The word “blog” is a combination of web and log. So, a Blog is a form of an on-line journal. Typically it integrates graphics, video and commentary about a topic of interest to the author. Effective blogs will provide links to resources and properly credit thoughts and works of contributing authors. They will also allow readers to leave comments.
To find out more about Blogs check out the Common Craft video “Blogs in Plain English” by pressing play below.
What is a MicroBlog?
A microblog is a smaller version of a blog. Typically, it restricts the user to brief posts. One of the most popular microblogging sites is Twitter which restricts its users to 140 characters. This is just enough to provide a thought and a link to another website or video.
To find out more about the popular microblogging site, Twitter, view the Common Craft video “Twitter in Plain English” by pressing play below.
Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
If you want to be an effective blogger it is important to understand the characteristics of a good blog. Blogging is form of writing and as in all writing ,the first step is to identify your purpose and your audience! Know what you want to say and who is reading it and adjust your presentation of ideas accordingly. Remember good writing is still good writing, so voice, style, and mechanics do matter!
Many teachers have class blogs and encourage regular blogging of their students. According to Mhetherington, a grade 6 teacher who blogs regularly with the class the benefits of blogging include:
1. Creating a learning community away from the classroom.
2. Providing an audience of peers and a potentially larger audience of readers.
3. Learning becomes a social and interactive activity where everyone is given a voice.
4. It is creative.
5. If provides differentiation.
6. Improves and encourages reading and writing skills.
7. Encourages research and inquiry.
8. Build technology skills and develops digital citizenship.
For other research supporting the use of Blogs in classrooms, check out the following links:
How Do I Use Blogs in My Classroom?
The following video “How We Blog and Why” helps review why we blog but more importantly how to use them in the classroom:
Some other ways to use Blogs are as follows:
1. To communicate with parents and students outside the classroom in terms of assignments, projects, field trips.
2. To support students who miss blocks of school instruction due to travel, athletics, or illness.
2. To link supplemental material for student reflection on the “big ideas” – this will help provide differentiation and is a way of “flipping” the classroom and encouraging student inquiry.
3. To showcase for student work which allows peers to comment and reflect.
For other ideas on how to use blogs in the classroom click on the following links:
Web 2.0 in the Classroom – “33 Ways to Use Blogs in the Classroom“
Online Degrees.org – “Tips for Using Blogs in the Classroom“
Edublog – “10 Ways to Use Edublogs“
Getting Started – Blog Sites
There are numerous free sites available to educators which host and help you build your blog. Here are three that I have used and found to be easy, intuitive, and effective without the need for expensive upgrades.
1. WordPress – a free and open source blogging tool it is one of the most commonly used content management systems on the internet. It has a wide variety of themes to choose from which offer one or two colomn displays, varying numbers of widgets that are dropped and dragged, and allows pingbacks, and tagging. I find that the dashboard is intutive – it is easy to upload media and to link resources. It also offers a variety of controls regarding privacy and discussion allowing you to moderate comments. Finally, it offers a professional appearance that is aesthetically pleasing, and one of the reasons I chose it for this particular blog! For more information on how to set up on blog on WordPress click on the Chris Abraham video below:
2. Blogger – Blogger is one of the many Google office suite of tools available for use. In order to build a blog on Bloggger you do need to have a gmail account which is free to sign up for, but one of the drawbacks of this free service. One of the first blog publishing tools, it is very popular and has had numerous upgrades which allow comment moderation, drop and drag features, and geotagging. However, in comparison to WordPress, I find it more cumbersome and limiting without the variety of themes and colours and aesthetic appeal of other blog creating and publishing tools. One of the advantages of Blogger is direct publishing integration to Google Docs which makes it a great tool for group collaboration as in a class/student blog.For an tutorial on using Blogger click on the video below:
3. EduBlogs – Again this publishing service is free, and what makes it terrific is that it was designed specifically for teachers and its use for the classroom, and is still the most popular blog for educators. The biggest advantage of Edublog is that it is typically allowed through all school filters and firewalls because of its restrictions to educators and educational content. However, it is more restrictive in terms of its privacy settings. It also offers a class blog management feature. It too, has a variety of free themes adapted from WordPress, and the dashboard is identical to that of WordPress, very easy and intutive to navigate. For more information on how to set up an Edublog check out the many tutorials available on the Edublog.org website or click on the tutorial below:
If you have other great blogging sites or comments regarding any of the three listed above, or just comments about blogging in your classroom feel free to share!