Friday, 27 December 2013

Creating a Class Blog

My Current Class Blog
Since my first classroom, I have always tried to have a class website.  When I was teaching grades 3/4, it was a great way of sharing the work we were doing in class, and keeping in touch with parents.  I remember trying to explain what I was doing at our first meet the teacher night; and I didn't explain myself clearly, because whatever I said, the parents wanted no part of a class website at first!  Part of the reason, I couldn't explain the purpose of the class site, was I didn't really know what I was using it for.  Since my students were pretty young, it remained a tool for communication.

As I became more informed about the use of a blog in the classroom, and how it can be a tool for engagement, I changed my thoughts on how to use a blog in the classroom.  For me the first step in creating my classroom blog was to define its purpose.  

As a tool for teaching, I use my blog as a collection of resources; songs, videos, games that I want to use in class.  When we do an online activity in class, I make sure to add it to the blog.  That way students can access the resources outside of French class.  I also use the blog as a "news desk" for the class.  I post a news item about any special events in or outside of the school.  We use it as a warm-up reading activity in class.  

As a tool for learning, my students an engage with the posts I make, by adding comments.  (As of now, another challenge I have is getting my student logins to work-- but I am working on it!)  They use it to show their parents their work (I post really good work on the blog, so its an incentive to do their best).  There are links for students to visit- links that include FSL resources for homework help and practice, games, TV show websites, FSL youtube channels, anything I find that would be interesting to the students.

Creating the blog is easy enough; there are may platforms that are simple to use and yield almost immediate results.  For my first class blog, I used blogger (which I am using right now.)  It has many choices for templates/ designs, and you can have your blog up and running in under 10 minutes.  Because others have done it much better than I could, here are some links on starting a blog using the online Blogger platform here, here and here.  The other free platform is Wordpress. Many people prefer Wordpress because it allows for more freedom in design, and posting.  I think its personal preference.  Some bloggers have made comparisons for you.  If you would like to know the differences read this.  Here's a great article on starting with Wordpress.   

(I am lucky enough to have a platform through my school board.  I chose to use my school boards platform for the added security features for my classroom blog.  Because sometimes I post pictures of my students, I have a password-protected classroom blog.  This was a decision I made for added peace of mind for the parents of my students.)

Once its up and running, promote it! 
  • Post the blog URL and password in every classroom you teach in.  
  • I made business cards with my blogs URL and password on it for students and parents.  
  • Exchange links with other teachers to post on their classroom blogs
  • Use the blog in class.  
  • For fast-finishers, they can explore the blog after they have completed their work.

Right now, the class blog is a really great resource for me and my students.  For some more information on Educational Blogging, here are some great articles:

And of course, if there is anything I can do to help you in your educational blogging journey, ask in the comments!