Primary Preoccupation

A grade one teacher inviting the world into her classroom

Primary Preoccupation - A grade one teacher inviting the world into  her classroom

Blogging in a Primary Classroom–With Only One iPad!

Many primary teachers who only have access to one iPad in their classroom assume that there is very little they can do to make that iPad useful for an entire class.  A few weeks ago, I blogged about the way I would do the “listen to reading” option of the Daily Five in a one iPad classroom. Today, I want to share some options for blogging with only one iPad.

Blogging with one iPad is possible with several apps, including the Edublogs and Kidblog apps, which allow multiple users. With Edublogs, all of the users can be logged in on one app. Kidblog also allows this with students just typing in their password each time. These options are definitely doable, but a couple of newer apps make the process even easier, especially for young children.

The Easy App Company has created Easy Blogger Jr. and Easy Blog Jr. The former works with Blogger blogs and the latter works with Edublogs.

Because Easy Blogger Jr. works with Blogger, the blog itself is free. You just have to pay for the app. And because setting up a blog seems daunting to some people, the creators of the app will even set up a blog FOR you. Once you have the blog set up, you just need to add your students’ names and pictures to the app so that they can begin to post.

photo 100

 

I made a practice blog to try this out and discovered that if I gave each student the “label” of their own first name, their name would appear along the side of the blog. While all the student’s posts appear in order of posting on the main blog, clicking on a student’s name on the right brings you to all of the posts that that child has written.

 

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The best part of the app is that even young students can use this app independently. They just touch their own picture…

 

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…and then confirm who they are. Notice that every page has an icon which, when tapped, will read the words aloud to the child.

 

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Students have a choice about what they will post.

 

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If a student chooses a photo, he can even record his or her voice talking about the photo, making the photo into a screencast or video. Just think of the possibilities this holds for young pre-writers to share the things they create!

 

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If you use (or would like to use) Edublogs, the Easy Blog Jr app works just the same, but works with the Edublogs platform instead.

Your students will all be blogging using only one iPad. Such a great way for young children to share their learning with the world!

Full disclosure: The creators of Easy Blog Jr and Easy Blogger Jr gave me a copy of the apps to try.

Changing Face of Early Literacy – Why Digital?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear“Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me,” chanted all of the children in my classroom as they participated in a shared reading time in my classroom. Shared reading, in which all of the children regardless of their reading level read aloud from shared text, has long been considered to be an important part of a balanced early literacy program.

In the good old days, not so long ago, all of the shared reading in my classroom was from books (including ‘big’ books whenever possible) and from poems and chants that I had purchased or carefully printed on chart paper so that the entire class could see.  While I still use these resources when appropriate, much of our shared reading is now digital. We read a variety of digital texts, but most frequently we read tweets written by classes or others we follow on our class Twitter account or we read comments written on our classroom blog or on the blogs of one of the students. We also read blog posts written by classes or students far away.

What Does This Look Like in the Classroom?

Shared Reading of Twitter

During our shared reading, I project either our class Twitter account or our blog comments onto a board and together, we read these tweets or comments aloud.  At the beginning of the school year my students are still pre-readers, so I point to the words as we read, but I turn this job over to my students as soon as it is possible. After reading each tweet, we talk about what we just read. What did we find out? How is that similar to or different from what we have done/studied/know? Do we want to reply to this tweet or comment? What do we want to say?  Since my students are slow typists, at the beginning of the year, this task usually falls to me as they tell me what to say, how to spell words (we stretch out the sounds together) and remind me that we should always re-read a tweet before we press “Tweet”. At this point, the shared reading has turned into a shared writing lesson.

When we read a comment together, we follow a similar pattern. Is this a good comment, something we want posted on our blog? If yes, we click “Approve” and then discuss whether the comment needs to have a response.  If it does, we follow a similar procedure to the one just mentioned.

Why Read Digital?

Why have I made the switch from only traditional text to including digital in my classroom?

1. Much of the reading the students will do outside of my classroom and as they grow up will be digital.  It seems appropriate to begin to acknowledge this right from the start of their reading education.

2.  High interest Students are excited to read text that has been written by other children and classrooms. They like to “get to know” other classrooms by reading what they are up to on Twitter or reading a comment by someone they have never met. They wonder aloud about these people and if appropriate, we respond. We often get responses in return. Never in all of my teaching have I had that kind of authentic engagement with any of my chart paper poems.

3. Personalization Much of the digital text we read is written directly to my class or to one of the students in my class. It is hard to argue against the efficacy of personalization in any kind in learning.

4. The students are able to respond to the text. As I mentioned above, the digital text we read allows for an immediate means to respond. While written response to traditional text is certainly possible, the ability to ask questions and to have them quickly answered by the text’s author (whoever that author might be) is certainly not.

Can you see why I love using Twitter and our blog comments as part of my literacy program? I’m not quite ready to throw out all my charts with poems, songs and chants just yet. They still have value. But it is hard to beat the benefits offered by digital text when doing shared reading.

Using Blogs and Twitter With Young Students: THIS is What it Looks Like

I talk and share what I do with a lots of teachers.  When these educators hear about the ways their colleagues are using blogs and Twitter in their classrooms they are intrigued. Most of them are interested enough to want to look further, but the idea is a bit overwhelming.  I find this to be especially true of primary teachers. “What would that look like with young children?” they wonder.  “What do the different blogging tools look like if you teach six year olds?”  “How could you use Twitter in a kindergarten classroom?” “Yes, I can see what that would look like with older students, but my students are young. Most of them can’t yet write. What would THAT look like?”

Reading Tweets

Reading Tweets

What they really want to see are examples. I can show them my classroom blog and my classroom Twitter account, but there are so many other fabulous classrooms out there learning and sharing their learning in unique and effective ways. Ways that teach traditional literacy skills while also teaching digital literacy including how to learn and how to be safe online.

So for those people who have asked the questions and for anyone else who wants to see what blogging and tweeting in a primary classroom looks like, check out the links to examples below.

This is what it can look like:

Primary (to me that means age 3 – 8) Classes that Tweet*

Primary (again, ages 3 – 8) Classroom Blogs

And just so that those of you who teach older students don’t feel left out, here are some lists for older elementary students.

Classrooms That Tweet (all age levels)*

More Classrooms that Tweet*

Elementary (ages 8 – 12) Classroom Blogs

Blogging

Blogging

I’m grateful to teachers who are willing to add their information to lists like these that are such a help to educators who are just beginning their social media journey.  When you start your own journey, don’t forget to add your link to a list!

A link really is worth a thousand words!

Maybe more.

[*Note: If you have never used Twitter, but want to see the tweets of those teachers who are, you just need to type twitter.com/username in a browser to access their home page with all of their tweets. For example, my classroom Twitter account’s URL is twitter.com/mscassidysclass]

 

What Would You Have Said?

This past week I received this comment on my classroom blog. [Additional Note: I have never met this person. It is not one of my students’ parents.]

Comment 2

The online world that I usually inhabit is a bit of an echo chamber. The people there are online and think that being online is a good thing. It is sometimes good to be reminded that not everyone shares that opinion. This comment pushed me to rethink why I do what I do and whether it is defensible.  My reply is below.

Thank you for your comment.  You clearly care enough about children to comment and I respect that.

I take the safety of my students very seriously.  We regularly talk about how they can keep themselves safe in many different situations. Being online is just one more place they need to learn to be safe.

Classroom BlogYes, I do post pictures of my students online. If you notice, I post pictures of the students only on MY blog, where there are no names ever attached. The students’ FIRST names are attached to their own blog, but you will never see a photo of the student on their own blog, or their last name.  (In fact, I know of blogs in which the teachers do, with the parents’ permission, identify the children by name, but that is not my policy.)

I teach my students carefully about what is appropriate to put online and what is not. They quickly learn how to take photos and make videos that do not show faces so that they can be posted on their blog. When we read comments together, they soon learn to point out if a parent has accidentally included a last name and together we delete that comment before it is posted for the world to see.

It is true that Adam likes Mario. So does every other boy and some of the girls in my classroom. I’m sure this holds true for most six-year-olds.

Although no negative thing has ever happened because of our blog, many wonderful things have happened.  

Because of our blog, the parents of my students are able to watch their child’s learning and as the parents leave comments (which are an integral part of our reading instruction) they become part of the learning as well. Grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, older siblings and other friends drop by just to see what is happening, and may leave a comment as well.  My students beam with pride as the comments, written just for them, are read aloud.

Because of our blog, my students have an audience. They look at the tiny dots on our Clustr map and know that even if people are not commenting, people are seeing what they are posting.  An audience is a powerful motivator for people of any age. Writing for a real audience is so much more powerful than writing something in a notebook that only your teacher will see.

Because of our blog, we sometimes have comments from people we have never met, but who are cheering my students on as they are learning.  These comments send us to a map to find out where in the world Texas, or Romania or Ontario is and then leads to other serendipitous learning and perhaps to a face-to-face meeting through a videoconference of some kind.

Because of our blog, we sometimes get videos or items in the mail from people in far away places. These unexpected treasures lead to even more learning, particularly about empathy and understanding of people who live differently than we do.

Because of our blog, my students are leaning about digital literacy.  In a safe environment, with me to guide them, they are learning what it is appropriate to put online and what is something that should be kept private.  They are beginning to create a positive digital footprint. The Internet is here to stay, and I would prefer that my students learn about online etiquette and safety than to leave this learning to chance.

I’m not sure if you know this, but hundreds (probably thousands) of teachers are now doing the same thing as me—sharing the learning in their classroom online through classroom blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.  

I hope that you can see the positive impact this new way of learning has had on my classroom. Just as with anything new I do in my classroom, I weigh the benefits against any possible risk or difficulties. With the safety features I have built into the blogging process in our classroom and the ongoing discussions I have with the children, there is no contest.  Blogging has opened too many doors for us.

What would you add? How do YOU defend what you do?

Giving Student Choice with Digital Portfolios

My grade one students each have their own blogs that are digital portfolios of their progress from the first week of school until the last one. On those blogs, they post writing, images, video and other artifacts that show what they have been learning. I’ve written (there is an entire chapter in my book) and talked before about digital portfolios, why we use them and how I use them for assessment.

Recently, someone asked me about how I provide for choice in our portfolios. What a great question! Choice should an important part of digital portfolios, and I give my students as much choice as I can as soon as I can.

At the beginning of the school year, as we are learning what it means to show our learning and possible ways to do this, there are fewer choices for the students, but as the year progresses and they become more independent, I turn the choice over to them more and more often.

There are four kinds of posts on my students’ blogs:

  1.  Screen Shot of Zak's VisualizingWe all post a similar artifact. Sometimes when we’ve done something together that I think belongs on their digital record, I do ask them to all post it to their blog. For example, we were recently working on the reading skill of visualizing. I wanted a sample of this to appear on their blogs. Since the students all had several images, and I wanted them to learn how to use the Pic Collage app that I had added to their iPads, I showed them how to use it and asked them to use it to post their images on their blogs.
  2. I choose the outcome but my students choose the tool. That is, I ask them to post about a particular outcome(s), but I give them the choice as to how they show what they know about that outcome. They can choose a digital tool or markers and paper; the choice is theirs. If they choose a non-digital means, they know they will need to make a video or take a picture so that their work can be posted on their blog. Recently, we finished a unit of work about the First Nations people of Saskatchewan, so each of the students got to choose how they would like to show what they had learned. Making a poster with paper and markers was by far the most popular choice, and then those students made a video to explain what they had drawn. Other students chose to take pictures of some artifacts we had in our classroom and then to use the Draw and Tell app to record their voice with individual pictures. Those short videos were then put together using iMovie and posted on their blogs.
  3. 3. The students have a choice about whether or not to post a learning artifact. Often, when we have done something that I think many of them have done well, I will say, “if you would like to post this on your blog, now is a good time to do it”. Some students do and others choose not to.This was the case lately with several pieces of artwork that were completed. The students who wanted to post their artwork simply took a picture of it with their iPad and posted it straight to their blog using the Edublogs app we all use for posting.
  4. The students choose the learning and the tool. As the students become more confident, they begin to ask if they can post things on their blog–things that may not have anything to do with the outcomes that we are studying in school, but are important to them. These might include something they made out of Lego, or a picture they drew or a video they made of falling dominos during an indoor recess. I always say yes because it is, after all, their portfolio.

Learning how to make choices, how to demonstrate your learning and how to choose the best tool to effectively do that are important skills for anyone to learn, and I want the children in my classroom to begin to learn how to do that early in their school career.

Why My Six-Year-Olds Have Digital Portfolios

This article was originally posted on the Getting Smart blog.

From the first week of school, the six year olds in my classroom begin to create an online presence in the form of a digital portfolio.  We use a blogging platform to do this, and include artifacts that show their progress in writing, reading, math, social studies and science.

I am frequently asked why I do this.  Even more frequently, I can see in a colleague’s eyes that they are thinking “why”, even if they don’t verbalize their question.  The way that those educators have always done portfolios has worked well for them. Their students are learning the things they need to learn and are building a paper portfolio as they do so. Why do I take the extra time to upload those artifacts?

Audience

For any writer or creator, it is all about the audience.  Why would a student even want to write on a piece of paper for their teacher to see when they could write on their blog for the world to see?

Because a blog allows comments, the students’ thoughts and learning can be not only read, but responded to as well.  Students relish the feedback a comment gives, whether it is from a classmate, a parent, or someone they have never met. The audience becomes part of the student’s learning.

Creating a Community of Ripples

Having a blog creates a community around our classroom. The articles, podcasts, images and video we post are like stones dropped into a pond.

The first ripple in our circle of community is the circle of parents. Parents can watch their child’s blog and observe their child’s progress first hand. They don’t have to wait until our student-led conferences to see what and how their child has been learning.  The growth is obvious for them to see.

The next ripple is the circle of the child’s extended family, friends and our local community. They, too can watch, encourage and interact.  Often, this circle includes students who have been in my classroom in the past and who come back to our blog to comment and encourage the younger students.

The largest circle is—well—the entire world. We have received comments from many places including many states in the USA, classrooms across Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and New Zealand. And those are just this school year.

That is a very large community.

Digital Footprint

Even at a young age, it is important to begin to have an idea of the significance of a digital footprint, including what things are appropriate to post online, how to protect your identity and ways to interact with others in an online space.  As my six-year-olds grow up, the world will become increasingly digital. Tools will change, but connectedness will continue to grow.   Children need to learn early that it is important to present yourself well online and some of the ways that can be done.

Their Culture

We teach kids that have no concept of a world without the Internet. Technology is a ubiquitous part of their world. They want and expect to use it at home. For me to deny that technology and what it allows them to do would be like asking someone from an earlier generation to learn without a pen or pencil. It just wouldn’t make sense.

Student Conferences

When we have student-led conferences in my classroom, my students use what is posted on their blog as the starting point of our conversation with their parents.  Their moms and dads are already familiar with what is posted, and the students are able to focus on sharing what their goals were, what they feel they are doing well and what they want to get better at.

Student Choice

Allowing students to have some choice in what they create/post is important on so many levels.  It empowers the students and involves them in their own learning. We teach students who have a plethora of choices as to how they spend their time. In addition to the choices children previously had, they can choose from many types of gaming, hundreds of television channels or video on demand.  It only makes sense to give them a sense of choice as to how they show their learning as well.

An online portfolio gives those choices. Students can choose which of the many tools available will best help them to show their learning. Paper is not always the best way to communicate your ideas.

Joy

I will never forget the delight in one of my student’s eyes who had just had a working computer in his home the night before for the first time that school year. “Mrs. Cassidy, I showed my blog to my parents last night. I showed them all my stuff! They liked it!”

That moment of joy was worth the few extra minutes it takes to post my student’s articles online.  I know that, although I don’t always hear about it, that moment is repeated over and over in the homes of all of my students, as they are able to share their learning with their parents at home.

Joy is the best reason I use digital portfolios with my young students. We can all use a little more joy.

 

 

Commenting With Pre and Emerging Writers

“For me? There’s a comment for me?” asked an eager five-year-old in my classroom, eyes aglow. I assured him that the comment was indeed for him and read it aloud to he and his classmates, pointing to each word on the Smartboard as I did so.  He beamed as I read aloud, marveling at the fact that what he had posted on his blog was valuable enough to provoke a response from someone he had never met.

Ensuring All Students Receive Comments

When my students begin blogging each September, I ensure that they ALL begin getting comments as soon as possible. I hold a parent night and show the parents how to comment. I enlist the help of students who were in my classroom in previous years. Sometimes I have put out a plea on Twitter using the hashtag #comments4kids.  I know how encouraging those comments can be, and I want all of my students to have that experience as soon as possible—to feel that rush of acknowledgement a first comment elicits.

Learning to Comment Ourselves

Soon after, I begin teaching my students how to leave comments themselves.  With pre-readers and writers, this is a lengthy process! Sometimes we begin by going to the blog of someone who has just left a comment for us. Sometimes we begin by going to the blog of another classroom that is linked from our classroom blog. Wherever and whenever we begin, we always comment together as a group. (With pre readers and writers, this is not just good pedagodgy, it is a necessity!)

We start by talking about the comments we have received, how they made us feel and what was good about them.  We want to be able to mimic the best of other people’s comments to us.  Almost always, the students want to start by saying “I like your blog”. To help the students to stay on track, and to encourage them to think beyond this over-used phrase, we make an anchor chart to help us remember our discussion. (I first heard the term “anchor chart” from the Two Sisters. It refers to a chart that records a process or strategy and is created WITH the students in their own words. It is then posted in the classroom for the students to use as a reference.)

Commenting Together

To be honest, although this chart is made up by and with my grade one students each year, it does not change a lot from school year to school year.  A good comment is still a good comment. Linda Yollis’ students have done some great work explaining how third graders comment, but for my pre and emerging writers, these steps seem to work best. Besides teaching them to comment, they reinforce other concepts my students are just learning.

  1. Say something nice. What specifically did you like about the post? What made you smile?
  2. Make a connection.  What did it remind you of? Does it make you think of something you know or have done?  Something you saw in a book or on a video?  Understanding and making connections is a skill five and six year olds are just beginning to learn.
  3. Ask a question. What do you wonder? What did the writer not include that you wish had been in the article? Understanding the difference between something you tell and something you ask is difficult for most six-year-olds.  Including a question helps them to learn what a question is and how to think about someone’s ideas beyond their own.
  4. Re-read your comment. This is a vital skill for commenters of any age.  As the students realized how often they needed to change something we had written to make it better, we added this step at the end of our chart.

We follow this pattern pretty closely together for months as they learn the literacy skills necessary to comment on their own. The first independent student comments are often written from home. This year, the first student to comment on the blogs of his peers decided to be “fair” and left a comment for every other child in the class!  I make a big deal about these comments, and as with every other comment we receive, we read them aloud together. After one or two students have written comments, the others start to want to do it as well!

Commenting Independently

It is usually near the end of our grade one year when I will actually officially ask all of the students to try making a comment on the blog of their choice.  At first, I ask them to show me the comment before they click “submit”, but when they have shown me that they can do this independently, I let them comment on any of the blogs that are linked from our classroom blog, knowing that if there was ever anything inappropriate (to my knowledge there never has been), the teachers we are linked with would contact me.  For students whose spelling skills are still developing, I stay close by and if necessary will write an editor’s note in brackets after their comment, in the same way I do with their blog postings.

Do they all follow the pattern that we have practiced together? No.  It is a long journey. Learning to comment when you are an emerging writer does take a long time, but learning to read and to write also takes a long time. To me the result—a student who is beginning to understand how to interact with others in a social media situation—is worth the long journey.

The Big Move–Why Am I Here?

We're Excited!

If you are reading this, you are at my shiny, new space. For almost four years, I have been blogging on a WordPress blog, also called Primary Preoccupation. (I’m partial to that name, so I brought it with me.) Thanks to some stress-filled evenings and lots of support from my new hosts, all of the content from my old blog is now here. (Why, oh why, didn’t I properly tag and categorize my posts when I first began blogging?)

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about trying to get more of my online “stuff” into one place. A couple of years ago I set up a Yolasite to begin collecting links.  That was a good step, but I wanted my writing to be in the same place as the rest of what I share. After much thought, and looking at what countless others have done, this is what I have come up with. I know it will change over time–that is a good thing, I think.

Suggestions to improve this space are more than welcome. I have some ideas, but I’m willing to bet that others have better ones. I’d love to hear them.

So here I am. New space. A clean slate. More room to grow. And still preoccupied with teaching primary students.

Students Posting Online: How Do You Do That?

I get that question a lot.  When people see my students’ blogs, the online artifacts they produce, their videos, and the digital footprint the children are beginning to create, the question I am most often asked is “how do you get permission from the parents to do that?”

The parents of our students have spent their whole lives protecting their children. Even before the child was born, they loved and sheltered that little being. They nurtured the child through the preschool years and then trustingly put the child into the school’s care. While this was happening, the media bombarded them with messages about how unsafe the internet is for children. When we broach the subject of posting their child’s work online, is it any wonder they have questions?  Frankly, I would be more concerned if they didn’t.

This is What We Do

Blogging is not an option for the six year olds in my classroom. It is what we do. My students’ blogs are their online learning portfolios. From the first week of school to the last, my students write (even before their writing is “readable”) and produce digital artifacts that showcase what they have been learning.  That portfolio is available any time of the day or night for parents to view or comment on. It is also available for grandma and grandpa in Calgary or for their older sibling who is away at university.  The fact that people who have never met my students read their blogs and sometimes leave comments is a bonus.

I am fortunate that my school division recognizes that posting online is valuable. On the first day of school, a form explaining possible online uses of student images/work is sent home for parents to sign. (Click on school services and then on Student Media/Privacy Form.)

In the second week of school, I always hold a parent information night.  On that night, along with talking about how to help their child learn to read, and pleading for them to not send birthday party invitations to school (it leads to tears from those not invited), I show our classroom blog to the parents.  I show them my blog, with the pictures and videos of students from last year. I show them a student blog from last year including the way that student’s learning was documented through writing, images and video. We look at the way that student’s writing ability improved through the year and listen to podcasts of the child’s reading fluency. I show them the way our blogs record the number of page reads and a sample of comments the students received. I usually show them our Clustr map, with dots from all over the world showing where people live who have visited our classroom virtually.

Keeping Them Safe

Most important of all, I talk about how I safeguard their child. There are two policies that I have that are the keystones of the way I protect my students online.

  1. I post images of students, and I post the first names of students but I never match the two. I know of many teachers who do identify their students, but that is not my personal policy.
  2. Nothing gets posted unless I see it first. No student articles. No comments. Nothing.

The first class that I blogged with are now in grade eight. In all that time, I have never had a parent who, after seeing what we do on our blogs, has refused to have their child participate. The first year that I posted pictures of the children on my blog, I had one parent who asked for her child’s picture to not be posted online. By Christmas she had changed her mind.

If a parent DID have concerns, I would offer options.

  1. Not including that child in any pictures that would be posted online.
  2. Having their child blog under an alias.

Making it Happen

I realize that many teachers do not yet have a blog to show parents. In that case, I have encouraged teachers to show the parents a blog they would like to emulate. There are lots of great blogs, and this is a case in which a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Parents want to know that we are not putting their child at risk. Their questions come from their overwhelming desire to ensure their child’s safety.  I want my students to have an audience and to make connections with people they would otherwise never connect with. I think we can do both.

Five Tips to Get Your Classroom Blog Started

I’ve had a classroom blog for about six years. Over that time, that blog has evolved in ways that I could not have predicted when I began.  When I started, there were no other primary teachers that I could find who were blogging.  After a few months, I discovered a kindergarten teacher in New Zealand who had a blog (she now teaches older students)  and then gradually I found others.  My initial thoughts were that I would do a quick daily write-up about what we were learning for the parents of my students to read.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that that was pretty boring, so I began adding images, then slideshows, and then video.  My students’ blogs have evolved, too, from a weekly writing activity, to portfolios that reflect their learning in many subject areas.

I am frequently contacted by teachers who are interested in starting a blog and who would like some tips for getting started.  I  decided that the discipline of writing my thoughts about it in this space would help me to give them better answers. Here, then, are my top five tips for starting a classroom blog.

1.  Read a lot of blogs to see what others are doing.  If you are a primary teacher, check out primary blogs, but don’t forget to also look at blogs from classrooms of older students as well.  Seeing what others are doing will give you ideas about what is possible.

2.  Think about what you want your blog to be before you start blogging. Do you want your blog to be a showcase of what is happening in your classroom?  Of your students learning?  Do you want your students to have their own blog, or to share yours?  Do you want to pose questions for your students to answer? What about a combination of all these things? Like my blog, your blog will probably evolve over time, but it’s always good to have put in some thought ahead of time.

3. If your students blog, don’t edit the student’s work TOO much. It is wonderful if your students’ blogs can be a reflection of their learning through the entire school year.  If you do too much editing, their growth won’t be evident.

4. Comments are the lifeblood of a blog. If you are posting on a blog and no one gives you feedback, you might as well be writing in your notebooks.  Encourage comments from parents, grandparents, friends, other classes in the school etc.  Ask other people you know to comment.  If you use Twitter, use the hashtag #commentsforkids to encourage others to comment on your students’ blogs.

5.  Persevere. It takes time to build up readership.  Keep blogging even when it seems no one is reading it.  Put a Clustr map or a Revolver Map or some other form of tracking system on your blog.  Then, as you have visitors from other places, you and your class will be able to visually see this.  Very few people who read blogs actually comment on them, but knowing someone has actually SEEN your blog can be almost as encouraging as a comment.

Six years later… there are now lots of teachers who have classroom blogs, including lots of primary teachers.  That means lots of teachers who can give good advice.  I hope some of those teachers will see this and chime in. Blogging is one of the best things I do in my classroom.

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