I have just barely begun my adventure in student blogging. My students have created their blogs, customized them, joined the class, and created their first post.
For the first post I assigned a simple set of questions called “Where I Stand,” questions that ask students to examine their own likes/dislikes, beliefs, and positions.
I wanted to choose a relatively simple format for the first post because my main goal here is just to make sure that each student actually figures out how to make the post.
I read through several student blogs last night, and I found that my questions became clearer. Here’s a list that I have begun:
How much should I assign topics and how much should I allow them to choose? I’ve always been a proponent of student choice in writing, but I also know that when they are learning a new tool, the actual writing may have to take a back seat until students have a grasp of how to navigate the technology.
How will I develop this gradual release from teacher assigned topics to more freedom?
What are the best themes/colors to choose on a blog? I have already found that certain themes are difficult to read or appear less professional than I would like.
How can I teach my students to create a professional image on their blogs? Many students know how to use the internet for social and entertainment purposes, but I want them to think about crafting a more adult tone on their blogs.
What should I do about commenting? What is important to teach about commenting? Should I assign particular classmates to each student? Should I let them choose a certain number of classmates?
How can I teach and model internet civility for my students? This is my biggest question, I think, probably because this is one of the most significant issues facing internet communication in our society.
If any of you have ventured into the world of student blogging, I would love to hear your perspective on any of these questions! Or, what are your questions about student blogging?
I know that, as a student, I would have more enthusiasm for the project the fewer requirements you gave. Also, if you want their blogs to have a more adult tone, you could give out awards to the students who get five comments on their blogs from adults. I think it’s important to give the students a goal you want them to reach but not micromanage the steps they take to get there. They have to learn on their own and use more creativity that way.
Thank you so much for your thoughts, Sharon. I agree with you that I need to trust them more and give them more freedom. I think I will have the talk about audience with them. I am going to send out an email to the parents, letting them know about the student blogs. Asking students to get comments from adults is a good suggestion! Thank you for really helping me get back to the idea of giving my students the freedom to explore and make their own decisions.