New School Year? Why Not Start a School Blog?

I always loved the excitement that comes with this time of year. Getting ready for a new school year always presented new possibilities and projects. In the past few years, I really enjoyed setting up a new year of blogs – one for staff and one for the school community.

What I have found over the past few years is that as a school leader, one must do a very good job at telling the school’s story using every form of social media that works.

In my last school, I found that blogging weekly to the school community worked very well. I started using a school blog when I started at St. Anthony School. Communication here was a big challenge, especially in a community where English was not the first language at home for many families.

I chose to blog because it was the only format that could be translated into different languages using the handy translation tool. I also felt that the days of the paper newsletter were over and that the community had to move to a more flexible form of communication.

I love to blog and I had used a staff blog as a way of communicating with staff members for several years. The school blog was an attempt to introduce the great communication tool to parents and the wider community.

One of the wonderful surprises that occurred with the new school blog was the amazing staff participation in the creation of the weekly blog.

an excerpt from the kindergarten entry from one of our school blogs

Generally, almost all teachers contributed something for the upcoming school blog post. As time went on, many added photos from activities that had taken place during the week before.

This was terrific for the parents and I think really encouraged wide readership of the school blog. From a principal’s perspective, this was wonderful as I received a weekly rundown of what each teacher was planning for their students.

The blog was certainly an act of love, and it did take most of my Sunday to put it together. I really believe that it was well worth the time, especially when students asked me to make sure that photos from their class be included in the blog!

I used Edublogs both for the school and staff blogs. For around $8.00 a month, I subscribed to their ‘pro’ service which allowed me to access their excellent help desk. This was money really well spent as my questions on some of the technical fine points of blogging were always answered within hours of my initial query.

So, if you are looking for a good project for the upcoming school year, why not take up blogging for your school or for your classroom. The work you put into it is really worth the effort. You will be opening up your world to the parents you serve.

Good luck, any questions? Please let me know, very happy to help!

Next post – how to put together a staff blog.

Advertisements

#ecoo13 Blogging in the classroom

word press

Various technologies can be used to make thinking visible. We began exploring blogging within this context, but soon it became apparent that there were more reasons to encourage student blogging than just visible thinking. Blogging allows students to create, rather than just consume. It affords them the opportunity to collaborate and create a community, among other advantages.

This session will look at the power of blogging, demonstrate how blogging can be used across various grades, levels and subjects, and discuss the practical issues of student blogging.

Questions we will discuss include: How can you get students to buy-in? How can you get students to blog regularly over the course of a semester? How can you evaluate student blogs? How can you avoid pitfalls?

Blogs in Plain English

a way of getting thinking out there so we could talk about it

allows students to choose what they are going to write about, also will give them a real audience for the first time.  Gives students a community that can continue outside of school.

Types to use – Blogger, edublogs, wordpress – all vary in level of difficulty

blogger

single or multi-blogs – which to use?

One blog – easy for the teacher to see all comments at one time.  Or, you can give a Blogger account to each student so they can customize the blog.

Challenges:

  • having students take it seriously – at first, kids may not take this seriously have to be taught this as well.  Needs to be addressed
  • developing rich posts and comments – you need to write so that people can respond –  students need to be taught how to do this.
  • lack of ownership (multi-author blog) – second year, each student set up their own blog and they needed to comment on what was going on in class.  Objective – to get the students to communicate.  When they get to write about something they are interested in the quality of the posts get better.
  • rigidity (seen as solely a classroom activity) – if set up as a classroom activity students will not blog on their own
  • lack of feedback – kids were not getting real feedback from others in school or out of school #comments4kids on twitter can encourage people to respond
  • instructions for setting up – students need to have explicit instructions on how to set the blog
  • label/tag – students need to get used to making multiple tags including their name so that you can find the writer
  • marking – blog post rubrics available – important to have this.

 

edublog

interesting point – you can’t force blogging, it comes and it goes, so how can we do this for the students? Lisa’s blog

where to next – the teachers will continue with it!  The teachers have blogged their experiences on their own blogs.

Here is their site for further information – http://goo.gl/GTtfTB

great workshop on the challenges of blogging in the classroom
great workshop on the challenges of blogging in the classroom

HandouT on how to write good blog comments