This is Part VI in the series “Stepping it Up: Learning About Blogs FOR your Students”
- Part I: Reading
- Part II A: Writing
- Part II B: Student Writing
- Part III: Commenting
- Part IV: Connecting
- Part V: Reciprocating
I have seen many teachers start blogs (professional and classroom ones), only to abandon them after a short while. The reasons are many:
- it takes too much time
- writer’s block
- no one reads it anyway
- students are complaining of having to write so much
- can’t see the benefits for student learning
By now, we should understand that blogging is not about technology, but about literacies (old & new) and LEARNING. Following the guidelines described in the previous parts of this series, blogging can bring the benefits highlighted therein WITH the understanding that reeking these benefits will take time.
The word “blogging” is in progressive form (the “-ing” form). The progressive form of a verb is the form that is used to indicate that an action is continuing/ on-going.
Blogging is a process, not an event that happens as a culminating activity of a lesson or unit.
The realization and acceptance of blogging as a platform for learning AND as a process, brings in the component of CONSISTENCY.
- Consistency is the key most bloggers list as the reason for successful blogs
- Consistency applies to reading, writing, commenting and connecting!
Consistency constitutes an important building block:
- to establish trust
- to build a relationship with your readers
- to build a loyal readership (you want your visitors to make it a habit of reading your work)
- to experience the cognitive process of learning over a period of time
- to plan, develop, build and maintain a classroom learning community
Teachers often ask me how I have connected with so many classes around the world. The answer is through consistent quality commenting
So, in order to give yourself the best possible chance in making your blog (professional or classroom blogs) a success, prepare yourself and your students to be CONSISTENT!
- Don’t let your blog be an add-on
The easiest way to have your blog become neglected is to treat it as something in addition to “all the other things you already do”. Find ways to replace traditional tasks.
- Use your blog as a tool to “do the things you do”
Your blog can be your communication and planning tool. It is also a tool to teach and support your curriculum : reading, writing and 21st century literacies (media, network, global, information).
- Let your blog be your hub
Plan, document, reflect and showcase your (or students’) work on your blog. Make it your space and the center of all your work. Link all your other online spaces to your blogs (wikis, social bookmarks, twitter, etc.)
- Build in regular times to read blogs
It is a conscious decision and effort to continue your own professional learning. Blogging starts with reading. Reading will give you ideas and topics to write about. Make reading blogs easy and convenient, by adding their feeds to an RSS reader and/or to your mobile devices via apps (ex. Flipboard, Zite, etc.) Read whenever you get a chance during the day and for a set amount of time before you go to bed at night. Read as well when your students have free reading time at school. (D.E.A.R. time)
- Build in regular times to write posts
Do you have a D.E.W (Drop Everything and Write) time in your classroom?
DEW time is essentially a daily “free write” time. This has been THE single MOST effective strategy we have used to build fluency in writing”.
Write right alongside your students. Modeling is one of the best teachers.
- Build in regular times to comment
Comment on your students’ blogs to build conversation. Comment on other blogs from around the world and about a variety of topics in order to build traffic and connections. Comment as a class to model and coach your students. Make this a time for mini-lessons in writing, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, etc.
- Be consistent in making connections
(content and relationship wise) with and for your students. Don’t give up if a connection or blogging collaboration project does not work out. With time, you will build trusting and reliable relationships. Don’t be discouraged if comments don’t come flooding in. Keep it up…with time they will come.
Don’t give up blogging after a few weeks! Hang in there. Remember it is a process and takes time.
- Reflect often
- What works for you and your students?
- What does not work?
- What needs to be tweaked, thrown out, revised?
- Connect with other educators who are blogging.
- Read, read, read other professional, classroom and student blogs
How have you been successful in consistently reading, writing, commenting and connecting on and via your blog? What successful tips can you share with teachers just beginning the process?
If you are a newbie, how do you envision making a “commitment to consistency” work in your case?