Recently, Wesley Fryer forced me to realize that I am simply "digitizing school 1.0 (as he put it at NECC)". While I thought I was using my classroom blog (www.mrfowler.wordpress.com) in an innovative way, I am pretty much just having my classroom have a conversation with themselves electronically. While this does improve typing skills, it doesn't incorporate conversation with the outside world. For this reason I have a few questions:

1. How do others incorporate blogs into the school day?
2. What type of topics do you blog about?
3. What strategies have been effective in bringing in genuine collaboration between students and professionals in the real world?

I am very anxious to hear what others are doing!

Cheers,
Mitch

Tags: Blogs, Collaboration, Elementary Education, Wesley Fryer, blogging, elementary

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Which blogging tool are you using?
I'm currently set up on Blogspot (http://sullivansclass.blogspot.com/) but am very interested in Blogmeister. It looks like it is easier to set up for students work on it. I'm working on getting a school pass code so I can try it out.
We had presentations tonight in my grad school class of social software, and my classmate showed us how the "next" button on blogger seems to always find pornography in a few clicks. Just a warning. I had just created a new school library blog on blogger, and I'm looking for someone else to host it.
Originally, blogging was a "self-contained" homework assignment we gave to our students. It was similar to journaling their experiences with curriculum and projects, etc, but it was ONLINE. It wasn't until we had other people and students respond to our class blog, that the students truly got excited about blogging and participating in blogging on a different level. They had vested interest in the content of their blogs because they now had READERS. While we still had classroom blogging assignments, we gave the students creative license and they started blogging about everything and anything they could think of. They truly enjoyed connecting with other classrooms, having conversations with students and adults around the world, and they eagerly watched our clustr map grow.

Using Gordon's site as a model, we taught our students to hyperlink their individual blogging addresses when they left messages on other students' blogs from other classes. This helped us to foster communication and conversation between students.

Our site is the South Paris Collaborative.
Awesome conversation! This is exactly what I want my students to learn; Dialouge generates conversations which can serve as an awesome resource. I particuarly love Dave's comment about school 0.0 expectations, how true! In addition, although I didn't really notice an improvement in the students' formal writing, our class started to have richer conversations. I started to see kids responding to each other directly, instead of looking at me as if I have to say something to keep the conversation going. I have had a great time checking out other people's blogs as well as the various resources people have recommended. I'll keep checking back to see what others have to say. Thanks for your help!
I like to have my students blog in the voice of someone or something else.

Science teachers have assigned students an element and the student writes in the "voice" of hydrogen, etc...other elements that it 'mixes well' with will post comments and those that can create a 'combustible' relationship chime in as well. Currently, this is self-contained in our school, but we integrate with an English class that reads "Brave New World".

If your students have another outlet to share, communicate, demonstrate respect, and validate one another, then keeping it 'in house' doesn't matter.

The quiet student may have a voice that resonates in the blog. The intractable child may communicate with precision and poise.

You, the teacher, HAVE most definitely made a difference!

Ken
I just introduced blogging to my 5th Graders. I teach in a computer lab as a specials class, so I only see my students for a week every 4 weeks. However, they were hooked on the idea of a blog, and when I explained that they would "impersonate" a famous individual and keep a blog for them, they were very excited. They are even working on them from home and in their classrooms.

For now I am using Kidblog.org, and the blogs are public for all. Kidblog has proven VERY simple, but a good start for a teacher who has never blogged with students.

I have to present this to our school board Wednesday night. Just hope I have enough there to impress!
Why do you have them "impersonate" someone else as opposed to being themselves. Don't you want them to learn about being truthful and responsible for the contect that they publish? I would think that this would be a good way to incorporate rules of netiquette, online safety, etc. Just curious. I'm going to take a look at kidblogs, as this is one I haven't tried yet.
My students are also starting their own blogs for their writing and sharing of reading, but this project is in lieu of an ordinary report for social studies. So far it has been met with very positive responses from teachers, students, and administrators.

Just a suggested use for blogging, but may not be for everyone.
Aah, now I see. You didn't say that in the original post so that's why I was curious about the impersonating thing.
Interesting idea - students can still demonstrate their knowledge as they would in the typical report, but in a fun way that will be far more engaging for students than the typical 5 paragraph essay. This has given me an idea to run by middle school social studies teachers - why not have students blog their way through time, something of a Time Travelers concept?? The Virginia history SOLs (at least for middle school US History) require students make a connection between the past and the present. Students could use their blog to make note of differences between then and now, write about what they would see if they were at a particular place and time. Thanks for the idea.
One thing no one is mentioning that I think is really crucial is that with blogging you, as a teacher, become more accountable to the parents. The parents can now see on day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis just what you're doing with their kids. While we sometimes think schooling is about what teachers can accomplish with OUR students, we're really taking care of someone else's kids and blogs help those "someone elses" know just what we're doing.

That's a very useful result.

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