As I mentioned in our first Connected Educator post, my life as a connected educator began with blogging in the classroom. I’m not sure what convinced me to try blogging with my students, but the journey was definitely worth it. I used that blog in much the same way that I might use an Learning Management System like My Big Campus today. I gave and collected assignments, led discussions, shared information, and built community through my blog. If you would like to see one of my classroom blogs, you can visit the Sweater Vest Blog to see what it looked like in action. Keep in mind that (as with all blogs) the most recent post is at the top, so digging deeper into the blog takes you back in time.
Since then, I have seen all kinds of amazing education blogs. Some of them, like my first blogs, are classroom based, but teacher-run. Others are classroom blogs written by students. Still others are blogs that teachers write to connect their classrooms with parents and the world. Beyond that, many educators blog reflectively to share their ideas about teaching and learning with the world. Yesterday’s post shared some of these blogs that are worth following and commenting to, as well as some great advice for starting your own.
Back when I blogged in the classroom, I found that there were several benefits to blogging:
- Blogging helps build community.
- Blogging gives even the quiet kids a voice.
- Blogging enables questions and feedback beyond the classroom.
- Blogging creates an authentic audience for student work.
- Blogging makes a permanent digital record of shared resources and interactions.
- Blogging makes linking to digital resources easier.
- Blogging saves paper!
- Blogging enables immediate updates to information.
- Blogging helps teach good digital citizenship.
- Blogging extends class time after the bell.
- Blogging gives teachers opportunities to offer reflective feedback.
Today, I continue to blog, but my purpose and audience have shifted. With my The Playground Advocate Blog, my purpose is to reflect on and share my developing ideas about education with other educators. If a resource or conversation I create can help another teacher, I hope that it will reach them. I also hope that educators will read my blog and help shape my thinking with their feedback.
Whatever your motivation to blog, the actual process is relatively simple. There are many free web tools to get you started, and there is a lot of good advice out there to help the beginning blogger find his or her place in the blogosphere.
Here’s my advice:
- Think about your audience and purpose before you begin. What is it that you are hoping to accomplish with the blog, and who is it that you imagine will read your blog. Sharing this as the subject of your first post will help to establish some focus to your efforts.
- If you are sharing the blog with a community of students (as I did with my first blog) set some clear expectations about how you will interact in that space.
- Also, if the blog is intended to serve a specific community (like students or parents), solicit ideas for how to make the blog useful and meaningful to the community.
- Blog regularly. Someone once told me that everything can be a blog post. When you are putting effort into something find a way to feature it on your blog. This is especially useful if you are authoring a reflective blog.
- Keep your content changing. This is related to number 4. People are more likely to return to a blog that they know will have something new to look at and interact with. This is especially true if your audience is students. Give them reasons to come back.
- Forgive yourself when you don’t keep up with your blog (we all get busy), but let the guilt keep you coming back.
- Think of your blog as more than a newsletter. Think of it as a community. Build it so that you are building relationships. That means bring your personality to the virtual page.
- Invite interaction. While writing a blog post can be for the purpose of informing, inviting conversation transforms the post into a conversation that have greater value.
- It’s okay to abandon ship on a blog and start a new one. I’ve had a dozen blogs since I began. Some have ended because my audience has changed, others because I reframed my purpose.
If you are interested in other resources to get started, I would recommend the following links:
- So…You Want to Use Blogs in the Classroom
- Blogging in the 21st Century Classroom
- Picking the Best Platform for your Classroom Blog
- 33 Ways to Use Blogs in Your Classroom
- The Ultimate Guide to the Use of Blogs in Teaching
- 40+ Examples of Classroom and School Blogs
One thing we are interested in developing here in the EVSC is a list of education blogs that are authored by EVSC educators and/or students. Our hope is to create a space where teachers can go to see what their colleagues are contributing to the blogosphere, and to learn more ways to have success with blogging in education. So here are some things you can do to participate:
If you have a classroom, school or reflective blog that you can share, please share the link with us in the comments below.
We encourage you to share your own advice for the beginning blogger here as well.
Also, if you follow a blog that you feel we should feature for our readers, let us know the URL and tell us why you like it.
If you are interested in classroom blogging and would like to consult with an ICATS, you can ask your questions here or make a PD request.
If you decide to create a blog, please share your experiences and advice with us here as well.