Friday, 22 March 2013

March 22, 2013 - Getting Blogged Down Can Be Fun

Hello Everyone,

Recently I have been asked for past copies of my Tech Tidbits and so I thought I would share the location of my Tech Tidbits Blog for teachers to use as a tool to refresh their memories or as a ‘jumping off point’ when looking for some new tech inspiration. has all of my past posts, links to websites, and has a search feature which allows you to click on ‘labels’ or enter key words which will take you to the post about that particular topic.  Additionally, I thought some teachers may be interested in starting their own blog, or one for their classroom, so this has become our tech tidbits for this week…Blogging.

So, just what is a Blog?

Originally taken as a mash-up of the words ‘web log’, a blog is a website usually arranged in chronological order from most recent post or entry, where individuals record information on a regular basis.  They can be on any topic - football, fashion, gaming, food, global issues, etc. and the general public can view the blog and comment on the posts being displayed.  Many teachers have begun blogging as a class group activity to provide a historical record of the year’s events or to keep parents and others apprised of the classes’ accomplishments and events.   

Why blog with students?

Blogging for students provides an authentic audience and purpose for their writing and learning.  Often students feel that the work they are completing is simply for the teacher to mark and has no material importance in the context of day-to-day life.  Blogging however, offers students a ‘real’ audience to write for and when they begin to receive comments from their peers and others they feel a responsibility to maintain this calibre of writing and connection.  Teaching students about digital citizenship is another benefit.  Students learn how to appropriately comment on others’ postings and they begin to understand the global reach that their online presence has.  The student’s writing process is improved and frequently the students who are afraid to share their thoughts and ideas aloud in class are able to find their voice from the security of their keyboards.  Finally, blogging is fun! As the blog grows and more and more people are reading their posts and commenting on the articles, students begin to see how connected they are to the world around them and what an impact their lives can have on others.

So how do I get started?

There are many free blogging websites available including Edublogs, Kidblog and Blogger (our very own UGCloud has a Blogger link under ‘More’ on the UGCloud Home page).  Creating an account and setting up the account is very user friendly and quick to complete.  Initially, depending on the grade and level of the students, I would begin with a blog where the whole class contributes and the teacher is able to edit posts.  Instructors can begin by viewing videos about blogging (such as this one from BrainPop), discuss the blog with the class and begin by modelling proper post writing, commenting and even develop success criteria for writing.  Having students comment on teacher created posts offers them the opportunity to begin their blogging experience in a safe and limited manner.  Appointing pairs or groups of students to write posts about class events or assignments provides an opportunity to grow into authors themselves. Finally, as they begin to show their ability and interest students could graduate to writing their own personal blogs, imbedding videos and images of student work.  Invite parents to view and comment on the posts and watch the kids begin to glow with pride.

Where can this take us?

No one knew that when Neil Pasricha began the blog ‘1000 Awesome Things’, that it would lead to an award winning website, 6 books, a TED Talk, virtual app, an Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Award and potential movie deal.  He was just trying to continually find the more positive things in life.  Countless other blogs have grown into books and created writers out of students who thought they weren’t capable.  Who knows if your blog or that of your students may become something so much more than you had ever thought possible.

Happy Blogging,


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