By Laureen Reynolds, SDE Educational Consultant
In my last post, I challenged you to start thinking outside of the ELA box just a bit and to integrate some tech through blogging. Remember, blogging is writing! If you are reading this, that idea didn’t totally scare you and might have even interested you enough to dig a little deeper. I also promised that I would give you some ideas to get you going, so here goes.
How you go about using your blogs will definitely take some thought and will likely morph over time – mine did. It has to be authentic to the purpose you are trying to achieve and with students, the reasons for blogging will change frequently, so the look and feel of their posts (and maybe even their pages) can/should too. This digital age of ours lets that happen pretty easily, so go with it. Below are just a few ideas to help get you started. You and you students will get into the blogging groove soon enough and you’ll be brainstorming ideas of your own.
When your students first start blogging, just let them write without having to worry about too much of an assignment. We want them to love it first and then, as they become more skilled, you can require specific things to be included and conventions to be used. Remember too that we want our students to not only post, but comment on others’ posts from time to time as well.
• Post a picture of your classroom and invite students to comment on what they like and offer suggestions for changes they’d like to see.
• Share a photo of a classroom display. Have students comment on the creations of others, the process of making the pieces, or ask any “I Wonder” questions related to the topic in the photo.
• Ask students for input on classroom rules, class meeting topics, solutions to issues within the room.
• Post up-close images of larger things and ask students to guess what it might be and why they think so.
• Add a link to an online, topic-related video from YouTube or another video site and ask students to comment on it.
• Ask students to post pictures from a safe image site like Pics4Learing that correlate with a central theme you are studying. Be sure to ask them to tell why they chose to import the picture they did.
• Create a student supported list of book recommendations. Ask student to choose a favorite title and post two or three reasons why others should look at it/read it. Depending on the age of your students, this can also be done with apps, websites, video clips…
• After sharing a book, post an interpretive question about it on the blog and ask students to respond. Make sure it is an opinion question and not one with a single correct answer.
• Post a math problem and ask students to describe how they would solve it. They don’t even need to provide the answer.
• Ask students to reflect on what they liked about a recently completed unit of study and what they would have liked to see or what would have made it more interesting for them.
• Have students select a classroom or school rule or procedure and tell why it is important to have in place or do.
• Allow students to share poems or short stories they have written and ask others to comment on them using a Point, Question, Connect format. (Point: I remember you said…, Question: Where did you keep the trophy when you first got it?, Connect: I did something like that too when I went to another school.)
• After viewing a video, listening to a guest speaker, or reading a book on a common topic, ask students to list what they think the three most important things revealed by that (video, person, or text) were.
• Post an introduction to a topic that you’ll be studying in a week or two and ask students to post ideas about what they might like to know about that topic.
• At the end of a unit of study ask students to blog about things they still have questions on. Others can answer a question from a classmate as well as post their own query.
• Ask parents to contribute to your blog in the form of a photo they took, a poem they’ve written, an image of a craft or recipe they’ve made, or a story they think is appropriate and have students comment on those items or ask questions.
• Have students blog about changes in a plant you’re growing or the activities of a class pet.
• Create a “Bloglet” out of a white athletic sock and some buttons and yarn for facial features (you can make it out of anything you want of course!). Each week, let someone take the Bloglet home (you can name it if you want) and then blog about what he or she is doing while visiting their home.
• Post a picture or pictures of famous pieces of art and ask students to answer specific questions about them like: How do you think the artist was feeling when they created this? Why? What do you like about this piece of art? What do you dislike?
So, is that enough to get your brains juicing? I hope so! Next time you hear from me we will continue in this writing journey we’ve begun. It’s a topic I am talking a lot about at schools all over the country so join the conversation and get inspired. See you soon!