Student blogging has always intrigued me.Â It seemed like a wonderful way to engage students, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I would incorporate it into a class.Â I don’t have a 1:1 environment, which makes access an issue and the thought of setting it all up had always given me pause.Â A few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge with my 8th grade science class.
As part of our alternative energy project, the students had to complete a variety of tasks (labs, lessons, videos, research projects), which they’ve posted on a wiki (energymonkey.pbworks.com).Â To document things in a less formal environment, I decided to have the students document the behind the scenes work on a blog.Â On the first day of the project, I had one of my students set up all the student accounts on the blog.Â After that, 1 or 2 students per day wouldÂ write a post on the project blog discussing what everyone was doing that day or reflecting on something that they did the day before.
I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it turned out pretty well.Â The students seemed to be fairly motivated by the task and did a good job on their posts.Â I did little to no editing of the posts (which they saved as drafts and I published later) to keep it as authentic as possible.Â There weren’t any problems that came up and the students gave it a favorable rating.
Hints for student blogging:
1. Give students “writer” status on the blog.Â This will allow them to write and edit (their own) posts, without giving them too much access to other parts of the blog.
2. Have them save their posts as drafts.Â This will allow you to look them over before they get published to catch anything you might not want online.Â Should something slip by, it’s easy to delete the post (and the user).Â If you’re really paranoid about it, just make the students subscribers.Â Subscribers can’t write posts, but have the ability to comment.Â The editor of the blog must approve all comments before they are published which negates any potentially nefarious posts.
3.Â Give the students some freedom.Â As long as the students stayed on topic, I didn’t get too worried about what they wrote.Â If they had trouble getting started, I told them to check out another student’s post.