Classroom blogs: Exploring and experimenting

November 5th, 2009

In July, Amanda Villagomez, a middle-school language arts and social studies teacher from Oregon, shared her plans for starting and maintaining a classroom blog. We checked in with her recently to see how the blog was doing now that the schoolyear was well underway, and to find out about her plans for her blog.

My classroom blogging journey had a later start than I initially expected. As my school is growing, another building on our property was partially renovated in order to house my new classroom. I was able to move into my new classroom one week before students arrived, but the technology was not ready. While planning over the summer I failed to consider the possibility that all of the technology might not be in place at the start of the school year. It ended up that my projector and Smart Board were not up until about 5 weeks into the quarter. I decided to hold off on blog posts (with a few exceptions) until all technology was in place. Nonetheless, I had a chance to get my feet wet with classroom blogging with the second half of the quarter.

Learning to navigate Edublogs has been relatively easy. Whenever I was confused about a difference between Blogger and Edublogs, a quick skim over the options or Edublogs help support solved my issue. This quarter was a chance to begin exploring and experimenting, but I still have so much more that I would like to do with my blog. Rather than getting frustrated that I was not able to start integrating my classroom blog into instruction from the beginning of the year and utilize it as much as I originally expected, I decided to choose areas where I would be able to start easing into the process once my room was completely set up. So far I was able to establish a couple of consistent types of posts. I began with Author Tip Tuesday posts. Over the summer I got the idea to have a weekly feature with writing advice from authors who responded to my request for a tip aimed at middle school aged students. Then I began to post writing mini-lesson information. I created a handbook tab that will serve as a quick way for students to access resource information that would otherwise be harder to find as I start to utilize the blog more. 

Incorporating a classroom blog into my instruction has been fairly easy up to this point. One area where I had to be careful was using other teacher’s ideas. Because many of the handbook posts were inspired by other teachers, I gained permission to use information before posting it. I realized that using a wall chart in my classroom was different than posting the ideas on the Internet. Even though the intended audience (my class) was the same, I knew that a larger audience could access my blog, and I did not want to infringe on any copyright laws. Now I have a procedure in place. After checking in with individual teachers or publishers, depending on the information I want to use, I make sure to always attribute the source once permission is granted. 

At the start of second quarter I am excited to see the new ways that I will be able to use my blog. It did not take me long to realize that it will be a long-term process in order to integrate all components that I would like, so I decided to have goals for each quarter. Second quarter I want to:

*Continue posting handbook information. I will have students gain more familiarity navigating this resource from their laptops during workshop time.

*Start having one book club group discuss on-line via the blot. Once I try this out with one group and have it running smoothly, I will expand this to more groups. 

I have many more long-term goals that I will begin if I have the chance. However, for now I wanted to make sure that I had reasonable goals, as I am also experimenting with other new components in my curriculum. I look forward to seeing the way my blog will evolve this quarter, the rest of this year, and future years of teaching.

Entry Filed under: Classroom practice

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary  |  November 7th, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Amanda is amazing! Most teachers would become so frustrated by the opportunity to move right before students arrive, let alone not have technology up and running. Here, Amanda shows her positive outlook as well as great ideas! Thank you!

  • 2. Classroom Blogs: Online B&hellip  |  March 22nd, 2010 at 10:20 am

    […] been following the progress of Amanda Villagomez during her first year of using a classroom blog in her middle school language arts classes. In her prior posts, Amanda talked about setting up the […]

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