Also, if you don't make it all the way to the bottom, this is the host I am seriously looking into.
If you are reading this, chances are that you don't need to be convinced of the benefits of blogging. Half of you probably have your own blog, and the other half at least get to enjoy the ideas people share. Although I completely understand the benefits of blogging for teachers... I did need a little convincing about blogging for students.
I was lucky enough to attend Southwest BLC last week. It was three days filled with an overload of information. I expected the presenters to be telling us how to integrate technology in teaching, but really it was about good teaching. Yes, they explained how technology could support that, but I was very happy to hear how much they stressed that technology is not everything. It can be helpful and engaging, but it has to be integrated in a way that it adds to the curriculum. I think that too often, technology can be used in a way that it really takes away. It needs to be seamless!
|There I am in the middle... just 8 days after my gallbladder surgery!|
One of my favorite presenters was named Kathy Cassidy. She has first graders that she blogs with. I was so impressed! The whole time I was thinking how I could have done it with my kindergartners last year. Here is Mrs. Cassidy's class blog. You can click there to see exactly what her students are doing and posting.
It surprised me that she used blogging more like a digital portfolio. Really, it was great for me to see that I can combine blogging and a digital portfolio next year. With a digital classroom next year, I am expected to have my students create digital portfolios. I'm so glad I attended her session!
Here are some of the cool things I noticed on Mrs. Cassidy's blog:
- The main page is the teacher blog. This is where I imagine keeping parents updated with pictures, videos, etc.
- On the right side, there is a list of names that link to each of her students blogs. Notice that she lists first names only!
- Her blog counts how many "reads" they have. How motivating for her students to see how many people are actually looking at the blog. Talk about a global community!
- People comment from all around the world.
- She has a map widget on the right side that can show the students exactly where their readers are from.
Although there were so many cool things about her blog, I was concerned about the students' privacy. You see, I had a blog this year for my parents to be updated on what was going on in the classroom, but I made sure it was private and only they could see it.
I thought, "How is it okay to show the whole world videos of the kids?" I also wondered, "Are the parents really okay with their students' portfolios being available for the whole world to see? Aren't they going to compare their child to others?"
Despite my concerns, she managed to convince me that it's still a good a idea. First of all, her students are still protected. At the beginning of the year, she tells the parents her guidelines for protecting their privacy and shows an example of the blog from the year before. (I plan to show hers as an example of what I'd like to do.)
Here are her privacy guidelines:
- No student last names anywhere. (If a parents comments and leaves a last name, she will not approve the comment, and she will delete it. She is serious about no last names.)
- The only place she has pictures of the students' faces is on the main teacher page.
- She never has student names associated to these pictures or videos on the main page.
- On her student pages, she never shows student faces. You may notice in some of the videos that you hear their voices or see their hands, but no one will be able to match a face to a name.
- Parents already compare. She has never had anyone complain, but she knows that parents already compare their students to others. I'm sure you've seen it just like I have at open house. They already know if their child is at grade level, below, or above.
- She approves all comments and posts before they are live on the blog.
After hearing her guidelines, I realized that I was convinced and now I've got to figure out what blog host I'd like to use. If you are interested in starting blogging with your students you'll want to check out these links:
- Mrs. Cassidy's Class Blog (using classblogmeister)
- A list of Blog/Portfolio Hosts
- A google doc comparing almost any of the hosts you could think of
I'll keep you updated and let you know what host I choose. I am hoping that some of you wouldn't mind getting involved in commenting on my student's blog posts to keep them motivated in blogging for a real audience. Can't wait to start!