What is a Blog?
You are on a blog right now. A blog is a web log, a place on the internet where an author can write their thoughts, share their ideas, comment and critique on things in their lives and the ideas of others. The format and subject of a person's blog is completely up to them. Most often they are made up of a series of similarly formatted entries, called posts, released regularly.
How Do You Set Up a Blog?
There are many free programs that people can use to set up their blog. Many educators chose to use edublogs but the site I used to create this blog is Blogger , which is part of Google's wide collection of apps.
I found using Blogger to be quick and easy. Just create a Google account (or a Gmail account you already have) and then starting a blog is really as easy as thinking of a name and an address and clicking a button.
After your blog is created it's really up to you what you make of it. By clicking new post, users will find a familiar word processor type screen. They can type normally, alter text, size, color, font, etc. Blogger even makes it easy to post pictures, embed video, and link in other sites.
You can follow other people's blogs as well to make it easier to see new content, along with commenting on their posts to let them know how much you liked their idea, disagreed with them or have your questions answered.
I have found Blogger to be easy to use and helpful for creating anything I want. There is only one problem I have had in making my blog....finding the time to actually post.
How Can I Use it in My Classroom?
Both teacher-made and student-made blogs could be useful in the classroom.
Teachers can search for blogs made by other educators or professional organizations to get useful information to improve their teaching, exciting lesson ideas, and models for your own blogs and websites. Teachers can make their own blogs as ways of sharing information with other teachers.
A classroom blog would be a quick way of sharing recent events with parents or the public as a kind of class website. Here pictures of student projects, videos of special guest speakers, and class news can be posted and seen by those interested in what's happening in your room. Teachers could also post feedback questions for parents to respond to in the comments, such as asking for volunteers for a classroom activity or for ideas for outside resources for field trips. Teachers can also post questions for students to respond too, such as "What was your favorite character from the book and why?"
Student blogs have the ability to be a very versatile notebook. In posts they can write responses to books they had read, and their fellow students can comment on them to share similar connections and expand their won thinking about the books. Posts could also serve as places for them present video projects they made. They can also use blogs to post their own thoughts and questions tat weren't assigned. All of these uses wouldn't be worth much without the teacher being able to monitor their work, but with the ability to follow all of the students, teachers could easily check on progress, turned in assignments, etc. without having to add a stack of papers to their desks, and would be able to comment and suggest things without having to break out the red pen.
Anything Negative About Blogs I Should Be Aware of?
Well like all things online, there is a chance of that students may be contacted by bloggers from outside of the class or school community and there is the constant danger that they may run across inappropriate content. To keep your class safe make sure that you make your expectations of proper internet use clear and that you go over computer safety strategies to keep them safe, such as don't talk to people you don't know, don't click on links you don't recognize and don't share personal information about themselves. With a lot of prevention talks and proper monitoring on the teacher's part, students should be fine using and benefiting from blogs in the classroom.
So in Conclusion...
I like blogs and think that they can be a useful way to find information along with showing others what you have learned and think about. By commenting on others, students can show their peers that the posts they had written had meant something to them, and weren't just typed and never seen. I like blogs, and I hope to use them in the future with my future classes (and hopefully I will be more regular in my posting...).