Using Blogs in the Classroom

We’ve all heard of blogs, read blogs, and maybe even written one too, but how can these online interactive journals be used in the classrom? I’ve recently sat down to further ponder this question. Wait ’til you see what I’ve come up with.To start, I initially thought about using a classroom blog a few years ago but that idea¬†fizzled away due to lack of planning on my part. In the end it was a flop and I forgot about it entirely until recently.

There I was making updates to a few pages on my website when I saw the link to my old classroom blog. I looked at it and what I saw was pretty sad. There were only two entries posted and a few comments from three years ago. I did think about ditching the entire idea and forgetting about the blog, but then I remembered that the original idea to use it was brilliant. So I decided to really take time and decide how I would use it, what changes I would make, and how would I introduce it to students and parents.

As a result of all of this, I did some research on how other teachers use blogs in their classrooms and what technology experts have to say about the benefits of using them with students. The end product of all my research and findings was the document I am providing below to all who read this post. I also decided to change blog providers and recreate a new refreshed classroom blog.

In a nutshell, I plan on being the moderator of the blog and writing posts for students to respond to with comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, etc. Students may reply to these posts during class time or it may be assigned for homework. Here are some examples of the types of posts I will have students respond to:

Reading Response
Post questions about literature we are reading in class and ask students to post their answers, opinions, and questions as part of an extension from class learning.

Writing Enrichment
Post information about a writing skill we learned in class and have students provide their own example of that writing skill. For example: If I’m teaching about using stronger verbs in their writing, I might write a sentence using weak verbs and have students reply to the post with a revised version of the sentence using stronger verbs. Another example would be to have students practice writing a great beginning to a given topic.

Math Practice
Post a review of a skill learned in math during the week and have students reply by writing their own problems with solutions using that skill.

Science and Social Studies Extensions
Post notes on a scientific or social studies topic learned in class and have students reflect through their posts.

Other teachers of older students actually have each student create a blog where they are encouraged to post school-related topics as an extension of classroom learning.

Here are some places that offer free classroom blogs:

www.blogger.com
I had my previous blog with blogger but chose to move it to wordpress because the “Next Blog” link on the top toolbar may sometimes lead students and/or parents to inappropriate blogs.

www.wordpress.com
I use this site for my current classroom blog.

www.edublogs.org

This site specializes on blogs for students and teachers. “It’s safe, easy, and secure.”

A NOTE ABOUT SAFETY

It’s important to review your district’s guidelines on acceptable use policies regarding the use of school-wide computer networks and the Internet. You should also pay close attention to what your district’s guidelines say about displaying student work online and take the necessary steps to secure parental permission before using a classroom room in a participatory manner.

It’s also important to teach students about online safety and never revealing any personal information about themselves through their comments. Students should only use first names or nicknames, NO LAST NAMES! In addition, students should also be taught about respecting other people’s privacy and rights when writing posts or comments to the blog.

I’ve included more information about online safety as well as a list of Blogging Rules and a Blogging Permission Slip to give to parents in the document found below.

I hope this post has given you information on how to effectively incorporate the use of blogs in your classrooms. I can’t wait to launch my new classroom bog this upcoming school year and have students get motivated about participating in this online collaborative tool.

Document Download

Using.Blogs.in.the.Classroom

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New Math Poster Creations

After a very busy school year, I’m ready to start posting new ideas to my blog. “It’s about time!” the voice in my head shouts. To kick off my new avalanche of ideas, I would like to start with these cute math posters I just created with the purpose of helping students solve math problems.

The first poster features Dr. Math. He’s a specialist who can only perform four basic operations: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. On the poster he asks students, “Which operation would you like me to perform today?”

The second poster features Aunt Sally. She makes really great mathematical recipes but in order to get the right answer you have to follow the recipe which is the Order of Operations.

Both of these posters feature graphics from Thistle Girl Designs (www.thistlegirldesigns.com). I recently purchased a Resellers license from her and a Smart Notebook Lesson Creator license too so I can create documents and files using her graphics and be able to share them with others. I hope you enjoy these files. You are free to photocopy and use them with students and teachers at your school. Be sure proper credit is given and maintained. Please feel free to leave me a comment or feedback. Enjoy!

Download the Math Posters Below:

Dr. Math (Basic Operations)

Aunt Sally (Order of Operations)