Thursday, December 13, 2007

School Blogs You Could Start Tomorrow

A colleague recently told me they weren't sure what they could do with a blog in their classroom. I was frustrated at first by this comment as I've talked blogs up so much in the past. Thinking about it later, I figured I am just not presenting this option in a user friendly matter. I challenged myself to come up with a list of ten school related blogging ideas off the top of my head I could hand to the next person who needs a little guidance. I came up with thirteen before I figured the list was getting too long. Sometimes I am an over achiever!

A teacher can modify these based on the age of the target group, student access to a computer and the amount of time they (the teacher) wants to spend monitoring comments. If you have very wordy students you might even add some guidelines regarding length of comment. Remember, you need to sleep once in a while.

Also give a little thought to your purpose. Is the blog informational? Instructional? Skill practice? Set your beginning parameters with these end goals in mind.

1. Daily Notes (student generated)
  • I like the idea of selecting a daily scribe from the classroom. It is this student's responsibility to write down the class notes for the day that will be posted on the blog. Any additions or corrections could be done by the instructor and/or other students through comments.
2. Daily Notes (instructor generated)
  • You may need to be a little more formal than the first idea. You can post your daily notes online and then your students could ask questions, elaborate or wax poetic about your oratory skill in the comment section.

3. Homework Log
  • Any homework assignment is given here with materials needed and due dates. Questions for clarification on the homework can be asked in the comment section.

4. Supplemental Reading
  • Books, articles, and web sites can all be recommended her as a supplement above and beyond what was covered in class. Students can comment on your choices or make recommendations of their own.

5. Favorite Book
  • Everyone in the class recommends a favorite book with a brief description. If others know the book or read it, they can give their opinion. There has to be a reason given for liking or disliking the book.

6. Reviews
  • These can be reviews of music or movies or television shows. I see the purpose of this one as getting kids to write, so the content isn't as important as promoting everyone's involvement. Your purpose may be different and you can adjust the focus. After all, you are the teacher.

7. Daily Quote
  • Student or teacher generated quote. This can be wide open or narrowed down to the topic being covered in class. Everyone is expected to comment on the quotes. With the national elections coming up, how about a daily quote from one of the candidates?

8. Current Events
  • An old favorite from my social studies classes with a modern twist. Student posts a summary of a news event from the previous day that they feel is important. They explain why it's important. They create a link to at least one online source of the story (two would be better). Everyone else gets to state an opinion on how important the story is and the credibility of the source.

9. Meeting notes
  • This one has a staff focus. A scribe summarizes the notes down to easy bullet points for a staff, department, core or district meeting. Be sure to include deadlines and upcoming tasks. Links to online documents that were handed out in the meeting. Clarifications and corrections can be added in the comment section.

10. Book Discussion
  • I've done this with a group of teachers but it could easily be done in a classroom. Each person is assigned a chapter or section to facilitate. When their turn comes up they write a short summary and then ask one or two open ended questions. Everyone then comments on the questions or the chapter or both.

11. Daily Picture
  • Document the year with daily classroom pictures. These could be shots of activities, experiments, assignments, presentations or pretty much anything that happens. Let the students help you determine what should be posted. Maybe assign a daily photographer.

12. Picture Analysis
  • I often used photos as a primary source in my history classes. See how much your kids can pick up by studying a photograph. You could make it less formal and post a picture of the author or explorer or dead guy you talked about in class that day. Help the kids to put a face or an image to an event.

13. Student Work
  • An English teacher I work with has her students critique each other's work. She spends a lot of time working with them on how to do this constructively. I think this could be adopted for a blog. Have a student pick a short piece and post it. They ask the class for the kind of feedback desired. Grammar? Voice? Logic?

OK folks. Your turn. Give me a brief description of something you use or have seen. I am going to start keeping a list of ideas as I come across them on the web. If I get enough, maybe I will redo this into a bigger list.

[Update: Just before posting this I ran across a similar list at edublog called "10 ways to use your edublog to teach". Some over lap but still worth reading or pointing out to a colleague.

Also saw this post on "Some Sample Blog Assignments Aligned to the New ISTE NET-S" on David Warlick's blog. Some very specific ideas. David also has a book available on educational blogging called Classroom Blogging. Warlick is an excellent source for information on blogging.

Even a simple search will bring up a plethora of ideas! I keep finding these references and I'm not looking.]

[Image: rusr8307.jpg | DEYNEKA Aleksandr | A Race. | c. 1932-1933 | Russian | Socialist Realist | | Russia. | | ©Kathleen Cohen$2820*383573]

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