Blogs & Wikis in the Classroom

For information specifically about blog & wiki use in Klein ISD, go to this page.

Very Basic How-to and Why of Blogging with Students & Managing Your Blog Reading

There is a one-hour discussion of how to set up edublogs (which we cannot use in Klein) and how to keep track of them and blog posts by your personal learning network, etc. There will be more pedagogical discussions about blogging with students in upcoming weekson the #ETMOOC site too. The info about using Google Reader to manage your blog reading is very helpful!

Great Resource: Blogging with Students

A list of blogging resources curated by Jamie can also be found on this ScoopIt page:

A Note: Why Blogging?

Did You Know? Media Literacy is a focus of the ELA TEKS objectives for grades K-12 in Texas! See Texas-specific information on this page.

Here are some examples of interesting ways that blogs & wikis have been used in elementary classrooms
Macbook by Swansea Photographer, Flickr CC
—some even as young as kindergarten. I think there are some really good ideas represented here, and many of them are very simple. Blogs and wikis can support our CIDC focus of providing students with engaging opportunities to hone their writing skills, as well as meeting TATEKS objectives (solve problems and communicate information in various formats and to a variety of audiences).
Expectations should be made clear to the students up front, and training must take place with students so that they understand what kind of writing a blog/wiki post is expected to employ. Audience is important!

In this article on blogging with students, Lisa Zawilinski not only outlines the basics (What is a blog? What are some ideas for use in the classroom that utilize blogs?), but also provides a theoretical rationale for using the tool. Interesting and informative read:

HOT Blogging -

Blog/Wiki Examples

Blogging examples & Ideas from Canada!

Wow! George Couros, a principal in Alberta, Canada, posted this document that his staff used in a blogging professional development session to help generate ideas for teachers to use to get them started blogging. There are great suggestions for blogs by teachers that might be interesting to read as well. What a resource! Well worth a look. I think you will find something that sparks your imagination as you begin to blog:

To go directly to this Google Document, go to:

George Couros' blog post where I learned about this professional development session that his faculty participated in is here:

Here’s a wiki with many examples of student- blogs/wikis :

The first section has lots of good ideas:
  • Aviva Dunsiger at Ancaster is a power-user of tech in her 1st grade classroom. Here and here are examples of blogging with her first-graders. . There are some great ideas on that site about using blogs/wikis, but also about using tons of other tech tools to empower learners.
  • The example from Oaktree shows how a very simple format might be used. The teacher posts a task, such as "Which twisted fairy tale do you like the best? What fairy tale are you using to write your own twisted fairy tale?" Students answer the question by using the comment feature of the blog.
  • I love the idea of using a blog to write collaborative stories in a "choose your own adventure" format! This could be easily done in a wiki format as well.,


Worth a Listen!

Additionally, Dunsiger hosted a webinar on June 12, 2010 that was so full of good ideas that it was dizzying. It was full of examples of how she uses tech in the classroom to engage students, connect with parents and keep them involved as a part of student learning. The recording is on this page about halfway down. If that link is a problem, try this one. This is an amazing example of a teacher that truly understands how to infuse technology into the school day.

Your Blogging Project Doesn't HAVE to be Complicated!

Here is an example of how simple a blog post might be--they don't have to be wildly complicated projects! Each week on her class blog, Kathy Cassidy asks a very simple, high-interest question that students respond to during the week. Student expectations for different grades will differ. Students might be required to answer in complete sentences, use academic vocabulary, use descriptive language, etc.
Here's an example:


*Other Blog/Wiki Examples

Maria Knee is a kindergarten teacher that uses blogging beautifully with her students (along with tons of other tech tools). Students write blog posts, upload pictures and videos and comment on other students' posts. To see student blog posts, click on some of the KinderKids names on the right hand side of the main blog page. When kindergarten spelling is difficult for readers to decipher, Mrs. Knee provides a "translation." :) She uses blogging very effectively both to engage students in learning, and to reach out to parents, bringing them into the kindergarten experience.

Another example of a kindergarten blog is maintained by Cheryl Dillard and Maria Mallon--Mallard's Kindergarten Happenings blog! These kindergarten teachers do most of the posting, but I include it because it seems to be a great means of positive interaction with the community.

Some Blogging Best Practice Tips

License to Blog:
Students should be exposed to reading blogs, and making comments as a group at first. Guided practice is needed to help students in crafting quality comments that add to the discussion rather than simply "me too" comments. During this phase, topics of cyberbullying and netiquette should be addressed. The next step is commenting individually. Students should be required to comment several times, with a focus on creating quality discussions in the comment thread. When a student masters the language/content of quality commenting, they can then be granted a
License to Blog
Once licensed, students might be required to post twice/wk or twice/2 wks: one assigned post and one free post. In addition, 3-5 quality comments to other classmates blogs should be required. Remember that the objective is for students to learn to further and deepen discussion/consideration of a topic. This is a modern media literacy skill that must be practiced! It is not easy!

Vary the blogging assignments:
Audience is important! Make sure that students get an opportunity to practice blogging using various writing styles and for different purposes and audiences. Examples:
  • formal posts
  • reaction posts--react to another student's or the teachers post, or to an article or a passage in a book. Purpose: text to text, text to self connections
  • high quality comments on other students/teachers' blog posts. Purpose: extend and deepen the discussion!
  • free posts--may be less formal, and on a topic of choice. Purpose: engage the students in writing for pleasure!

From technotes, a members email from TCEA, October 19, 2010: are some resources to enable you to better use blogging in the classroom:

  • Responsible Blogging - Taken from a 10th grade class, these guidelines for safe and responsible blogging are not just teacher-generated, but also come from the students themselves.
  • Blogger's Contract - This contract between the teacher and student is a great way to remind the student of the safety and responsibility required when blogging. Use this contract as a model for one you can create for your class.
  • Consent for Your Child to Participate in Online Collaboration - This teacher has drawn up a consent form for parents explaining how technology will be used in the classroom and asking for parental consent. Click on the link at the beginning of this letter for the actual consent form.
  • Blogging Rules - This list of rules was compiled by a teacher for his classroom. You may find this helpful for setting the rules in your class before you begin blogging.
  • Discovery Blogging Rules - Another set of rules for classroom blogging, this one is a bit more extensive and also includes clearly defined consequences to breaking the rules. This list can serve as a model for the rules in your classroom.

Teacher Resources

The Innovative Educator: Just Say Yes to Publishing! Exposing the Man Behind the Curtain if He's Still Saying No
Much attention has been lavished on the alarming dangers of young people publishing and connecting with others via the Internet, however, as Lisa Nielsen discusses in her recent blog post, researchers have found little evidence to support this focus. From the blog post:

Despite the sensationalism of shows like Dateline’s, “To Catch a Predator,” in his post, Just The Facts, Dean Shareski shares that no one has been able to link the posting of an image on the internet leading to danger associated with predators. He shares information from theCongressional Internet Caucus to shed some light on the real dangers of online activity which indicate that IT IS NOT GIVING OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION THAT PUTS KIDS AT RISK. It’s not having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving as what we call an Internet Daredevil.Social Media Researcher at MicrosoftBerkman Center for Internet and Society, Danah Boyd asks this...
Why are we so obsessed with the registered sex offender side of the puzzle when the troubled kids are right in front of us? Why are we so obsessed with the internet side of the puzzle when so many more kids are abused in their own homes? I feel like this whole conversation has turned into a distraction. Money and time is being spent focusing on the things that people fear rather than the very real and known risks that kids face. This breaks my heart.
Nielsen's post goes on to discuss cyberbullying and other internet concerns for students. This post is well worth reading, and is filled with research that, in my opinion, helps to clarify school's role in helping students to make safer choices for themselves in an authentic way.

Blogging Links from ISTE's EduBloggerCon July 26, 2010

From Jeff Utect's Presentation/Discussion

The following presentation was prepared, perhaps, with an older audience application in mind, but the focus on formative assessment is valid for any age student.

Additional Reading and Multimedia Resources

Blogging with Students
Presentation at ISTE conference, June 2010 by Richard Byrne and Sue Waters
This is a presentation recorded in Elluminate, so there is a small download required before you can watch it. It is worth it though!
See Sue Waters' follow-up blog post about the topic as well.
Blogging is Elementary
by Kim Cofino
Very thorough discussion of blogging in the elementary setting, including digital citizenship, guidelines, etc.
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
by Will Richardson (book: 2006)
Great foundation book, as teachers begin to think about using collaborative technologies in the classroom. Jamie owns this book--come borrow it! :)
It's Elementary! Blogging with Young Learners!technology
I liked some of the examples given in this blog post--very simple ideas, just tweaked a bit to make them unique. Video of 1st gr girl telling how she uses Blackboard. Interesting.
It's Elementary #37: Student Blogging with Jan Smith

Justifying Blogging by David Warlick
In a blog post from 2008, David Warlick puts the question to his readers: why blogging? Read the comments below!
Let's Do It: Planning for Technology in the Primary Classroom
This wiki was created as a resource for a PD session by Amanda Marrinana, Kathy Cassidy and Maria Knee.
Primary Pixels
This is a collaborative wiki by Kathy Cassidy and Maria Knee--experienced primary grades teachers who share their experience so freely! Thanks ladies!
Another wiki exploring and explaining the use of collaborative technologies in the early grades--by Maria Knee, Kathy Cassidy and Amanda Marrinan
Student and Teacher Blogs that Succeed
In this article, tech integration specialist Dean Shareski shares tips and observations about helping students and teachers create and maintain a successful classroom blog.
Student Blogging Guidelines
by Kim Cofino
Good guidelines for student bloggers, and the questions that students should ask
themselves provide a tool to students to help them make good decisions about what they post.
WebQuest: Blogging: It's Elementary
by Anne Davis
This webquest familiarizes students with the process of bloging, and helps students to set norms about their blogging behavior. I think it might need some streamlining b/c class time might be an issue with this particular activity. Setting expectations up front though is a critical part of creating a healthy educational blogging culture.