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Blogging in the Classroom
Once your students have become comfortable on the computer you can start doing some really interesting lessons. From about 4th grade on you the option to a wide variety of research projects. Once students have learned web basics you can help them learn to create a simple website.
I find that a blog is perfect for this introductory lesson, as it is simple to setup and has a social aspect that the kids really enjoy. If your not familiar with what a blog is then don t worry, you don t need to be an expert to blog with your class. Just think of a blog as a simple website. Most blogs can be auto-installed, so that part of the process is easy. They also come with pre-installed templates, so a simple design is easy to use.
Blogging With Your Middle School Classroom
If you want to share something interesting with your middle school students, which also helps them to learn new skills and express themselves, then you ll benefit from blogging with your middle school classroom. Middle school students are at very communicative ages, so most students in middle school really love sharing their thoughts and opinions.
When you give your students the option of blogging, you ll allow them to share the ways that they think and feel with a larger audience. Today, we d like to help you get the ball rolling, by outlining the perfect template for success.
The first step is letting your middle school class know what a blog actually is. Explain that a blog is a web page or website which is updated a lot and which is run by one person or a small group (i.e. you and your students). Also, let your students know that blogs typically present Web content that is written in a casual and conversational way.
The next step is creating a focus for your blog. One of the easiest strategies is to make your blog an online book club, where students post reviews of books that they ve been assigned during class. Blogging should always have a strong educational component and this type of format will help you to ensure that students are learning via the typical curriculum as they explore the pleasures and possibilities of blogging.
Whatever the focus of the class blog is, it should be understood by all students. Naturally, it s nice to find a focus that middle school students are able to get excited about.
During the third step, you should get the blogging started. However, everything should happen offline. This is the preparatory phase. Now, let s talk about how to move forward, towards the step when students are able to hit the publish button inside of the blog interface and then see their work online.
Assign Blog Post Topics to Students
Next, you ll need to create a lesson plan for the first round of blog posts from your students. This means assigning a topic for each student. Another strategy is having a class discussion about possible topics. It s probably simpler to do it yourself. However, the class may really appreciate the opportunity to select blog post topics of their own. How you handle this step is up to you. As long as everyone gets a blog post topic which is educational, while also being fun for the student to write, it s all good.
After topics are assigned, it s time to hand out a list of blog post instructions. For example, you may want to assign a word count. Five hundred words is a good length for blog posts. Ask the students to come up with headlines and also a couple of sub-headings per post. The instructions can be pretty simple. They will help students to structure their writings in a way that is blog-friendly.
Remind students to check over their work for grammatical errors and spelling errors. Also, let them know how they should create the drafts. Should they use Microsoft Word or create their drafts in another way? It s up to you. Word documents are easy to post into blog interfaces, so Word is a good option and most students will have access to it. It might be good to ask the kids to send their drafts to your school email address as attachments when they are done. Again, you have total leeway in terms of how to collect the drafts, whether they are hand-written or digital documents.
To wrap up the instructions, set a deadline for the first drafts of their blog posts.
Now, it s your turn to do some work. You ll need to go over the blog posts and request edits if they are needed. Try to let the individual voices of your students come through while you re editing. These individual voices are really what blogging is all about!
Add Posts to the Interface
After the posts are edited, they may be uploaded to the blog interface. This offers another great opportunity for students to learn. Walk them through the process by explaining how the blog interface works. They are all different. For example, if your students will be creating blog posts in WordPress, teach them how to paste their content into WordPress by using the kitchen sink feature.
Also, show them where to add the headlines and allow them to choose categories for their blog posts (or select categories for them). If you re really ambitious, explain how adding the right keywords and other features (images, Meta tags, Image tags) may help them to get more traffic for each blog post. These elements are part of search engine optimization (SEO). They help search engines to find and classify new content at websites.
Stand by as your students add their posts to the interface. Show them how to save their work and preview it before it s published. Scan the preview posts to ensure that all content is age-appropriate and looks good. Then, let your students hit the publish button. After they do, they ll be able to see their blog posts at the blog. This should be fun for them!
One tip is to moderate comments for the blog. Don t let comments on your student s blog posts get published automatically. A negative comment could come in which really hurts a student s feelings. It s smarter to review comments carefully before you decide whether or not to publish them.
Also, you ll need to protect the privacy of your middle school students. So, consider whether you want them to post under their own names or not. In terms of privacy, it might be best to post things anonymously. Teachers make different decisions about privacy levels. A blog may represent the class and it may have the names of student contributors. Another option is listing each writer as a contributor?.
Now that you know how to start blogging with your middle school classroom, why not begin doing so today, or in the near future?