How to Begin Blogging in the Classroom

So you want to teach your students how to blog by letting them create their own but you don't know where to begin?  Use the steps below to help.  Feel free to contact me with specific questions.

Before the Unit:
  1. Decide what blogging platform students will use.  I had planned to let my students use whichever they wanted and then bring their individual feeds in on a RSS feed to moderate.  However, I was given the opportunity to pilot Hapara Teacher Dashboard that very same semester and made the decision to require that my students use Blogger through our district's GAFE account.
  2. Create a "Blogging Usage Agreement" for your students and their parents to sign.  You can see a copy of mine here but you will need to approve it with your own EdTech to use.
Before the Students Are Given Access to Their Blogging Accounts:
  1. Give students some time to think about the topic they'll be blogging about.  Allow them to do some internet research on what they might post about and what they might put on their informational/static pages (I require 4 additional pages in addition to the post page).
  2. Introduce students to Google Reader and show them how to pull feeds into it by searching within Google Reader or bringing it in by URL.  I then ask my students to pull in at least 5 websites plus CopyBlogger to a RSS feed reader (we like Pulse) on their devices.
  3. Introduce students to Evernote.  Show them the ability to separate their notes into folders (just like a binder!).  Show them how to access their Evernote email.
  4. Require students be able to know how to find a good article on their blog topic, email the article to their Evernote account to automatically drop in a folder they've designated for their topic.   (See how to do this here.)
  5. Have students research: "How to create a good blog" and discuss their findings.
  6. Share this simple worksheet that will help them plan their blogs and require that students spend some time to plan it out, thoughtfully.
  7. Have students research: "What makes good blog content" and discuss their findings.
  8. Have a dry-run post/blog day.  Ask students to pull interesting articles to Evernote and handwrite a sample blog post for the week.  Are they happy with the content?  Do they think the topic they chose will sustain them throughout the grading period?  You can use this worksheet for students to take notes and plan each post.  Printed back to front, you'll only need to print them out every four posts.

Help students see how the tools they'll be using contribute to create their end product.  I use this to show my students that this is what they'll most likely begin using to do any sort of future research.