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.