Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blogging with students? Yes please! (Even the little ones!)

Just want to point out... You don't want to miss this one. If you don't have time to read the entire thing, scroll to the bottom and bookmark or pin the links. You'll be glad you did later!

 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:
Be sure to check out the links above. I couldn't wait to share these great links with you! If you passed over it, please go back and read the privacy guidelines I listed. As cool as all of this is, I think we need to be protecting our kiddos first. 

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!



Elizabeth said...

Sounds as if you had the same concerns that I have. All of her responses for you also helped me. I think I will look into it more. Thanks for the information. (Yes, I did pin this so that I'd remember.)


Fun in Room 4B

Unknown said...

Great post! I've been wanting to start this myself but was worried about the same things. I think I'll give it a go this year.
Dianne @ hopelessly Devoted to Teaching

Unknown said...

I am also interested in doing this next year. There are lots of logistics to work out, but I think it will become routine one it is set up. I look forward to following your journey!

Teaching with Moxie

Rachael Hope said...

I have wanted to blog with my students since early last year. I even went so far as to set up a page. But, I never got up the courage to do it. I wasn't able to work out the privacy issues or the management issues. I look forward to reading about your journey, and maybe it will help me.

Miss Trayers said...

Thank you so much for sharing these ideas! I did a form of digital portfolios last year, but wasn't happy with it. This definitely seems like a better way to do it.

Your concern about parents comparing work-they do the same thing when you hang it on the wall; and it actually helped motivate some of my parents last year to work more with their kids at home. Apparently me telling them the student wasn't putting effort into work wasn't nearly as effective as them seeing the work the other kids were doing who were doing their best. Thanks again!


Debra said...

Too funny. I JUST did a Pinterest search on portfolios, and Kathy Cassidy's site/articles came up more than once. I was impressed with my first (quick) read and pinned the pages to my new Portfolio board. :)

Kate @ EduKate and Inspire said...

Perfect timing for this post, as I have been looking into blogging with my second graders this year! Thanks for posting all of the links... I'm about to check them out!

EduKate and Inspire

Unknown said...

Thought I'd share.....I really liked Class Blogmeister, but the registration required that our school sign up and a password be given out at a staff meeting. Instead, I've created my classroom bog at Edublog. They have improved their classroom features and I think it will be a great substitute. Thanks, again, for the inspiration!

Teaching with Moxie

Traci Clausen said...

Glad I stumbled upon your blog and this post. I've been playing with the idea of digital portfolios. I like your answers to the questions/concerns many of us have.
❤Dragonflies in First ❤

Barb said...

I LOVE classblogmeister and have been using it with my kiddos for 6 years! I started with first graders and, now that I'm back teaching kindergarten, my kinder kiddos do it--with ease, I might add! Mrs. Cassidy's blog has always been my go-to for ideas and inspiration. She's amazing (and she's linked on my blog).

I use my part of the blog all school year long (parents, relatives and friends LOVE being able to "peek" into our classroom via the slide shows)but I don't start the kiddos blogging until sometime in January. I love how natural it is to differentiate!

Getting a district code is no big deal. Have your IT person contact David Warlick. He's a GREAT guy!

Please check out my blog:

I'd be more than happy to help anyone who wants to get going on this.

:) Barb

Unknown said...

I gave your blog an award! Come by and pick it up!!


Katie Z said...

Just this summer I started using I have had great success so far! I have a son who just finished kindergarten who is using it. I also teach K and invited some of my students from last year to do some summer blogging. They are able to log in at home (drop down menu for name and then you create a password--site is specific to our class.) Check out
I will soon put a link to this site on my main parent blog so families can easily access it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!-Katie

The Math Spot said...

Great post. I have blogged with my students in the past but it has always been a closed partition of the classroom site that has been password protected so that only members of our class are able to see it.

I did a post today about using computers in the classroom- it's my first in a new series I'm calling Tech Day Tuesday. I'd love if you would stop by and check it out!

Polka Dots and Teaching Tots

thebusybusyhive said...

I'm looking into this idea of blogging with my first grade too!
I gave you an award, buzz by to pick it up=)
The Busy Busy Hive

newmanm said...

These are great things to remember when considering blogging with kids! Thanks so much for sharing. This is also a great way to incorporate formative assessment!

I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. Be sure to head over to my page to check it out!


Carol said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information! I am very interested in blogging with my first graders this year. I look forward to following your progress and hope we can all share what we are learning.
Still Teaching After All These Years

mrsjanellebush said...

Hello! I am your newest follower. Please come and visit my blog. I would love for you to follow mine and share ideas.
Mrs. Janelle

Cynthia said...

Okay, I am serious about doing this with my class and would like to know where you are at with planning for this. I definitely think I will need some guidance!

2nd Grade Pad