What is a blog?
Blogs have grown in popularity over the past few years. Blogs, also known as weblogs are sites where individuals post ideas, articles, or resources on a given topic (Fitzgibbon, 2010; Richardson, 2006; Witt, 2009). Blogs are started by a blogger, the person who writes and manages the blog. While blogs are usually reflective in nature, they also offer the option of sharing links or other resources on a topic. Nowadays, blogs are accessible and fairly simple to start and manage. There are several places to host a blog which include templates and gadgets that can easily be embedded. Some popular platforms include KidBlog, EduBlogs, Blogger, Word Press, and Posterous.
Types of Blogs
There are several uses for blogs in the gifted classroom. Blogs can be used as a reflective learning tool. Here are some examples of blogs that students can post:
Academic Blogs- Students can reflect on topics or strategies that were learned in class. With these types of academic blogs, students can discuss their reactions to a literary text or character, solutions to problems in the environment, or even alternate approaches or solutions to equations in mathematics.
Reflective Blogs- Students can treat their blogs as an online journal. With this approach, students can choose their own topic to blog about, such as their favorite day of the week, or write about a preselected topic. Teachers may also allow gifted students to write their stance on controversial issues or current events that deal with the environment, politics, or society, all of which are topics that can be of interest to gifted learners (Witt, 2009). Blogging about these topics gives gifted learners the chance to develop voice and take a stand on an issue.
Classroom Blogs- This type of blog showcases what students have accomplished in the classroom. Pictures, videos, and other technology projects can be embedded and uploaded on the blog for parents, families, the community, and even the world to see! To engage students in this process, they can be in charge of writing and publishing the content of the class blog.
Issues to Consider
Parental/Guardian Consent- Before setting up any kind of blog, it is recommended to obtain parental/guardian consent for uploading student posts, work, pictures, or other media. Many school districts issue and require this consent through publicity and technology use forms, but it is wise to double check with your school district or create another permission form specifically for your class.
Internet Safety-Before your students start to blog, it is important to review some guidelines to protect their identities. Personal information such as full names, age, home or school addresses, phone numbers, and email should not be shared on blogs. Many class blogs I have come across only allow students to use their first names or create a pseudonym.
Netiquette- Before students begin to blog, rules of netiquette (internet etiquette) along with certain academic standards and guidelines should be discussed and set. This is especially important if you plan on creating an academic or reflective blog. Other issues such as cyberbullying and appropriate content should also be discussed.
Interactive Features- Widgets like cluster and revolver maps show where readers are from while other gadgets like Shelfari (virtual bookshelf) allow for teachers to add books that students are reading or have studied. Links to other class blogs and favorite learning websites can also be added. By adding these widgets and gadgets, the classroom blog can act as an interactive classroom site for students, parents, and the audience.
Group vs. Individual Blogs- If you opt for an academic/reflective type blog, another issue to consider is whether to create a group blog or have students create their own individual blogs. I have come across examples of both and it is ultimately up to the teacher to decide which type will best meet the needs of her students and be more manageable. It is recommended to use blogging platforms where the teacher manages and approves all student posts before they are published and have settings to monitor comments as well.
Here is a list of resources that can help you get started and offer ideas for classroom or student blogs:
Blogging with Elementary Students-Look under the “Downloads” section for units and tips on how to start and manage student blogs as well as prepare students for blogging and commenting.
Blogging LiveBinder-Compiles several resources on how to get started, tips, along with student samples and projects.
Blog4 Edu-This wiki offers a great collection of resources like video tutorials for getting started, sample permission forms, and internet safety tips.
Cybraryman's Blog Site--Another excellent collection of resources for student, class, and teacher blogs.
Teacher's First Blog Basics--This site introduces blogs and offers ideas for the classroom.
Creating Effective Blogs-This is an excellent blog that provides a collection of video tutorials and resources on how to create a blog.
Blog Soup Ideas-Great prompts for Gifted learners!
58 Interesting Ideas for Class Blogs
Student Blogging Challenge
Fitzgibbon, K. (2010). Teaching with wikis, blogs, podcasts & more. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Witt, D. (2009). Strategies for the tech-savvy classroom. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.