another? What recommendations do you have when thinking about student blogging?

I leave you with an image that reminds me of the importance of blogging and keeps this topic in the front of my mind.

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “What is meaningful?

  1. Cara, I can definitely relate to becoming overwhelmed by all the different options of starting a new project in a classroom. It’s great though that you recognize the importance of it needing to be meaningful and purposeful for the students instead of just starting something for the sake of it!
    I really like the idea you talk about of documenting the students’ work. That could be used in a multiple of ways! It sounds similar to a portfolio. The kids can even use it to lead a student-led parent conference at the end of the year!
    Have you thought of involving your students in the discussion of what they may like to do or see on the blog? Maybe you could share some that you’ve found with your class and lead a discussion of what they may be interested in doing. If the students feel some ownership in the process, it may help build more excitement and interest among your families as well.
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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  2. Blogs evolve over time. It’s good to have a focus, but even then you may find that the focus will shift. Part of this will be because you are new to doing it and need to find your niche and where you are comfortable. However, blogs always shift as you grow and develop.

    To help make it meaningful, I suggest working to develop an audience for your students beyond the class. I also suggest teaching them how to blog and that the ways we blog (the hows and the whys) are different from other forms of communication used in schools.

    Don’t try to mimic school-based writing with the blog. They will make it less meaningful as it detracts from the larger purpose. For example, don’t ask students to read something and answer questions on the blog as that’s generally not a reason why we use blogs.

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  3. There are so many different options out there when it comes to technology. I really like the idea of a blog for your class. I have never done one, so I am not able to give you any advice there. I do like the idea of approving comments though. This will help if someone writes something they are not supposed to be writing about, or if they are not saying nice things to each other. If you approve comments, you will be able to monitor it much better.

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