Blogging is a great way to promote reflective writing in class. The best way to get started is to jump in and try it out, and this list should provide some pointers to get you started.
If you’re looking for more best practices and ideas, check out these 30 top-rated student blogs.
- Choose a platform – There are many places you can launch class blogs, each has pros and cons. First of all, you should decide whether you want class blogs to be public, so you can share and interact with other classes, or private so students don’t inadvertently share something they shouldn’t. This depends partly on how old your students are, and partly on how comfortable you are with student blogging. We recommend Tumblr for beginners and WordPress for more advanced users.
- Set guidelines for students – What topics are they allowed to write about? Do you need to read and approve posts before they are published? How informal can posts be – do they need to check grammar/spelling; can they use chat abbreviations? Check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guide for student bloggers here.
- Teach your kids – Like any other skill, introduce it to students before asking them to do it. Explain what blogging is and how it works, show them other student blogs, and have them get their feet wet by contributing quality comments to other blogs.
- Define a purpose for each blog – This is not for the sake of limiting what students can write about, but rather to help them focus – it can often be hard to get started without any guidelines.
- Emphasize content over form – Blogging is an informal form of writing. While the blog has to be readable and make sense, it’s more important for students to feel comfortable expressing themselves.
- Don’t forget multimedia – Blogs can include images and video so teach students how to embed resources from other sites such as Youtube and Flickr.
- Put safety first – Make sure students know not to share personal info, or verbally attack another student in a post. Teach the difference between criticism and commentary. Encourage students to take responsibility for the words they write, and how those words affect other people when they’re public.
- Look for inspiration – Have students read other student blogs for inspiration, but make sure they know not to copy – explain that copyright applies even to blogs, and that they should respect the ownership they have of their own work.
Hopefully this list will get you started with your own students, and we’d love to see your own list for blogging with students. What would you add?