Classroom blogs: Where do I begin?

July 30th, 2009

Are you thinking about starting your very own classroom blog? Gresham Brown, a fourth-grade teacher from Greenville, South Carolina shared some good advice recently about how he started and maintains his own active, lively classroom blog.

But if you are just in the “thinking about” phase of starting your classroom blog, we have a guest blogger who knows how you feel. Amanda Villagomez is a middle school language arts and social studies teacher at a dual immersion school in eastern Oregon. She and her teaching partner are just beginning to explore blogging platforms like Edublogs to host their classroom blog. Amanda will share her experiences as she thinks about how best to use the blog to benefit her students, how to get parents involved, and how to keep the blog active and engaging throughout the year. This is her first entry in a series.

I started blogging regularly a little over a year ago after seeing how much my sister was enjoying hers. This spring as I was getting more familiar with the process, I started to consider how much a classroom blog would be beneficial for my classroom. Not only would it be a resource for parents with Internet access to have frequent glimpses into what is going on in my class, but it would also provide students with a permanent record of classroom related materials that they can access from their laptops at school. It will also be one more venue for them to do real world writing, such as book reviews. They can also practice their speaking skills via podcasting. The possibilities seem endless.

Although I was more familiar with Blogger, I was interested in Edublogs since it is created specifically for education and has the capability for teachers to create individual student blogs linked to the class blog. Even though I am planning on testing out student blogs with a few students who express interest before introducing them to the class as a whole, I wanted to start out with the platform that would be most useful long term. I also appreciated the different settings Edublogs has available to consider Internet safety and to make it easier for teachers to moderate the blogs.

I mentioned the idea of a classroom blog to my new teaching partner, and she was also interested. Last week we set up our individual Edublog accounts and started exploring. While many of my Blogger experiences transfer over to Edublogs, which uses WordPress, there is still plenty to figure out with the new format. Luckily, the site also provides a lot of support and tutorial videos for teachers new to blogging. As I have started looking around, it looks like it will have some useful features not available on Blogger as well, such as pages and capabilities to upload a wider variety of files.

For now my class blog only has a welcome message, and I intend to keep the blog simple until we have our back to school meeting right before school starts. In order for the blog to be effective, I need to make sure that it is not overwhelming from the start. As the year gets underway I will be able to introduce each new piece to students as I add them on until they get more familiar with the blog features.

The most important part for me in this stage of starting my first classroom blog is to just jump right in and start experimenting. As a long-term goal I will get my students set up with their own blogs, but first I want to get to know Edublogs and familiarize students with the concept of blogging. It will also give me a chance to explore the site and make sure that Edublogs will fit our needs. Although I am hoping Edublogs will be a great fit, I am open to switching to another site if necessary. It would be a lot easier for me to switch our one classroom blog, rather than having to also switch my 50 middle schoolers’ blogs as well. As with any new experience, I am going to begin the year knowing that it will take a while to completely implement this new component to my classroom and take it one step at a time.

Visit Amanda’s professional blog Snapshots of Mrs. V and her classroom blog. What are some of your thoughts and questions as you start your own classroom blog?

Entry Filed under: Classroom practice

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deb Casilio  |  July 30th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    This series couldn’t be any more perfect! I look forward to reading about your discoveries while I am doing my own exploration. I am just now debating switching from a static “class web site” to a much more dynamic blog. Good luck! I can’t wait to read what you have in store đŸ™‚

  • 2. Bethany  |  July 30th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    You know, I tried to keep up with a classroom blog last year but it was pretty much a failure. I used Blogger because of its simplicity and would use it mainly to upload photos of students’ projects, TeacherTube videos, and small notes to check in with parents. The problem I had was that I already had my own classroom website to maintain and it seemed easier to just post all information to my school page than to keep up two sites.

    I’d like to try again this year. However, I’d like it to be my students’ work that is getting published, not mine, i.e. book recommendations, reviews, poems, essays, etc.

  • 3. Karen  |  August 2nd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I am so interested in following your progress. I too am wanting to start a classroom blog. I have not blogged in the past but really want to incorporate this strategy into my classroom of 5th grade. I will appreciate all I can learn from others in this area.

  • 4. Mrs. V  |  August 5th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I am glad that others are also working on starting up classroom blogs. I look forward to further discussions as the year goes on.

  • 5. Stacey  |  August 15th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts in the weeks to come!

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