01 February 2012

Day One: Blogger


Our first Web 2.0 Tool is Blogger.  This blog was created on blogger so it is only appropriate that we explain how it was created.  Let's watch a video that explains what a blog is before we get into creating one:

How to Start a Blog
Starting a blog is actually surprisingly simple.  If you can type a document, you can blog.  Start by going to www.blogger.com and signing in.  Now, since Blogger is a Google program, your Middletownk12.org account will give you access.  But, if you prefer, you can always register for a personal Gmail account first.  Once you login, it is simply a matter of picking the right title, web address and layout for your blog.  Now let's talk about why and how this can help you in your teaching.

Why Should You Blog?
Reflection--One of the most important reasons to start blogging is for reflection. There are so many things happening in your life that sometimes you need to stop for a second and reflect on what just happened to you.  It may be something a student said in your classroom, it may be a significant interaction with a colleague or it may just be an odd bumper sticker you saw on your drive into work.  Whatever it is, stop and write down your thoughts on it.  Plus you will have it forever, stored in a convenient location to look back on at a later date.
To Connect with People Like You--Blogs are a great way to find people who have similar interests and view points as yourself.  Science teachers can find other science blogs, nature lovers can find nature blogs and foodies can find food blogs.  Websites are the way to find general information on a topic, but blogs allow you to become involved in the experiences of others.
To Have Fun and Be Creative--One of the most important keys to successful blogging is having a passion about your blog's topic, so you can write prolifically about it. Some of the best and most interesting blogs started out as blogs that were written just for fun and to give the blogger a creative outlet.  One of the best parts of blogging is taking an idea and letting it get silly.

How You Can Use Blogging in Your Classroom
Student Blogs--First, every English teacher will tell you that the more you write, the better your writing will become.  The simple act of having students put their thoughts "on paper" will help them when they sit to write that big essay later.  Second, teenagers these days realize their impact goes far beyond their small circle of friends and family as they are developing relationships that stretch worldwide through all types of social media. What better way to get a global perspective on your ideas than to put them in a place where people from all walks of life can view them and respond?  Finally, there is a strong movement to reduce the amount of paper being used in schools, both to help the environment and to reduce school budgets.  When a student completes his/her assignment online, no paper is being copied and no stacks of grading are being carted home by the teacher.  Blogs also give students the opportunity to make their assignments more dynamic.  In science class, when asked to document their observations for a chemical experiment, they can both write down what they see and insert pictures of the reaction right into the data table.

Classroom Blogs--classroom blogs can function just like a normal class website (post handouts, create assignments, update a homework calendar) except they also allow for students to participate in an online discussion.  The teacher can post an article/current event/video for the class to view and rather than using class time to discuss, the teacher can have an ongoing discussion through the comments section of the post.  Here are a pair of Middletown teachers using blogs with their math classes:
Mrs. Ivers' Classroom
Mr. Kerrigan's Classroom

Blogs That Make You Go Hmmmm
Below are links to blogs from educators who are leading the digital reform in schools and represent an unbiased, student-centered approach to education.
Connected Principals--blog for leadership ideas and views on administration
A Principal's Reflection--comments about education from a principal in Northern NJ, coordinator of Edscape2012
Stump the Teacher--middle school language arts/social studies teacher & 2012 IL Teacher of the Year
The Nerdy Teacher--MI based English teacher and educational technology coordinator
The Principal of Change--general comments about education and leadership from administrator in Canada
Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom--edtech leader with great links for additional Web Tools
Lyn Hilt: The Principal's Posts--elementary school principal with great views on education
Practical Theory--HS principal, educational speaker, coordinator of EduConPhilly
Cybraryman's blog list--an amazing list of blogs which can sorted by subject area

So, how will you use blogs as learning tools both for yourself and your students?

51 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the links! I enjoyed reading about some other reasons for using a blog.

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    1. I'm wondering how we can incorporate blogging into our Algebra classes. Any suggestions?

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    2. Maybe a math equation to solve each day for extra credit?

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    3. I know some teachers use it as their DO NOWs. They make all the posts for the week over the weekend and schedule them to appear right before the start of school. Then when they just turn on the projector and their work is done.

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    4. I would be happy to show you how to use it for the EOC Mrs. Weinstock!

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    5. Here is another example of blogs in the math classroom. As more come in I will make sure to share. http://mathhombre.blogspot.com.au/

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    6. I always wanted to blog and bring it into the classroom. I really like the suggestion of blogging before class, then showing on the projector. I can easily set this up on Edmodo too! Thanks for the tip.

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  2. I have seen a great improvement in my students' writing skills as a result of blogging.

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  3. I know some of my students blog or follow blogs about personal interests on their own time. For those of you who use a blog for a subject area, do you use it as a class assignment? It is part of a student's grade or just a tool for discussion?

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  4. I have just recently created a blog using blogger for my language arts class. I have used it to post homework assignments, research articles, or videos that build background knowledge. We are in the process of writing a persuasive research paper so it has been a great tool to post materials that show different points of view and ask for student feedback and reactions. The only problems I have encountered is student complaints that they have trouble logging on with internet explorer. It seems to run better when you open blogger with google crome.

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    1. When using Chrome, don't forget the BlogThis! button:

      https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pengoopmcjnbflcjbmoeodbmoflcgjlk

      which makes it easy to post a URL to the blog.

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  5. http://blog.web20classroom.org/

    I found this suggested blog very helpful :) Staying connected and going green are both very good reasons to get students blogging or communicating via internet one way or another.

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  6. Thank you for all the great information. I am in the process of starting a blog and reading other educational blogs was very helpful.

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  7. I am going to try using the blog in the Civic Leadership program. Instead of turning in article reviews on Fridays I am going to have them blog.

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  8. Blogging would be challenging for my special needs students but possibly for information for my parents. Thanks

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  9. Marissa Smith-Thorne Middle SchoolFebruary 1, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I like the idea for blogging for parents. Would love some ideas on how to use it in a math classroom

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  10. I’ve maintained a classroom blog for the past two years and find it to be a great learning and sharing tool in seventh grade language arts. I will post sites for the students to view along with a thought provoking question to which students respond. My site parameters are set so that I moderate comments before they are posted. I like how the blog expands the learning community when you open it up to more than one class. Sometimes we simply analyze the posts to determine what writing techniques seem to work best. My next plan before beginning our novel, Out of the Dust, is to have students view Dustbowl photos online and create short written pieces of imagery to share on the blog. Wish us luck!

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  11. Some good links! I agree that blogging for parents is great. Students are very tech savvy and they love to do pretty much anything that involves it.

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  12. R. Raymond - ThompsonFebruary 1, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I once created a book blog for the library, but was then districted by other projects. I am going to revive it - or possibly adjust it to use with my classes.

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    1. R. Raymond - ThompsonFebruary 1, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      oops - distracted

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    2. Rachel- Creating a "book blog" is a great idea! Students can share with others what they are reading during lit circles, book clubs or just "hyping" a current bestseller.

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    3. Hi Rachel,
      Good idea. One question...were you able to vet the kids' responses before they posted,in order to avoid anything inappropriate from showing up?
      Thanks,Ceil

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  13. I put the link for my new blog onto my homepage. My students/parents all got a letter directly them to take a look at my google webpage. When they get there they will see the link for my blog. Anyone who takes it up on themselves to check out my blog will see that I posted "extra credit for the first students to comment on my blog page". Have to see what happens tonight.

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    1. I had one very conscientious student go to the blog site last night...she earned EC. Now waiting to see if it catches on in my other classes.

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  14. Blogging sounds like a great concept! Does anyone have a link on how to use a blog in a middle school math classroom?

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    1. Scott-

      I use to have a piece of bulletin board paper in my math classroom that we used for blogging-they really loved writing about math and answering each other's questions (this is pre laptop cart).

      Here are some other links:


      http://futureofmath.misterteacher.com/blogs2.html

      http://www.slideshare.net/mmkrill/blogging-in-math
      High School Level but could be adapted for Middle School

      http://www.ams.org/notices/201003/rtx100300333p.pdf
      Article about blogging in math

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  15. After creating a blog account through my masters work, I did not use it. Thanks for all the great ideas on how to utilize in the classroom.

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  16. Mike Gannon - BayshoreFebruary 1, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I use a class blog as an extension and investigation tool for class lessons. Students can respond to other classmates and conduct an online, academic blog discussion. This is a great way to get discussions moving in and out of the classroom and a relevant homework assessment.

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    1. Kathleen Knight-BayshoreFebruary 2, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      Mike, I agree. I have a blog for my 6th and 7th grade History classes. For every unit I post questions that will reinforce the concepts we have learned in class. The questions generally make the students reflect on a historical event or decide whether or not they would have made the same decisions as the leaders of the past. Because it is a website, the students can access it at home (homework) or at a school (classwork).

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  17. Great information. I am working on customizing a blog now!

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  18. For those of you who create a blog through this challenge, please remember to share it with everyone. We would love to see the great things you are creating for/with your students.

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  19. My honors students actually set up a Facebook page that is used for study sessions that I can monitor and contribute to. I would actually like to start blogging for this for all of my classes. Currently I have my website set up to be announcement pages so I am 'assuming' that this will be somewhat similar to blogging? Is there a way to blend the two together or would that be over done?

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    1. Websites are great for just posting information. However, blogs are better for discussions. As you can see here, a simple post with pictures or videos can be commented on by the students to extend the learning outside of the classroom. As a Biology teacher, you could even take pictures of things related to class with your phone and post them to your blog. Great real world connections.

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    2. Remember you have a blogger account through your google apps account, in gdocs go to "more", then "even more" and it is listed with the other apps.

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  20. Also high school 9th grade teachers; last year your Bayshore students blogged as people from the civil rights era, they all can navigate blogger. http://tinyurl.com/8747495

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  21. I've been using my classroom blog www.mrmason.info as a resource for sharing links, important 8th grade information, and also as a source for students to get notes and sheets that they may have lost during the year. By integrating the blog with google docs, the time it takes to initially set everything up is justified by the fact that I never need to print out anything for any student who "never got that".

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  22. I am planning an ongoing blog activity with my 8th grade, language arts class. My students will create a blot for our CORE novel. A couple of times each week, students will blog as the main character. In addition students will visit other students' blogs to answer questions posted by their peers.

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  23. I am planning on using blogger fourth quarter with a Freshman class from a Catholic High School in PA. The teacher, Mr. Roche and I have been planning this since last summer and we are totally excited about the collaboration between the two schools.

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  24. I haven't used blogging very much so I appreciate the tips and reminders.

    I DO want to add this tool to my regular classroom practice. It is a great tool for brainstorming, just sharing ideas, giving feedback, etc.

    I know that I'll want to set things up so that students will have to log-in (just to give them, as minors, a little privacy protection from web creeps).

    My other favorite tip of the day was something I found on "Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom--edtech leader with great links for additional Web Tools." I had heard of things like LiveBinder, but this seems like a really neat way of sharing information and teaching kids a way to share information without violating copyright!

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  25. I am going to have a blog with current news or events in the world to let students factor in their opinions. There will be a corresponding display board in the library with visuals and captions to tweak their interest. Our current subject is SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act). It will be interesting to see what the kids think about it.

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  26. For my senior English class, we have a discussion-based blog. I usually post links to articles or reading assignments that are outside of the textbook - they go on, read the article, and then leave a comment. I've been debating whether to add students as contributors so they can make their own posts about discussion topics I've assigned to them specifically instead of just leaving comments. Anyone have thoughts on if this works out?

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  27. OK, Here's my trial run with a classroom blog.
    I've added a blog page to a web site that I set up earlier this year.
    Here is the address: http://rymvega.weebly.com/your-comments.html

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  28. Thank you, Lauren, for helping me to finalize my blog!

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  29. I think that blogging is a great tool that can be both fun and useful for students. In math class, students can post questions if they are having trouble with the homework, and other students can respond to help them. Also, we can use blogs to post math games and sites that are related to topics that we are covering in math. Students can comment on what they liked/did not like about the sites, as well as what they found useful. Maybe their comments might encourage other students to view the sites!

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  30. Great information that will definitely enhance instruction in the classroom. I'll keep experimenting with it until I feel comfortable.

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  31. Ok, how do you get to showcase a website on here, and how do you do it. I tried to create a blog but wasn't sure if that is how everyone is doing it. In other words how do you get to be one of the contributors?

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    1. Rose, the contributors are on the tech teams from Bayshore and South. If you want, we can showcase your work on the next Weekend Update post. Just send an email to Marc Seigel (seigelm@middletownk12.org) and he'll take care of it.

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  32. I have been using the blog(nbrodeur.blogspot.com) for the past 2 weeks and I love it! My students have enjoyed being able to comment on reflection questions as well as gather information for their classwork and assignments. It is a great tool to use. I love that I am able to upload all of my assignments and remove the paper element. I look forward to continuing to use it in the future.

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  33. So many great ideas! Thanks to everyone for posting various uses of blogs in his/her classroom. I would love to try to incorporate this into my 7th grade math classes.

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