Beginners Guide for Teachers to Teach the Art of Blogging It is refreshing to see how well respected the branch of student writing is becoming. As more educators see its benefit, they are embracing it and including it in their curriculum. In the early 2000’s, when I first started out blogging with my students, I had no idea what I was doing. I just jumped in the water, something that goes well with my impulsive personality. Wouldn't you rather just do something instead of spend days reading pages and pages on how to do it before you try? That being said, there is a system that has been proven to produce good results with student blogging. The following is a beginner’s guide to help you start student blogging. It is an overview of what I have learned and what I implement in my classroom on an annual basis. One thing to mention before we start. A lot of school districts would rather students post on a subdomain or directory of the school website rather than have them use 3rd party hosting solutions. The tips we’re sharing with you today are more suited for those looking to teach students how to setup a blog on another website. 1. Ask “Why” If you and your students know why you are blogging, it is a lot easier to get excited about it. Blogging should not be a boring exercise in typing. The best results are seen when you reflect on why you want to blog first and then address the technical aspects of it. 2. Choose the Right Platform Kidblog is a great platform. Some think it’s more for elementary students. However, recent updates to the platform make me think otherwise. Edublogs is another blogging platform for students. It is popular and well recommended. 3. Do Your Due Diligence Before diving in, get the necessary permissions from principles, tech coordinators, and especially from parents. The more transparent you are throughout the endeavor, the more support you will likely receive from parents and administrative staff. You need to be proactive when addressing online safety as well as finding the right blogging platform. This is one instance where it is better to ask for permission first as opposed to asking for forgiveness later. 4. The Difference between Blogging and Writing Many of your students understand what a blog is, but some of them may only have a vague understanding. So you need to be very clear about the differences between writing and blogging. Doing this will help your students know what content may be appropriate for a blog post and what content may not be appropriate for a blog post. 5. Safety, Safety, Safety One of the first discussions you should have with your students, even prior to them logging into their blog account, is Internet safety. Find a good analogy to get students to think about their online behavior and about the long-term ramifications of what they post. I recommend writing up a special contract between you and the students that outlines what is expected of them when it comes to online safety. Online safety is something that you should discuss with your students over and over again throughout the year. 6. Write It out on Paper Doing a paper blog is an excellent way to get your students excited about blogging. When you review their paper blog, help them see how they can add their own personality to what they write. 7. Discuss Commenting If a blog is going to be effective, your students need to understand how to interact with those who leave comments on their blog. Your students need to learn how to create a productive dialogue in the comment section. They should be taught the difference between feedback and constructive feedback. Set clear parameters to keep the standard of writing high. 8. Never Underestimate Small Beginnings Start small by having your students introduce themselves. This allows them to start to create connections as they reach others. The goal is to spark conversations. 9. Get Connected to Others Quadblogging is a great tool to reach out to other classrooms and establish a good blogging relationship. You will see excitement grow in your students as they are able to establish connections with kids around the world and keep that connection strong throughout the year. 10. Help Your Students Personalize Their Blog Help your students come up with ideas for what to blog about it. However, remember that their blog belongs to them. Give them time to develop and explore the blog. Let them feel ownership over what they write, and this will engender a sense of pride in them. It may even encourage them to pursue blogging as a future vocation. It’s their voice, so let them present it however they want. Blogging will only work if it is authentic. 11. Give Them Time to Grow Blogging connections don’t happen overnight. They take time. Your students will need to develop their skills as bloggers, learn from their mistakes, and rejoice in their success. Remember, blogging is not simply about writing. It is a way to find your voice and share it with the world. Your students should not feel that blogging is a burden. It should be a way for them to take what they’re already writing and give it a global voice. Your students should love blogging, not see it as a chore they need to get done.