This semester, I am doing a three-week interning block in a Grade 7/8 split class. Coming into the classroom in the middle of the school year has been challenging and learning who the students are in a hurry was one of my top priorities. My teaching partner and I attempted to do an activity that introduced us to the students and them to us. It was interesting and informative, but quick. Thinking back now, I do not really remember much of what the students told me and they probably remember less about me.
The idea of Classroom Blogging was first introduced to me in my ECMP355 – Introduction to Computers in Education class at the University of Regina. I decided that I would give Classroom Blogging a chance and set out to set one up for my class. The first website I tried to use was edublogs.org and at first glance it appeared perfect. Unfortunately, as I dug deeper into the site, I realized that many of the features were disabled until you ‘upgraded’ to a better version. I was only teaching this class for three weeks and decided that it would be worth it to ‘upgrade’.
The next site I found was KidBlog.org. This site was perfect. It allowed me to set up a classroom blog, monitor the posts and comments done by students, restrict access to the site (which I would use until I had the chance to teach my students about protecting themselves online) and it was all so easy to manage.
During class, I had my students sign in and read their first task (a post which I had written earlier). It instructed students to write their own ‘About Me’ page (the typical ‘starting point’ of any blog). This was originally meant to simply give students a chance to try blogging, feel out the site and try some different things. What I didn’t expect was to get such and in-depth look into the lives of my students. Each ‘About Me’ post was filled with interesting facts about my students and I was able to learn so much more about them then I had in the week that I had already spent with them.
When I start my full-internship next Fall, I plan to use a Classroom Blog from the first day. Blogging allows students who are quiet in person the opportunity to speak-up through their words. I also love the commenting abilities of a Classroom Blog. Not only does this allow my as the teacher to provide formative feedback to my students, but also allows them to give constructive feedback to their peers.
If you haven’t tried blogging with your class yet, I highly recommend it.