This blog post is an excerpt from the updated 2021-22 version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook which will available this weekend. Subscribe to my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter to have a PDF copy sent directly to you on August 15th.
Whether your students are just learning how to type or they’re aspiring journalists, there are lots of ways to use blogging as a classroom activity. Edublogs offers a nice directory of active classroom blogs. Take a look through that directory at theedublogger.com/check-out-these-class-blogs/ to find some good examples of how teachers are using blogs in all grade levels from Kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Before jumping into the activities that you could possibly do with your students, let’s review some ground rules that you should establish with your students for publishing online. These ground rules can apply to any activity that involves online publishing, not just blog publishing.
- Everything you publish on the classroom blog will be held to the same standard as things you do and say in the classroom.
- Try to use your best spelling and grammar. (Side note, I try to refrain from correcting things like spelling and grammar on a public forum).
- Keep comments polite and productive.
- Refrain from publishing sensitive personal information.
- Check with classmates before writing about them or posting pictures of them.
Check with your school’s IT department as they may already have a set of guidelines for publishing blog posts and or use of students’ images on public-facing forums like blogs or videos. If that is the case, review the guidelines to make sure you are in compliance with them and talk to your IT administration if you think there needs to be an exception or alteration made. It is also important to clearly communicate to students’ parents why your students will be blogging. In that communication to parents explain how you’ll be using students’ work as well as how you will protect students’ privacy.
Blogging Activities for K-2
One of the best ways to use blogging with students of this age is to have students write a sentence or two about a picture. You could start the process by uploading a picture then having students write one comment about what they see or what they think about the picture. One of my favorite examples of this activity came from Jennifer Lefebvre who had her P1 (grade 1) students write about their class mascot which was a stuffed animal. Her students wrote about what the mascot did and what they did with the mascot.
In the fall of 2018 I worked with a second grade class that invited parents to participate in a modified blogging activity. The blog was established through Seesaw. Parents used the video recording function in Seesaw to record themselves reading books. Those recordings were then posted on the classroom blog for students to watch.
Blogging Activities for 3-5
I don’t think you’ll find a better example of using blogging with students of this age group than Linda Yollis’ Classroom Blog. The blog has the tagline, “Third graders learning and sharing together.” On the blog you’ll find lots of examples of students blogging including “Family Blogging Month.” During Family Blogging Month Mrs. Yollis invites parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to comment on the blog. The blog post announcing Family Blogging Month even includes a video from students about how to write quality blog comments.
It is at this age that many students are introduced to reading news and current events. A site like DOGO News is a good place to find age-appropriate articles for students to read. You can post links to these stories on your classroom blog then have students respond to the stories with comments of their own. Depending upon your students, you may need to include some discussion prompts with the articles that you post for your students to read.
Blogging Activities for 6-8
This is a great time to start letting students have a larger role in communicating information about their schools. Creating a student council blog is one way that you can give students that increased communication responsibility. Let them post daily or weekly announcements in text or video form. Have them write about the decisions that were made in the student council and how the decisions were made.
A blogging activity that I did with eleventh grade students that could easily be modified for middle school students is blogging as historical characters. Students in my U.S. History class wrote a series of blog posts in which they attempted to use the voices of delegates to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. After writing their blog posts they then had to respond in character to classmates’ blog posts.
Blogging Activities for 9-12
By the time students reach high school they are capable of managing and maintaining their own blogs. In doing that students are creating portfolios of their thoughts and their work. You could have students create their own blogs that will serve as portfolios of their work done in your classroom or for the work they’ve done in all of their classes. What’s important in doing this is that students should be writing more than just a simple “I did X.” They should write about the process and what they learned through the process.
In 2019-20 my computer science students used Google Sites to write updates about the projects they were working on. This process forced them to stop and look at what they had done and what they still needed to do. Having them blog about their projects in progress also gave me the opportunity to see where I needed to interject into their project processes.
When I taught a current events course for eleventh and twelfth grade students I made them all editors on a group blog created with Blogger. Every week each student was responsible for posting a news article or video of interest to them along with their own commentary about their chosen article or video. All students were also responsible for commenting on their classmates’ posts.
One more example of using blogs with high school students comes from my former colleague (now retired) Pam Chodosh who used blogging as a publishing outlet for students in her high school journalism class. Obviously, anyone visiting the blog could read the students’ stories. But Pam was able to give her students’ work a bigger audience by getting a local newspaper to link to some of the stories. Those links provided students’ with a far bigger audience than any printed school newspaper could have.