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A Beginner's Guide to Student Blogging

Pernille Ripp

A Beginners Guide to Student BloggingStudent blogging is quickly becoming a well-respected branch of writing as more and more educators embrace it and integrate into their curriculum. When I started blogging with my students in 2010, I had no idea what I was doing, which I think may have been a great approach for me. After all, most of us would prefer just try something rather than read pages and pages of how-to before we do it. Or at least this somewhat impulsive teacher would.

However, there is a system to get student blogging off to a good start. I present to you the beginners guide to student blogging, or what I do in my classroom every year.

1. Figure Out Your 'Why?'

In order to get others excited about blogging, you have to know why they are doing it. Blogging should never just be a way to showcase typed up work, that misses the point of it. So reflect on the why before you decide on the how.

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2. Pick Your Platform

I use Kidblog and have loved it every since I started. While some feel this is geared more toward elementary students with their recent changes, I disagree. However, Edublogs is another popular student blogging platform that also comes highly recommended.

3. Get Your Permissions

Check with your principal, your tech coordinator, and finally get parent permission. You have to explain what you are doing and be transparent throughout to receive ultimate support for this endeavor. Often there are concerns regarding student online safety and so it is much easier to be proactive and seek out these conversations rather than scramble for permission afterwards.

4. Blogging Versus Writing

While some students will have an idea of what a blog is, many won’t. Therefore, it s important that you start out distinguishing between blogging and writing. This will lead to heightened awareness of what is appropriate for a blog post and what isn’t and will also lead to the next step.

5. Discuss Safety

Before you even have them log into their blog accounts you have to discuss safety. I use the analogy of “Why the Internet is Like the Mall” to get students to really think about their online behavior and what they post. I also have special permission slips that students have to read and sign to be a part of this. Online safety is a year-round discussion so don’t forget to bring it up again and again.

6 Do a Paper Blog

A paper blog is a great way to introduce blogging and how to add their own personality is an idea I got from Karen McMillan. It helps build excitement and also teaches students how to comment.

7. Discuss Commenting

In order for blogging to be effective, students need to know how to comment well. So we discuss how to create a dialogue in comments, how to thank people, and also how to give constructive feedback. We set up parameters for our posts and our comments in order to uphold a high standard of writing.

8. Start small

When students are finally ready to blog, have them introduce themselves. That way as you start to reach out to others, because ultimately blogging is about connections, students can showcase themselves and thus spark a conversation.

9. Connect With Others

Use quadblogging to get you connected or simply reach out to one or two other classes preferably far away from you to establish a blogging relationship. This is where the kids get excited because they get to establish a connection with other kids in faraway places and maintain that relationship throughout the year.

10 Make It Their Own

I ask students for ideas of what to blog about, I give them free artistic reigns over their posts and I give them time to explore the blog. This is what gives students ownership and has them take pride in their blogging. If it is truly their voice being heard in whatever fashion they want to present it, then they are eager to show it off. Blogging has to be authentic for it to work.

11. Give it Time

Great blogging and great connections don’t happen overnight, so give it time. Let the students develop as bloggers, celebrate their successes, and map their connections. Make it an integral part of your classroom and watch it become one. Blogging is not just about writing, it is about bringing the world and making it a little bit smaller.

In the end, blogging should not be a burden in your already full day, it should be a way to take the writing already done and expand it to a global audience. Students should love blogging, not see it as another thing to get done (which is also why I never grade my students’ blogs) and they should be eager to expand their worlds.

If you are ever in need of someone to connect to or ask questions, please reach out to me @pernilleripp on Twitter. I will gladly help because after all blogging is about expanding your own comfort zone and creating authentic, global collaboration.

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