This is my attempt on Sue Water‘s “Share your tips and win big!” challenge on her blog: The Edublogger. I decided to post about “5 important tips for educators who are starting out blogging with their students” thinking I would have an interesting perspective- being a student myself.
What are your 5 most important tips for educators starting out blogging with students?
1. Be prepared. Know what your students are allowed to do on their blogs and what they are not. Find out how everything works (e.g. using HTML codes for widgets) so your students will be able to come to you for help. Find cool blogs from all around the world: because being a student I know that I love more than anything to have red dots popping up on my Clustr map. Having lists of blogs prepared will make it easier for students to find blogs that they would want to comment on.
2. The teacher should have a blog of their own. It is good to have a model blog: to give the students some ideas of their own and to demonstrate ways to improve their blogs. Also having the educator create a blog of their own enables the teacher to familiarize with using edublogs: so when it comes time for them to help their students it will not be new and foreign to them too. It is fun for students to talk with their teacher via blogging and could turn out to be rewarding- academically wise: my French teacher gives students extra credit if they post thoughtful comments on her blog (even though most do not have blogs of their own) and it could be academic incentive for some kids. Maybe reluctant at first students might just comment just to help their grade and end up more interested in blogging!
3. If you assign posts as homework or class work do not make them too demanding. You do not want your students to have a fear of blogging because they know they have to write particular posts. Let them have some opinion in what they are posting about. Make them feel like they can be creative: they can post about a subject that fascinates or is important to them. You want your students to like blogging- when you enjoy something you always do better at it. You want to keep blogging interesting: not something that your students will fear. Maybe give them an idea or subject that the particular post has to be about but then let them come up with the specifics. You do always want to enforce standard writing conventions: since a blog is a very public outlet and so many people view it, proper spelling,
4. Keep your blog current; post consistently…perhaps one every week. You do not want too much time to lapse between posts- as an avid commenter it always disappoints me when I return to a blog that I like and there are not recent posts. Having ongoing posts will keep readers interested and make new visitors to your blog come back. Encourage your students to keep their blogs up to date with new posts regularly.
5. The way you present blogging needs to be fun. Blogging is fun on its own but if there is no free time to play around with the appearance of their blogs students could begin to dread blogging. By having a healthy mix of fun and school-work blogging is perfect for the classroom. Your students should have some time to play with blog themes, and widgets. As a teacher you should find out in advance some popular widget sites so you can tell your students about them and they can look at the websites if interested. Your students could even find some different widgets than the ones you listed and then you can turn it into a learning opportunity: the student can tell the class about the widget that they found. As they say it is good to stay with the times, so when technology updates be sure to find the newest and coolest widgets! Another important aspect of blog appearance is the blog theme. After all who wants the drab default theme that come with your blog? Students should be allowed some time to look at all the different blog themes. Some blog themes even allow you to put a photo in the header (for example: Mrs. Beal‘s blog). There are so many ways you can personalize your blog through blog themes and widgets and truly make it one of a kind!