I want to start my students into the world of blogging next year and I need a bit of advice...

Each week my students have a "weekly reader" assignment (thank you Jim Burke!), whereby they go to a website and respond to what the see/hear. My idea for this coming year is that instead of turning their weekly reader assignment in via the traditional method, they post it as a blog entry. That way fellow classmates (or whomever comes across the entry) can comment. I will require all students in the class to sign-up to each blog via a RSS reader.

Here's my main question...

Should I have them sign-up for their own blogs via a source like Blogger or Wordpress? Should I add pages to our current site: Lahaise's Lair, should I add pages to my "personal' blog: Paige's Prose, or something different?

I would really love input from those of you who have experience with student blogs.

Thank you!!

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Research indicates that effective blogging assignments are technically simple. The more complicated the sign-up and setup procedure the more likely students are to become frustrated by the project. I would recommend using what you already have setup.

I summarize the research related to blogging in this presentation.
Hello JR--

This is a great presentation and I am going to work with a group of teachers this week -- blogging, wikis and social bookmarking (Currituck, NC). May I also have permission to link to your presentation and use it this week?
email: Kathryn.Blades@gmail.com (that's my google docs email), school email: kblades@currituck.k12.nc.us

Thank you so much,

Kathy

Kathy Blades
Do you want the kids (and you) to be able to respond to each other or just to your post. If you want them responding to each other's response you will need a threaded discussion---easy to do with Moodle. You can see our student blog here, each student has a personal blog, I blog on the 'front'. Anyone can respond to any one else. Things are slow this summer but will pick up for the blog's third year in the fall. Let me know if you need more info.
If you want to start it off simple and have them just respond to your post then I would recommend that you use a blog that you maintain (this makes it easy to manage and monitor their comments before they become available for public consumption). If from there you want to have them respond to each others commentsyou can continue to use a blog as long as you teach them how to address each other; however, as Nancy mentions the best option would be through threaded discussions (some blogs offer this option). You can see what I have done here and here.
Thank you for the great suggestions.

Nancy, I love your Moodle site. That is exactly what I am after. I have Moodle on my server (all done at home), but it was feeling really complicated, so I walked away from it. Maybe I need to revisit it.

Peter, I hope you don't mind if I use your rules about post commenting. They will be very helpful for my students (and myself)!

I agree that the process needs to be simple. While everyone keeps saying our students are digital natives, I can tell you mine are far behind me when it comes to technology, so the simpler the better! Thanks for that reminder.

I did some investigation today and came across www.wikidot.com. It is very powerful and I can offer page level security. I can set-up a forum, which I think will be the best way for students to post. However, I am very intrigued by the Moodle thing now. Agh! So many decisions.

Thank you for the help!
Paige, I may have mislead you. Our blog is not done with Moodle.Our blog is done with Drupal. If you want to see a Moodle threaded discussion go to my blog and scroll down until you see Moodle book discussions--you will see a threaded discussion. Most blogs don't allow each kid to respond to a prompt and then allow other kids to respond to the responses. Did that make sense?
Ok. I get it. Thanks for clarifying.
If you use Edublogs to host your blog and pay for "supporter" status ($40 per year), you do get the ability to have threaded comments. However, you can still have them work off each other's comments much in the same way you might send a RT in Twitter (i.e., @mrlane).
Feel free to use the rules I have about post commenting...
You guys are great! I love this community. Remember the days when we were in our classrooms, essentially isolated and totally on our own?

Ok, I think I found the *ultimate* solution. Wordpress MU. I already have my own domain name, and my husband assures me that our server can handle the traffic. Or, just regular Wordpress with a forum feature. Either way I think/hope (fingers crossed!) I am good to go.

Your suggestions have been really helpful.
Paige, Sounds like a good plan! Good Luck, N.
I just wanted to throw out one more thought: It seems to me that in a guided situation it is important for students to be able to respond to one another's comments. This adds legitimacy to the importance of writing and enables students to feel the significance that accompany's public writing? Do others agree/disagree?

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