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Learning About Blogs FOR your Students- Part IV: Connecting

This is Part IV in the series “Stepping it Up: Learning About Blogs FOR your Students

As a teacher,

  • you have started reading blogs in order to get ideas, inspiration and format from other writers and educators…
  • you have content that sparks your own interest and that you are able to connect to in your own writing…
  • you are going through the “process of writing” for yourself, in order to coach your students in becoming better writers…
  • you have started leading your students in writing on their own blogs…
  • you are modeling conversations, critical thinking and connections by commenting on your students’ blog.

Now…

you are realizing that your students are NOT necessarily jumping up and down for you, eager to get to work in order to consistently produce high quality writing. Motivation to get on the blog, blinging it up and producing content might have happened for a brief period right after you started blogging.

The newness wore off fast for these digital natives and now it is (most likely with only a few exceptions among your students) nothing more than school work on a digital platform instead of school work with paper and pencil.

An integral component to keep it exciting and fresh for your students (and yourself too) is to:

Make a conscious effort to CONNECT your students to an audience beyond the teacher.

An authentic global audience for our classroom or individual student blogs does not happen on its own. I have been thinking, researching and experimenting  how to connect classrooms to a global audience for a while now.

In my opinion, it comes down to YOU, as the teacher, to make a commitment to:

  • be the connector for your students (especially younger ones) or
  • teach them how to reach out on their own.

How does a teacher drive traffic to his/her students’ blogs in order to connect them to an audience?

  • Blogging Buddies
    Connect with blogging buddies (formerly known as pen-pals).
    Find another committed classroom teacher who is blogging. They can be from your own building, district, state, or from another country.
    (Leave your contact info and blog details on this Google Doc started by Kim Cofino, if you are looking for blogging buddies for your students)
  • Quad-Blogging
    Become part of a Quad-Blog. Make a connection via the site or organize yourself with three other classroom teachers from your own network.
  • Blogging Projects
    Join pre-existing blogging projects (Student Blogging Challenge)
  • Twitter
    Tweet about exemplary student posts to your network.
    Use hashtag #comment4kids (more info about comments4kids)
  • Cross-Posting, Linking and Commenting
    Cross-post student posts and link them on your professional blogs. Leave relevant comments on other blogs with links back to your classroom and/or student blogs.
  • Experts
    Invite “content experts” of a unit your are studying or specific area of student interest to write a guest blog post or become a guest commenter
  • Mentors
    Ask a university professor to connect your classroom or student blogs to a group of pre-service teachers. This can be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
  • Parents
    Educate and ask parents to take the time to read and comment on the classroom or their student’s blog
    (Idea: Have students create a “How-to-Video” walking their parents through the steps of leaving a comment and give advice on quality comments)

How do YOU connect your students to a larger audience than one? What has worked for you?  Please share.

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Another great post in this series Silvia!

    I have found the most motivating of all the connections has been having parents and other family members commenting on class and student blogs – though you are right they do need to be educated how to do this. Last year we had to edit a comment from a grandparent who had included some personal information such as the last name of the student.

    I’ve also found quad blogging to be really effective as students love to get comments from other students and in turn like to visit these classroom blogs and comment on what they find there too.

    Almost all the classes at school have blogs now, and the teachers, students and parents are very enthusiastic about sharing the learning that is going on.

  2. @ Silvia,

    What another great post about blogging. All your advice is excellent and a must-read for teachers who aren’t yet blogging.

    Time and time again, teachers have said to me

    “I set up a blog but the kids are just not interested.”

    Of course they’re not. Creating ongoing interest and motivation is something that takes work. For me, having a wide range of connections and blogging buddies has really made our blog come alive and kept it going day after day, year after year.

    Authentic audiences, ongoing conversations and diverse learning makes the blog a really interesting place to be a part of.

    We have a wonderful group of blogging buddies we collaborate with all the time and the teachers, such as Linda Yollis, Jonah Salsich, Shawn Avery and Judy McKenzie, are extremely committed and like-minded. This is what makes our relationships work.

    Another thing that really encourages students to be active bloggers is recognition. We make sure we reply to (nearly) all comments on our class and student blogs. We also spend time each day reading comments and posts that students have published on our blogs. Knowing that they can read out their work and receive a response encourages my grade two students to keep going. After all, if you never checked or looked at your students written work, would they be motivated to do it?

    As for parents, participation definitely isn’t something you can leave to chance. I have written a post with ideas that I have used to educate parents and keep them interested here

    I was just going to write a quick comment but this is a topic I could go on and on about!

    Thanks again,
    Kathleen

  3. Learning About Blogs FOR your Students- Part IV: Connecting http://t.co/rv8aWmP5

  4. [...] Part IV: Connecting (17/12/2011) [...]

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